Perineal tears during labour can understandably be worrying for women. Up to 9 in 10 first time mums will have some degree of graze, tear or episiotomy during a vaginal birth. If severe, tears can lead to problems down the line such as incontinence and pelvic floor weakness. So is there anything that really works to help the risk of this happening?
Perineal massage, if done correctly and regularly is a technique that can help prepare the perineum for labour.
Does it really work?
Yes! Perineal massage can help to reduce the risk of a tear of an episiotomy (where the midwife or doctor surgically cuts the perineum during labour) by about 10-20%. (Beckmann 2013).
There is additional evidence that it can help with perineal pain and recovery after birth. The impact was mainly seen in women who had not had a vaginal birth before.
When should I start it?
Typically, women are advised to do 10 minutes of massage a day from 34-35 weeks. Interesting the review by Beckmann and Garett showed benefit from massage as little as 1-2 x a week.
How do you do it?
Perineal massage involves massaging the area between your vagina and anus. Some women do it themselves or ask a partner to do it.
- Find a comfortable place
- Wash your hands and apply lubrication to the vulva and your fingers– unscented oils or lubricants.
- Insert your thumb 2-3 cm into the vagina and press down towards your anus (back passage) and sweep side to side 10 times in a U shape movement.
- Hold and stretch downwards towards your back passage for 1-2 minutes.
Are there any risks?
You should not do perineal massage If you have an infection such as thrush or herpes, if your waters have broken or if you have vaginal bleeding.
” Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. For The Creators has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. “