Perineal massage (Preparing your body for labor)
Why do it?
Massaging the area between your vaginal opening and anus (perineum) in the last weeks before labor may help to stretch these tissues in preparation for childbirth. This may help minimize stinging when your baby’s head emerges from your vaginal opening. It may even help you avoid the need for an incision in your perineum that enlarges your vaginal opening (episiotomy) as the baby’s head is emerging. Midwives have long recommended perineal massage. There isn’t yet definitive evidence that it prevents trauma to the perineum, but some studies have shown promising results.
How to do it
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and make sure your nails are trimmed. Then put K-Y jelly or some other mild lubricant on your thumbs and insert them inside your vagina. Press downward toward the rectum, stretching the tissues. Repeat daily for about eight to 10 minutes. Your partner can help with this process, if you wish. You may experience a little burning or other discomfort as you massage your perineum. This is normal. However, stop if you feel sharp pain.
A couple of additional points: You don’t have to practice perineal massage if the idea of it makes you feel uncomfortable. And if you do it, it’s no guarantee that you won’t have an episiotomy. Certain birth situations, such as those involving a large baby or a baby in an abnormal position, require an episiotomy for the safety of the baby. You’ll just have to wait and see what your experience of labor and childbirth brings.
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Posted in Pregnancy