Perineal Massage While Pregnant: When, Why and How
As a mum to be, you probably hear lots of stories about what happens during birth. First and foremost, take a breath and remember that this is your experience. So, prepare for it as directed by your doctor and trust your body to know what to do. A perineal massage can help you get ready for your baby’s birth.
In this guide, you’ll learn the many benefits of massaging the perineal region during pregnancy. We also walk through how massaging your vagina and perineum helps stretch and relax the tissues prior to the big day. Are you wondering when to start perineal massage? Starting in the 34th week of pregnancy, massage the perineum 5 to 10 minutes per day.
Check with your obstetrician regarding any conditions that could make perineal massage unsafe. We also suggest involving your partner to hold the mirror or conduct the massage if they would like to help. Keep reading for all the details on perineal massage, and don’t forget that Cradle & Tonic aromatherapy body oil makes an excellent lubricant for massage during pregnancy.
What is perineal massage?
Perineal massage is designed to stretch and relax the vagina and perineal region. Proponents of the technique believe that it helps to reduce vaginal tearing during childbirth. Through vaginal stretching and massage, you can loosen the surrounding muscles. Hopefully, this will make the muscles more supple and result in an easy delivery!
You can start the massage up to four weeks before your due date. It may take a few tries to develop a comfortable routine, so, if possible, enlist the help of your partner. With less tearing during childbirth, your vagina will also sustain less damage.
What is the perineum?
The perineal region lies between the vaginal opening and the anus. Most new mums experience tears to this region while giving birth. However, it’s less common if you’ve already had a child. You can also experience internal tearing within the vagina, including the labia and other parts of the vulva.
Some women require an episiotomy, during which the obstetrician will make an incision to expand the vaginal opening. This procedure makes it easier for the baby to make their grand entrance into the world.
Minor tears heal naturally while larger tears or incisions may require stitches.
Benefits of perineal massage
According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, perineal massage has several benefits. Making your perineum flexible can prevent excess pressure on the baby's head. So, as well as protecting yourself, you can help keep the baby safe. Additionally, with a smoother birth, you may help prevent the use of vacuum suction or forceps during childbirth.
The perineum protects the floor of your pelvis. Making it more supple may expedite the healing process following the birth of your child. Considering how busy you will be, the healthier you are, the better!
You may also notice that perineal massage during pregnancy makes the skin in this sensitive area of the body softer.
Helps prevent tearing during delivery
Are you wondering how to prevent tearing during birth? As your due date approaches, your body starts to prepare the vaginal area by stretching out the muscles. You can help your body with a consistent perineal massage routine. The more you can stimulate the muscles within and surrounding the vagina, the more flexible the tissue will become.
Prevent the need for stitches
Although some tears are minor, others require stitches. No tears equal no stitches!
Reduce the risk of episiotomy
To prevent an episiotomy, maintain your routine of perineal massage for at least two weeks before your due date. Depending on the angle your baby enters the birth canal and other factors, your doctor may decide to do an episiotomy. This procedure involves making an incision that enlarges the birth canal.
You may not feel the cut due to the pain medication typically administered during childbirth. However, it can take some time to heal. Massaging the area during pregnancy may reduce the risk of infection and other complications that sometimes accompany healing wounds.
Here is step by step how to do perineal massage at home
Consider lighting a motherhood aromatherapy candle to relax as you prepare to begin the massage.
Wash your hands
Wash your hands thoroughly and ensure that your fingernails are cut short and smooth. If you have someone helping you, ask them to do the same.
Lay down and find a comfortable position
It's important to find a comfortable place to conduct the massage. We suggest finding a place that will give you uninterrupted privacy. Additionally, have your oil and mirror handy. We recommend Cradle & Tonic body oil. This aromatherapy body oil has a special formula designed for pregnant women. It can soften your skin, and it may even help prevent stretch marks. The natural ingredients include jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, healing lavender, Mandarin, and vitamin E.
The NCT suggests these locations and positions:
- Lying on the bed with your back propped up with pillows. Position your body so that you or your partner can reach the perineum easily.
- Stretching in the bath with one leg on the side of the tub. Avoid putting both legs up for safety reasons.
- Standing in the shower with one leg on a slip-resistant tool
Begin the process
Your partner can follow the same technique to learn how to massage a pregnant woman. Follow the steps below, making any adjustments needed for you to feel comfortable.
Stretch and relax
- Take a few deep breaths to relax.
- Place your thumbs about 2.5-4cm inside your vagina, pressing slightly against the back wall. Have your partner hold the mirror or hold one for them as they perform the technique.
- Press down, moving your thumbs toward your anus. The movement should result in a stretching feeling.
- Once you reach the anus, hold the stretch for two minutes.
- Gently massage the lower vagina for up to three minutes, emphasizing the perineal region. Move your thumbs upward and outward and back on each side of the vagina, making a U-shaped circuit.
- Repeat the process two to three times.
None of these motions should hurt. If you feel pressure, that's natural. However, if you experience pain, immediately stop the procedure and make sure you discuss the results with your doctor before trying it again.
Have an open discussion with your doctor about any conditions you have such as vaginal thrush, vaginal infection, or herpes. These and other conditions may increase your risk of infection.
Now you know how to give yourself a perineal massage for pregnancy. Women can benefit from regular massage during pregnancy too. However, it's always a good idea to speak with your medical professional prior to beginning any procedures, particularly in the last month of pregnancy.
The benefits of this remarkable technique can impact your life in a big way during and following childbirth. So, if you would like to reduce the risk of an episiotomy or vaginal tearing during birth, try perineal massages on your own.
We recommend Cradle & Tonic body oil to help you relax and make your perineal region supple in time for your baby’s arrival.