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Perineal massage is a very helpful massage that you can practice during pregnancy. It will increase your chances of having an easier labor and delivery and reduce the possibility of tearing. It is also one of the key elements for the success of hypnobirthing.
It works by improving the health, blood flow, elasticity and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. When your perineal rim is soft and relaxed, the folds of the perineum open easily, and the baby can slip past the rim and out of the vagina.
It needs to be practiced towards the end of pregnancy, 6 to 8 weeks prior to the due date. Every day for at least 5 minutes.
It may be easier having your partner or someone else do the massage for you, as your big belly might make it quite uncomfortable for you to practice. If your partner is doing the massage, they would use the first two fingers. If you do it yourself, it may be easier to use the thumb. You can use virgin olive oil, sweet, almond or apricot oil, or lubricating gel. Avoid perfumed oils.
Perineal massage during pregnancy: the technique
Sit with your back against some pillows and get comfortable. Insert the finger(s) into the vagina, approximately two to three inches, pressing downward on the area between the vagina and the rectum. Rub the oil into the inner edge of the perineum and the lower vaginal wall.
Maintaining a steady pressure, slide the fingers upward along the sides of the vagina in a U type motion. This pressure will stretch the vaginal tissue, the muscles surrounding the vaginal, and the outer rim of the perineum.
At the beginning you will feel the muscles being quite tight. However, with time and practice, the tissue will feel softer and more relaxed.