How to do perineal massage

Perineal massage is a method performed to relax and soften the perineum, the area between the vagina and the rectum. This practice is most often undertaken during the final six weeks of pregnancy, in order to alleviate tears to the perineum during childbirth and help prepare for the sensations experienced during childbirth.

Perineal massage involves stretching the muscles between your vagina and your bottom (perineum) during pregnancy, to prepare for giving birth. This will help the opening of your vagina to stretch more easily as your baby is born.

If you’ve never given birth vaginally before, massaging your perineum towards the end of your pregnancy can reduce your risk of episiotomy. It may also reduce your risk of having a tear. Even if you have had a baby before, perineal massage can help to reduce discomfort after the birth.

Start perineal massage when you are 34 weeks pregnant and aim to do it at least once a week or twice a week.

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:

  1. Choose a comfortable position. This could be sitting or lying down, or you could try standing with one foot on a chair. You could even try doing the massage in the bath or shower, where the warm water will help to soften your perineum.
  2. Make sure your hands are clean and your nails are trimmed
  3. Use a lubricant such as olive oil/sweet almond oil to your hands and the perineal area.
  4. Place a thumb or two fingers 3cm into the vagina (half your thumb).
  5. Massage the area by gently rubbing the perineal tissues between your thumb and fingers.
  6. Press downwards and to the sides, gently stretching until you feel a tingling sensation. The feeling lessens after a few moments.
  7. Once this sensation is felt, hold the stretch for around one minute, until the feeling subsides and begin gently massaging the lower part of the vagina by moving your thumb back and forth. While massaging also hook your thumb onto the sides of the vagina and gently pull these tissues forward, as your baby’s head does, when they are being born.
  8. Continue to gently rub as you stretch for around 3-4 minutes.

Discontinue if you feel pain.

When you’re heavily pregnant, it can be difficult to do perineal massage yourself. If your partner is willing, he can do it for you. The process is the same, although he may find it easier to use his index fingers, rather than his thumbs.

The important thing is to 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.

About Magical Baby Moments

Magical Baby Moments offers group hypnobirthing courses in Romford and private courses across Essex and London. Check online at www.magicalbabymoments.com/classes to find out upcoming dates.

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