Perineal Massage

Some women do this exercise in preparation for labor and start it a few weeks before their due date. This massage can help make your vaginal muscles ready for stretching during birth, thereby minimizing vaginal tears or reducing the need for an episiotomy.

It is recommended that you start doing this massage about six weeks before your due date. Be aware that not all health care providers endorse this type of massage, so be sure to speak with your midwife or obstetrician as to whether doing a perineal massage will be helpful for you.

You can do the massage yourself or ask your partner to help you. If you are doing it yourself, it may be a good idea to sit near a full-length mirror to help you see what you are doing. Also, make sure you (or your partner) has clean hands and short nails.

  • Sitting in a comfortable position with your legs apart, similar to a semi-sitting birthing position, place some vegetable oil or water-soluble lubricant on your fingers and thumbs as well as around your perineum (the area between your vagina and anus).
  • Insert your thumbs into your vagina, about as far as the first knuckle. Spread your legs and then press down on the perineal area. You want to press the area down as well as to the sides at the same time. Keep stretching the area until there is a slight burning or tingling sensation. Be gentle, though!
  • Continue holding the stretch until you no longer feel any tingling. It should subside after a few minutes.
  • When there is no more tingling, massage the lower part of your vaginal canal with a gentle back and forth motion. At the same time, clasp your thumbs onto the sides of your vaginal canal. Mimic the action of your baby’s head during birth by gently pulling the vaginal tissue forward. Hold this position for a few minutes.
  • End the session by using your thumb and forefinger to gently massage the tissue lying between them. Massage in a back and forth motion for about a minute.

Remember, it is important to use a soft gentle touch for this massage; you can easily cause bruising or swelling if you use too strong a touch. You’ll also want to avoid applying any pressure on the urethra since this can lead to irritation or infection.

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