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Perineal massage is a very helpful massage that you can practice during pregnancy. It will increase your chances of having an easier labor and delivery and reduce the possibility of tearing, bruising, or having an episiotomy.
This means that your postpartum recovery will also be much easier and quicker!
Perineal massage is also one of the key elements for the success of hypnobirthing. And if you’ve never heard of hypnobirthing, I really recommend you find out more about it. It allowed me to have the most amazing, calm, empowering and pain free birth.
How Perineal Massage Works
It works by improving the health, blood flow, elasticity and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. When your perineal rim is soft and relaxed, the folds of the perineum open easily, and the baby can slip past the rim and out of the vagina.
It needs to be practiced towards the end of pregnancy, 6 to 8 weeks prior to the due date. Every day for at least 5 minutes. However, it can even be practiced during labor itself. In a recent study, researchers discovered that women who received massage during the second stage of labor (during and between pushing) had a lower risk of third and fourth degree tears.
The Benefits of Perineal Massage
Like I mentioned before, perineal massage increases your chances of having an easier labor and delivery and reduce the possibility of tearing, bruising, or having an episiotomy.
Looking more in details at the benefits:
- It prepares the tissues: massage increases blood flow and may help the tissues and skin stretch with more ease but with less pain during childbirth.
- It lowers the risk of tearing. Around 1 in 15 women who regularly do perineal massage don’t need an episiotomy or otherwise experience a tear that requires stitches.
- It lowers need for stitches. Even if massage doesn’t prevent tearing, one study says it may reduce the need for stitches by as much as 10 percent. This basically means that massaging the perineum may make tearing less severe.
- Helps those with scar tissue. Women who have had a previous injury or otherwise have a rigid perineum (dancers, horse riders) may find that massage is especially useful.
- Prepares you for birth. Paying attention to the area that stretches the most during delivery allows you to focus on relaxing and learning the sensations you may encounter. This may help you get in the zone both physically and mentally.
Oils to use for perineal massage
You may use a variety of oils for perineal massage. The main goal with using an oil is lubrication to eliminate friction. Choosing a specific type is up to your personal preference, access, and budget.
You could try:
- natural oils, like organic sunflower, grapeseed, coconut, almond, or olive
- personal lubricants, like K-Y Jelly, are also a good choice because they’re water soluble
- your body’s own vaginal lubricant, if this makes you more comfortable
I personally used olive oil from my kitchen 🙂 Whatever you choose, stay away from using synthetic oils or lubricants, like baby oil, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly. Also avoid perfumed oils.
Perineal massage during pregnancy: the technique
- Start by washing your hands! And if you have long nails, I suggest you clip them to avoid scratching yourself.
- Sit with your back against some pillows and get comfortable.
- Apply the oil to your clean hands.
- Insert the finger(s) into the vagina, approximately two to three inches, pressing downward on the area between the vagina and the rectum. Rub the oil into the inner edge of the perineum and the lower vaginal wall.
- Maintaining a steady pressure, slide the fingers upward along the sides of the vagina in a U type motion. This pressure will stretch the vaginal tissue, the muscles surrounding the vaginal, and the outer rim of the perineum.
- At the beginning you will feel the muscles being quite tight. However, with time and practice, the tissue will feel softer and more relaxed.
Tip #1: Relax
Try to relax as much as possible during the massage. This means relaxing both your body and your mind. You may become more comfortable with the sensations as your tissues stretch over time.
Regardless, keep your eye on the time. Your total massage time shouldn’t exceed 5 minutes a session.
Tips #2: Ask your partner for help
It may be easier having your partner or someone else do the massage for you, as your big belly might make it quite uncomfortable for you to practice 🙂
If your partner is doing the massage, they would use the first two fingers. If you do it yourself, it may be easier to use the thumb.
Perineal Massage Video
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