The perineum is the area between the anus and the vaginal entry. Massaging this area in the final weeks of pregnancy can reduce your risk of tearing during labour and birth.
The female perineum is regularly stretched, pushed and put under pressure (during sexual intercourse, toileting, when constipated, during heavy exercise and monthly periods), however a natural birth puts your perineal area to the ultimate test.
Many women experience a vaginal or perineal tear during a natural birth (yes, so we are all squirming at that statement…ouch!). Some women experience much greater tears (also referred to as third or fourth-degree tears or episiotomy) and recovery is much longer and future problems may arise.
Studies show that massaging this area can improve elasticity and physically prepares your perineal skin for the intensive process of birthing your baby.
There are two ways to massage your perineum;
One is to use an EPI-NO Childbirth and Pelvic Floor Trainer:
German innovation is making a natural childbirth easier. EPI-NO Childbirth Trainer reduces the risks of tearing, & episiotomy (stitches) during a natural birth. Used early in pregnancy to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, EPI-NO exercises change after Week 36 to prepare the perineum. A Melbourne Study concluded 'EPI-NO is beneficial in decreasing damage to the perineum during vaginal birth' (reference and for more information, click here)
Dr Chong recommends perineal massage from around 36 weeks and highly recommends this practise for patients with past issues within this area and/or fears or birth-related tearing and perineal stress.
The second way is to manually massage and stretch your perineum yourself (or with your partners support).
How do I massage my perineum?
Search Youtube for some more visual tutorials.
As we discussed last week on the blog, when we are feeling nervous or overly stressed during childbirth (yes, some nerves and worry is normal, but too much can have negative effects) our bodies tense up; making the labour and birthing process even harder. Prepare your mind and body as much as possible for the birth and ensure your doing what you can to strengthen and soften your perineum, and training your pelvic floor muscles.
Your recovery, body and post-birth experience will thank you for it!
For any concerns, questions or clarifications, please book an appointment with Dr Chong.
Image found on Wikipedia HERE
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