Being pregnant could be a joyful time as you are expecting the birth of your baby; but it could also be a stressful and even fearful time, especially if you have friends or family around you who think that telling you fearful stories of their labour and delivery is funny. These people keep increasing your fear by telling you they had an episiotomy and second degree tears, which may make you wonder if you have to go through the same pains.
Well, you might not have to, if you regularly do perineal massages. Experts have suggested that regularly performing perineal massage in the last six weeks of pregnancy could help prevent tears and having an episiotomy done.
Perineal massage is the process of using the fingers to massage the perineum (the area between the vagina and the rectum) of a pregnant woman. It is done to relax and soften the perineum in order to prepare the vagina for delivery thereby preventing tearing and reducing the need for an episiotomy.
You could do the massage yourself or you could ask your partner to help out.
How to do Perineal Massage
- Take a warm bath, this will help you feel relaxed and soften the perineal area.
- Cut your fingernails (or your partner’s fingernails) short, so the nails would not injure you.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, so as not to introduce germs into the birth canal.
- Get into a comfortable position, the best position being lying on the bed propped up with pillows to support your back with knees raised and bended. Try to be as comfortable as possible.
- You will need to lubricate your thumbs and perineal tissues. Olive oil is probably best to do this with since you can get it easily.
- Place both of your thumbs about 1 inch inside your vagina while resting your fingers on your buttocks as shown below.
- Press down towards the anus and to the sides of the vagina wall.
- Hold in this position for about a minute, you will feel a slight burning or stretching sensation.
- Gently massage the lower half of your vagina using a U-shaped motion, going back and forth, up and down. Do this for 2-3 minutes
- Repeat steps 7-9 for about 10 minutes.
Things to Note
- You do not need to do perineal massages if you are having a Caesarean section.
- If it is not your first pregnancy, you don’t need to do the massage because your perineum is probably already stretched enough. Though there’s no harm in trying.
- If you are not doing the massage yourself, your partner should use the index fingers.
- Do not start perineal massages until at least your 34th week of pregnancy.
- You should perform the massage daily in the final 6 weeks to delivery.
- Don’t do perineal massage if you have a history of preterm labour, premature rupture of membranes or a vaginal infection.