Find out what perineal massage is and how it might work to help you avoid a tear or episiotomy when you give birth. The pressure of giving birth on your perineum means it can tear or need an episiotomy surgical cut when your baby is born. An episiotomy is a non-routine surgical cut to the vaginal opening, which helps speed up delivery during a difficult labour or helps to avoid tears. Many women experience pain, discomfort and sexual difficulties for up to three months after a perineal tear or episiotomy Beckmann and Stock, ; Driscoll, Perineal massage is a way of helping to prepare the perineum for childbirth, making it more flexible so it can stretch more easily during labour Beckmann and Stock, Massaging the perineum might reduce the chances of a tear or an episiotomy during labour and reduce perineal pain afterwards Beckman and Garrett, This is particularly the case for women giving birth vaginally for the first time Beckmann and Stock,
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Perineal Massage – How To Massage Your Perineum
Perineum - Wikipedia
Antenatal perineal massage APM or birth canal widening BCW is the massage of a pregnant woman's perineum around the opening to the vagina , performed anywhere in the 4 to 6 weeks before childbirth and usually on separate occasions. The practice aims to more gently mimic the massaging action of a baby's head on the opening to the birth canal prior to birth, which enables some of the hard work of labour to be done before the start of labour. The intention is to attempt to prevent tearing of the perineum during birth, and reduce the need for an episiotomy or an instrument forceps or vacuum extraction delivery. The Oxford Radcliffe NHS Trust Document "Antenatal Perineal Massage" describes the use of the pregnant mother's thumbs being placed just inside the birth canal, whilst she stands with one foot supported on the toilet. It is not possible to stretch this opening further causing damage, because this will be limited by the distance between the bony walls of the pelvis. The goal of APM is to prevent the baby's head from undergoing excessive strain during the last 30 minutes of labour.
Why and how to do perineal massage
But does perineal massage prevent tearing at birth? Do women need to massage their own perineums during the final weeks of pregnancy? Should women consent to this technique during the pushing stage of labor?
Perineal massage during late pregnancy may encourage elasticity and reduce the risk of tearing during childbirth. The perineum is the area between the vaginal opening and anus. Some women choose to use perineal massage as a way of hopefully reducing their risk of perineal trauma during childbirth. Studies have found evidence that regular perineal massage towards the end of the pregnancy can reduce the risk of tearing in first time mothers.