Perineal Massage During Pregnancy

Submitted by Pregnancy and Baby Care team on August 16, 2012

Pregnant women, especially if pregnant with their first baby, are worried and fearful about tears and episiotomies during labor. The perineum is the area of tissue situated in between the vagina and your back passage. When your baby is being delivered, this tissue stretches and becomes very thin. It can sometimes become so thin that it tears during delivery.


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The good news though is, that the more elastic and stretchy the tissue is, the less likely is to tear. The benefits of perineal massage in pregnancy are that it helps you cope with the stinging sensation felt as the baby’s head crowns and avoid tears.

So what is a perineal massage then?

Perineal massage during pregnancy is the stretching and massage of the perineum of a pregnant woman before delivery. Research has proven that women delivering their first child can lessen the chances of needing stitches if they have perineal massages during the last six weeks of pregnancy, although some recommend it begin around 34 to 35 weeks into the pregnancy.

As with any complimentary or alternative therapy, it is always best to check with your gynecologist before starting perineal massages. It could prove harmful if not done properly. Women who have had a history of premature rupture of membranes, premature labor and or a vaginal infection should do perineal massages with caution.

Perineal massage during pregnancy is the gentle rubbing of the perineum with mild vegetable based oils such as almond, wheatgerm, olive, grapeseed or vitamin E oil. What you will need for this massage is: 

  • Clean scrubbed hands with nails neatly trimmed
  • Edible oil or a water-soluble lubricant such as K-Y Jelly
  • A clean towel
  • A mirror for the first few massages to locate the exact spot

After a bath, sit on a towel in a comfortable position. Apply oil or lubricant around the perineum and on your hands. Insert your thumbs, about one to one and a half inches into the vagina. Firmly but gently press downward towards your rectum. Maintain steady pressure and gently move thumbs back and forth upward, along the sides of the vagina. Do this for three to four minutes. Experiencing a little tingling feeling is ok but stop, if you feel any discomfort or burning sensation. Remember, don’t rub too vigorously or it could lead to swelling or bruising. It is best to consult your gynecologist or a qualified mid-wife before beginning perineal massages.

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