What is a Perineal Massage?

Perineal massage is a technique often used by the pregnant mother, or partner, to prep the pelvic floor for vaginal childbirth. It is the method of stretching and introducing pressure sensations to the perineum (birth passage usually stretched during the crowning stage of vaginal birth). The aim is to decrease the risk of tearing or episiotomy (a cut made by an obstetrician to enlarge the birthing outlet). So, how is it done?
Firstly, make sure you are prepped and ready by following these steps:
▫️ Make sure your bladder is empty
▫️ Washed and cleaned hands
▫️ Find a relaxing time and place to perform a massage
▫️ Use a mirror to become familiar with the anatomy of the vaginal opening and the perineum
▫️ BONUS: warm bath before completing the massage!

Then, complete the massage by these steps:
1. Put a lubricant or natural oil of your choice on your (or your partner’s) thumbs and the perineum
2. Place thumbs inside the vagina to a depth of 3-5cm (thumbs facing down)
3. Start with a gentle pressure downwards towards the rectum (back passage) and then slide outwards, boarding the vaginal opening. Make sure to stretch the opening until a slight burning, stinging, or tingly sensation is felt.
4. Continue the above technique slowly and gently, maintaining pressure (and increasing as tolerated) and pulling the perineum forward slightly as the thumbs sweep to the sides in a ‘U’ shape motion.
5. Complete for approximately 5 minutes or as tolerated. You can always start small and build upon the overall time and pressures.
6. Throughout the massage, try and focus on some relaxed breathing which in turn relaxes the pelvic floor muscles, allowing the tissues to stretch.
7. Complete every few days until it’s time to birth!

perineal massage

**NOTE: When to not complete perineal massage:
– Prior to 34 weeks of pregnancy
– If you have placenta praevia
– Any bleeding from the vaginal from 20 weeks pregnancy
– Suffering from vaginal herpes, thrush or any other vaginal infection

Chloe Petith – Physiotherapist

Need a better explanation? Maybe someone to show you how to perform this massage or show your partner how to do this? Book with one of our Physiotherapists today that hold a special interest in Women’s Health.

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