Perineal massage refers to using massage to help prepare your perineum for birth. The perineum is the area between the vagina and the rectum. The perineum is stretched during childbirth, and often will tear or be cut by your physician during labor. This is referred to as an episiotomy.
Tearing of the perineum and/or an episiotomy can be extremely painful and add greatly to the recovery time after a vaginal birth. Massaging the perineum stretches the skin and prepares the tissue. It also helps you learn the sensations of birth and how to control the muscles in this area. Even if an episiotomy is necessary, perineal massage can help make this incision easier to recover from.
To perform perineal massage, follow these steps:
– Wash and sanitize your hands, and trim your nails.
– Find a warm, comfortable area to sit.
– Use a mirror to find your perineum, to see what it looks like. A full length mirror works best.
– Apply a lubricant such as KY Jelly, Vitamin E oil, massage oil or pure vegetable oil to your thumbs and the perineum.
– Insert your thumbs into the vagina and spread your legs.
– Press downward and pull towards the sides. You will feel a tingling or burning, but you should not feel any large amount of pain.
– Hold this press for about 2 minutes.
– Rub your perineum between your thumb and forefingers back and forth for one minute.
– After you’ve mastered the technique, add kegel exercises to the process.
You can begin to do this massage around the 34th week of your pregnancy. If you are further along and haven’t started, there is still benefit from doing it. You can do this massage as often as once a day.