Perineum Massage: Decrease Chance of Episiotomy

Michele Zipp

perineum massageIn all my readings about labor and delivery there is one word that continues to stand out and totally freak me out -- EPISIOTOMY

I cower in fear to that word.

An episiotomy is an incision made to the perineum to make the vaginal opening larger for the baby to fit through. Some women tear during birth as well.

Yes, I know, if I was to have an episiotomy, I wouldn't feel it thanks to numbing agents, but still -- cutting? My vagina! Oh my gosh I may just have to stop writing this post for a moment so I can calm down....

OK, I'm back. Shaking it off. Here's my good news: There are massages my husband can do to my perineum to prepare my area for birth. It helps make it more able to stretch without tearing. Like an athlete preparing for a big game or marathon, I'm prepping for my big event. Twins!

And doesn't it sounds kind of sexy? Kind of. I haven't seen my vagina lately since my belly is so big so I am a bit overgrown. So it's 70s style sexy, I guess. I can do it to myself, by why not let hubs do it? Thankfully, he's the one who read about it in The Birth Partner, so he's all for it.

So how do you do it?

  • Start with super clean hands, of course. And trim nails.
  • The mother should be comfortable in a semi-sitting position with legs bent and relaxed
  • Find your perineum -- the skin between your vagina and your anus.
  • Lube fingers with oil of your choice. No baby oil, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly. Some say extra virgin olive oil. (Or EVOO -- do you watch Rachael Ray? Have you seen Baby Mama? If so this may be funny to you.) You can also use a lubricant like vitamin E, wheat-germ oil, or a natural feminine lube.
  • Start with one finger and place in vagina to knuckle. 
  • Bend finger slightly and gently apply pressure downward toward anus and the direction the baby will be descending.
  • Maintaining pressure, rotate finger to make a "U" -- so if downward is 6 o'clock, think about rotating from 4 to 8 o'clock.
  • You may feel a tingling -- this is the stretch happening.
  • Repeat for ten minutes. Do daily, starting around your 34th week of pregnancy.
  • You can add fingers as the stretching progresses.

Have you tried a perineum massage? Would you?


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