One of my favorite things about teaching birthing classes is when I come to the topic of perineal massage – and yes – other controversial things! I love to get super animated and break up the quiet a bit. People are so shocked to hear that there are things such as perineal massage – and that it is controversial.
The concept of prenatal perineal massage is to help mom be more comfortable during the birthing process as well as to help alleviate the chances of tearing or the need for an episiotomy. This is not a guarantee… but every little bit helps.
Prenatal perineal massage encourages mom to become more acquainted with her body. It helps her tissues to become more pliable and flexible. The technique is pretty easy to do and also easy to work into your routine!
Lubricate your pointer and middle fingers with oil – preferably organic olive or coconut oil as they are all natural and anti-bacterial – NEVER USE CANOLA OR VEGETABLE OIL IN YOUR VAGINA. Then insert your fingers to about the second knuckle and massage your fingers around the inside edge of your perineum. If you find you have a spot where it feels tighter than the rest, you can put some pressure on it and do some slow breaths to help loosen it. You continue the massage for about 5 minutes and this is done twice a day starting at 32 – 35 weeks.
Things to be aware of – if this process hurts in any way, don’t put your fingers in as far or use as much pressure. If you find that you surely can’t see down there – how the heck are you gonna reach down there? We have that covered too 😉 You can stand, place one foot on a chair and reach from behind with your thumb. You can also invite your partner for assistance – which can be very helpful and relaxing as well 😉
I do my best to let everyone know – that every little bit helps. I didn’t set a 5 minute timer every time I did perineal massage. I made it easy on myself. I put some oil in the bathroom and some oil in the bedroom. After I got out of the shower in the morning, I would do some perineal massage. Before I got into bed, I would do some perineal massage. Easy peasy. Every little bit helps. And we were so thankful to have successful vaginal births with no tearing or episiotomy.
There is also perineal massage that can be done during the birth process. This is something the provider can do and they can even use a warm oil. You would want to discuss with your provider ahead of time on whether they are more hands-on or hands-off in the birthing process and if you have a preference to either one.
Now I know you’re wondering why on earth this would be controversial. Some providers believe it is a waste of time and doesn’t really help. And yes, your birth path will naturally lubricate itself when the time comes. Also yes, having a more of a hands-off provider can be a godsend, and sometimes having a little extra perineal massage during birthing can be the difference between calm & a little more comfy and not so much.
As usual, the best thing to do is to research it on your own. Look at the pros and cons, and then decide what will work best for you 🙂 Also – reaching out to a pelvic floor specialist with questions is something that many women choose – in and out of the realm of birth. Pelvic floor specialists can also be incredibly helpful for postpartum mamas.
So that’s the ins and outs of perineal massage. Did you choose to utilize this with your births or do you think you will or won’t? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
And of course be sure to join us next time – til then, be sure to stay happy, healthy & hydrated ☺️