This is a comprehensive guide to perineal stretching for expectant mothers. It includes step-by-step instructions on how to perform perineal stretching, along with its benefits and precautions. After reading this article, you should have the knowledge and techniques to help you prepare your perineum for childbirth and potentially reduce the risk of perineal trauma.
What is Perineal Stretching?
Perineal stretching (also known as perineal massage or perineum massage) is a technique that involves gently stretching the tissues of the perineum, the area between the vaginal opening and the anus. The aim is to increase the flexibility and elasticity of these tissues, allowing them to stretch more easily during childbirth.
Benefits of Perineal Stretching
Performing perineal stretching regularly in the weeks leading up to delivery offers several potential benefits:
Reducing the Risk of Tears and Episiotomies
Research suggests that perineal stretching may help reduce the likelihood of severe tears (especially third and fourth degree tears) and the need for episiotomies during childbirth. By increasing the suppleness of the perineal tissues, the stretching allows them to stretch more easily, potentially reducing trauma during delivery.
Easing Discomfort and Pain
Expectant mothers often experience discomfort and pain in the perineal area as their pregnancy progresses. Perineal stretching can help alleviate these discomforts by promoting blood flow, reducing tension, and improving overall relaxation.
Engaging in perineal stretching can help you become more aware of your pelvic floor muscles and improve your control over them. Strengthening these muscles can be beneficial not only during pregnancy but also in postpartum recovery.
Enhancing Pelvic Floor Muscle Control
How to Perform Perineal Stretching: Step-by-Step Guide
Now let's walk you through the step-by-step process of performing perineal stretching. You can do perineal stretching with your fingers or with a tool such as the Perimom Perineal Massager.
Before you begin, take a nice warm shower to relax. If you are using your fingers, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly, and that you trim your nails. Find a comfortable position.
1. Gather the Necessary Supplies
- A clean towel or cloth
- A natural perineal massage oil or lubricant
2. Find a Comfortable Position
- Sit or lean back in a relaxing position in the batch, on your bed or on the coach, with your knees bent and apart.
- You can also try other positions. But your safety is paramount!
3. Performing Perineal Stretching with your thumbs
- If you are doing perineal stretching with your thumbs, apply a small amount of natural unscented perineal massage oil to your fingers and the perineal area.
- Insert your fingers into the vagina up to about an inch (2-3 cm) and press gently downward towards the rectum.
- Slowly and gradually stretch the tissues by moving your fingers apart, applying outward pressure.
- Maintain a gentle stretching motion for approximately 2-3 minutes.
4. Performing Perineal Stretching Using the Perimom Perineal Massage Tool
- The Perimom Perineal Massage tool is designed to assist with perineal stretching.
- Wash the tool using soapy water.
- Apply lubricant (such as almond oil for perineal massage) to the tip of the tool using the built in oil channel.
- Gently insert the rounded end of the tool into the vagina, following the instructions provided with the tool.
- Use the handle or grip on the tool to apply gentle and controlled stretching movements.
- Be cautious and mindful of your comfort level, adjusting the pressure and intensity as needed.
6. Relax and Breathe
- Take slow, deep breaths as you perform the stretching to promote relaxation.
- Do the massage of 5-10 minutes a day, 3 times a week.
Aim to perform perineal stretching three times a week, starting around the 34th week of pregnancy.
Feel free to watch perineal stretching videos available on YouTube
While perineal stretching is generally safe and beneficial, it's important to keep a few precautions and tips in mind:
Precautions and Tips
- Always consult with your healthcare provider before starting perineal stretching, especially if you have any existing medical conditions or concerns.
- If you experience pain or discomfort during the stretching, stop immediately and consult your healthcare provider.
- Remember to relax and breathe deeply throughout the stretching to enhance its effectiveness.
- If you're using the Perimom Perineal Massage tool, carefully follow the instructions provided with the tool and exercise caution.
Remember, perineal stretching is just one aspect of preparing your body for childbirth. Ensure you have a well-rounded approach to prenatal care, including regular check-ups, a balanced diet, participating in a childbirth preparation class, and perineal exercise and even prenatal yoga. Stay informed, trust your instincts, and embrace the joyous journey of becoming a mother.