Let’s establish where the perineum is and then let’s talk about why anyone would ever what to do massage there!
Your perineum is the area of skin and muscle between the vagina and the anus. When you give birth for the first time vaginally, this area will stretch to a point that it never has before. There is a school of thought that, by massaging and stretching this area in late pregnancy, it can help you prepare for giving birth to your baby and will minimise the likelihood of tearing…
…is it sounding a bit more appealing now?
Massaging your perineum towards the end of your pregnancy can also reduce your chances of needing an episiotomy. It may also reduce tearing. Even if you have had a baby before, perineal massage can help to reduce discomfort after the birth.
Perineal massage aims to relax, stretch and soften the perineal area. It will help the opening of your vagina to stretch more easily as your baby is born.
When should I start doing perineal massage?
Women would usually start do this in the final six weeks of pregnancy. Not only will it minimise the chance of tears to the perineum during childbirth. When done correctly in pregnancy, it helps prepare for the sensations experienced during childbirth.
How do you do perineal massage?
Perineal massage should focus on the inside of your vagina, though you may still feel the skin on the outside stretching.
Here’s how to do a perineal massage:
Discontinue if you feel pain.
Start perineal massage from 34 weeks pregnant and aim to do it at least once / twice a week.
The bigger your baby gets, the more cumbersome it can be to do perineal massage to yourself.
*If your partner is willing, they can do it for you. The process is the same, although ask them to swap the positioning around – so it is their index fingers inside the vagina and their thumbs on the outside.
Find a routine that works for you and stick to it. Perineal massage shouldn't hurt, though it may feel a bit uncomfortable, particularly at first. After you've been doing it for a few weeks, you may notice the skin and muscles around your vaginal opening becoming looser. This is a great sign that perineal massage is working.