What is ‘Perineal’ Massage?

My final piece of work before qualifying as a midwife focused on perineal massage. I was really interested in whether a technique could help reduce tears during birth, the need for stiches and could improve the overall experience. Research suggests that 85% of women will have some sort of tearing during birth, with 75% of women needing stiches, with these figures it felt beneficial to explore whether there is anything midwives could recommend to prepare you for birth.

As part of my antenatal education I offer a discussion about perineal massage at the end of the class, as an optional extra, but everyone always stays!
It would appear this technique is good for all pregnant women, but in particular first-time mums, those over the age of 35 or if you frequently ride a horse.
So what is it??
The massage technique is thought to be most beneficial commencing four to six weeks before the baby is due. Almond oil or a water-based lubricant is commonly used. One or two fingers are placed two-three centimeters inside the vagina. The massage is to press downwards and to the sides of the vagina at the same time, gently and firmly stretching, keeping a sustained pressure, massaging back and forth for approximately three to four minutes. This can become harder towards the end of pregnancy and may require partner participation to assist you.
Recently more and more pregnant women ask me about a birth training device called Epi-No. This device prepares the perineum for birth, can be used in conjunction with perineal massage, does not require partner participation and can be a pelvic floor trainer after birth. Research suggests that the use of the Epi-no significantly increases the likelihood of not needing stiches. Women that have used say that “ they felt more in control when pushing especially when the babies head is being born…from using the device they knew what position to birth in…they would use it again if they had another baby”
To find out more look at http://www.epi-no.co.uk
This is the future of perineal massage….