What is perineal massage?
Perineal massage, done during the last month of pregnancy, helps to prepare your perineal tissues for the stretching needed for birth. Research indicates that perineal massage can help to reduce tears, episiotomies and forcep births. The perineum is the skin and muscles between your vagina and anus. After your baby’s head begins to crown, the perineum naturally releases and expands to allow the head to be born.
Perineal massage can be done alone, or you can have your partner be your helper. This will help develop the communication and support you will use during labor.
Before starting, be sure the massager washes their hands thoroughly and clips/cleans their nails well. You should begin to notice a change in the stretchability of your perineum a week or two after you start the massage.
You will need a small amount of warm unscented massage oil, a clock or watch to time yourself and whatever pillows or positioners you need to make yourself comfortable.
If you are going to be doing the massage yourself, the best positions are usually either standing with one foot raised and resting on the bathtub, or chair. You will probably find it easiest to use your thumb to massage.
If you are using your partner to help you, then you can relax comfortably in a well propped up semi reclining position. Make you’re your well supported with pillows. It will help to place a pillow underneath each knee while you have your legs apart. Your partner can use the index and middle finger of one hand or both index fingers.
The actual technique of the massage is fairly simple.
When you are relaxed and ready, dip two fingers in the oil and slowly and gently insert them no more than 1-2 inches into the entrance of the vagina. Relax your pelvic muscles as you take a deep breath then exhale. If you aren’t sure if they are relaxing, practice a few Kegels so you can feel the difference.
Be sure to use a lot of oil to avoid any friction on the sensitive skin of your perineum. Move your finger from right to left and back again, sweeping across the lower portion of your vaginal opening. You should feel a slight tingling or burning sensation, but not pain. Try using more oil, going slower or more gently if there is discomfort or stop and try again tomorrow.
You can start any time from 6 weeks before your due date and do the massage 3-4 times a week and then daily in the last two weeks up to the birth.
2 minutes for the first week
4 – 5 minutes up until the birth
Discontinue if the waters break or leak, or if labor starts.