Learn The Benefits
If you're hoping to avoid an episiotomy or tearing during delivery, you might want to consider the benefits of perineal massage. Certified Professional Midwife Nina McIndoe explains more about what this massage is, and how to do it. Your question
How do I do perineal massage, and what are the benefits? - Cora in Utica, New York
The expert answers
Perineal massage is a technique designed to nourish and condition the tissues of the perineum, the area between the vagina and the rectum. Traditionally in childbirth this area is surgically cut episiotomy to make more room for the baby to emerge. The purpose of perineal massage is to increase the possibility of delivering a baby without an episiotomy or a tear. It conditions the tissues, allowing them to stretch, thus resulting in less resistance to the birth of the baby.
If the muscles of the pelvic floor are relaxed, there will also be less resistance. Doing the massage helps a woman to identify those muscles and learn to relax them in response to the pressure of her baby's head when he is being born.
Ideally, perineal massage should be done daily for at least five minutes beginning at least six weeks before your due date. You can do this as a couple with your partner or you can do it yourself. You should use an oil that is natural such as wheat germ or vitamin E. Vitamin E is my personal favorite because of its ability to nourish the tissue. Tissue integrity has a lot to do with it's ability to accommodate your emerging infant.
To begin, wash your hands well and make yourself comfortable in either a semi sit position supported with pillows, or you may do this while sitting on the toilet. Lubricate your fingers with oil and rub the oil into the perineum and lower vaginal wall. Maintain steady pressure, sliding your thumbs (or your partner's fingers) upward along the sides of the vagina in a rhythmic U or sling-type movement. Concentrate on relaxing the muscles as you apply gentle pressure. If you feel a tight or tense muscle, consciously relax the muscle.
By doing this, you are also gaining conscious control of this area of you body and thus the ability to facilitate a gentle controlled birth for you and your baby.
Perineal massage should not be painful. If you feel
uncomfortable, slow down and be more gentle. As you do this
daily, you will find your tissues respond by becoming more
relaxed and stretchy and not quite so sensitive.