Perineal Massage During Pregnancy

As you near the end of your pregnancy, you may be looking for ways that you can start to prepare your body for labour and birth. One way that you can prepare your body for birth is through perineal massage. This blog will discuss perineal massage during pregnancy, its potential advantages and how to perform it safely.

Understanding the Perineum

Let's first understand what the perineum is. The perineum is the area between the vaginal opening and the anus. During birth, this area can experience stretching and sometimes tearing, which can lead to discomfort and the need for stitches after birth. Perineal massage is a technique aimed at gently stretching and massaging the perineal tissues to prepare for birth and reduce perineal tearing.

Benefits of Perineal Massage

Perineal massage from 34 weeks onwards has been shown to reduce the risk of episiotomies and perineal tears, especially third- and fourth-degree tears in first time mothers. This is because perineal massage can help to improve the flexibility and elasticity of the perineal tissues. Furthermore, perineal massage during pregnancy can help improve blood flow to the area, leading to better wound healing and less perineal pain after birth. There is also research to support perineal massage during pregnancy reducing the second stage of labour.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to perform perineal massage safely:

  1. Pick a time of day where you feel the most relaxed and find somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down. It is recommended to start perineal massage around 34 weeks gestation.
  2. Clean your hands well before you start and make sure that you have your nails trimmed.
  3. Apply a natural, water-based lubricant or Bliss Birth’s Perineal Massage oil onto your perineum (the more the better).
  4. Gently insert your thumbs into your vagina, apply gentle pressure downward and outward towards the sides of the perineum. You should feel a stretching sensation as you gently massage the muscles.
  5. As you perform the massage, try to focus on relaxing and breathing deeply. This will help you get the most out of your perineal massage.
  6. Repeat the massage for approximately 10 minutes a day for at least 2-3 times a week. However, if you prefer you can perform the massage every day.

If you experience any discomfort while performing perineal massage, stop immediately and if you have any concerns call your healthcare provider.

Incorporating perineal massage into your birth preparation

Perineal massage can be a valuable addition to your overall birth preparation however, it does not guarantee against tearing or other complications. It is important to use perineal massage along with other techniques to reduce tearing.

Consider attending Antenatal Classes to learn more about ways to cope during your labour and birth, ways to reduce perineal tearing and how to prepare for labour and birth. Another great way to reduce perineal tears is through being upright and active during your labour and birth, this can be done with the use of hiring a TENS Machine from Bliss Birth. Combining perineal massage with these other practices can contribute to a smoother pregnancy and birth experience.

Perineal massage is a great technique to help you physically and mentally prepare for your labour and birth. By understanding the benefits, how to perform it safely and how to incorporate perineal massage into your overall birth preparation can give you confidence going into your birthing experience. Remember, every pregnancy is unique, so it's always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider before starting any new practices.

Written by Lauren Brenton
Endorsed Midwife
Founder of One Mama Midwife Pty Ltd
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