Perineum massage (otherwise known as perineal massage) is a gentle form of massage applied to the perineum, which is the area located between the anus and the genitals. This type of massage is a perineal stretch that has been used for centuries as a way to prepare a woman’s body for labor. Many studies have shown this massage can reduce the risk of tearing during childbirth, thus helping to minimize postpartum pain and recovery time.
The benefits of perineum massage include:
- Reducing pain during labor
- Reduces chances of an episiotomy
- Decreasing the risk of tears during childbirth and having fewer stitches as a result
- Improving flexibility in tissues around the birth canal
- Increasing circulation to help with delivery
What is the Perineum and Where is the Perineum Located?
The perineum is a diamond-shaped area located between the anus and vagina in females (and between the anus and scrotum in males). It contains several important muscles that are involved in maintaining continence, sexual activity, childbirth, as well as other body functions. Read more about what is the perineum.
The skin of the perineum
The skin of the perineum can easily be damaged due to extreme pressure during labor, which may lead to pain and scarring. Its fragility is also why proper care should be taken when performing any type of massage on this sensitive area.
Benefits of Perineum Massage: Improved circulation, additional flexibility, pain relief
Perineum massage offers a range of benefits, from improved circulation and pain relief to reduced risk of tearing during childbirth. This type of massage helps relax the muscles in the perineum, which can reduce discomfort during labor. Additionally, it can also help improve the elasticity of the tissue around the birth canal, minimizing post-delivery scarring and postpartum pain.
How to perform a perineum massage
Performing a perineum massage requires little more than a few minutes of your time, a few times a week. It is generally done using unscented perineal massage oil such as almond oil or olive oil to ensure smooth movements and prevent any irritation on this delicate area. With consistent practice, this technique can be an effective way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles in preparation for childbirth while promoting healing and elasticity of the skin in this region.
- If you are doing perineal massage on your own - To begin, ensure that your hands and the area where you’re doing the massage are clean. Then, apply gentle pressure on both sides of the perineum using your thumbs or index fingers. Move in a U-shaped motion, moving from the sides of your vagina downwards to your perineum, and then back up again. Continue this for several minutes until you feel a comfortable perineal stretching sensation.
- If you are doing perineum massage with a partner - If you find it uncomfortable or impossible to do the massage on your own, perhaps your partner can help. You should be comfortable asking and this should not be the cause of tension. To begin, make sure your partner has freshly washed hands and trimmed nails. The massage is performed with your partner sitting across from you, and you should lean back on a pillow. The technique should be the same as when you do it on your own except your partner will probably use the index fingers rather than thumbs.
- If you are doing the perineum massage with Perimom - Perimom is a perineal stretching tool that helps women do the massage on their own, completely unaided. It is the only perineal massage tool in the world with both FDA-registration and CE approval. With Perimom the massage is done by placing the tip of the device’s thumb-shaped tip one or two inches (3 to 5 cm) inside the vagina. Apply oil through the dedicated oil channel. Then, start stoking the perineal area in a U-shaped motion for five to ten minutes. Repeat this three to four times a week. You should feel your perineum becoming more supple over time.
Tips for successful perineal massaging
It is recommended that you educate yourself about what is the perineum and the benefits of perineum massage first. Consult with your healthcare professional before you start anything new.
It is recommended to start perineum massage between the 34th to 35th weeks of pregnancy.
Here are some additional tips for successful perineal massaging:
- Use additive-free unscented perineal massage oils such as sweet almond oil or olive oil to avoid irritation and ensure smooth movements.
- Perform the massage in a comfortable and relaxed position such as lying down or in a semi-inclined position.
- Perform the massage for anywhere between five to ten minutes, three times a week.
- Adjust the pressure as necessary, applying firm but gentle pressure at all times.
- If you experience pain, stop immediately and try again another time. You should feel the perineum stretch, but it shouldn’t hurt.
Risks and precautions with perineal massaging
If your pregnancy is normal, you should not have any limitations on doing this massage.
You should not do perineum massage in the following cases:
- If you are in a high-risk pregnancy group
- If you have pre-term contractions
- If you have been diagnosed as being at risk for pre-term labor
- If you have placenta previa
- If you have an active herpes outbreak or other vaginal or sexually transmitted disease
- If you have vaginal bleeding
- If you have a risk for placental abruption
- If you are pregnant with multiple fetuses when the lower one is in breach presentation
- If you have undergone a surgical procedure in the perineal region
Finally, if you’re unsure of how to perform perineal massage or experience any difficulties during the process, consult with your healthcare provider for assistance.
When to seek professional help perineal massage
If you’re not familiar with performing perineal massage or have a difficult time doing it on your own, seek professional help from a qualified healthcare provider or certified pelvic floor therapist. They can provide guidance and advice on proper technique.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is perineal massage safe during pregnancy?
A: Yes, providing the massage is done properly and with caution. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider before performing the massage if you’re unfamiliar with the proper technique. Additionally, always use an oil-based lubricant such as almond oil to ensure smooth movements and avoid any irritation on this delicate area.
Q: How often should I perform a perineal massage?
A: Consider starting to do it at about 34-35 weeks from gestation. There is no evidence that shows that it is beneficial to start massage earlier. Aim for three to five times per week in order to maximize benefits.
Q: What if I can’t reach my perineum on my own?
A: You can ask a partner to help. Or you can use the Perimom Perineal Massage tool.
Click here for more Frequently Asked Questions about perineal massage.
We hope this guide has been helpful and provided you with valuable insight into this area of the world of perinatal health care.
Good luck on your journey to a healthy pregnancy!
If you have questions we haven’t answered, you should contact your healthcare provider. They can provide more detailed information and advice on the topic.