What is perineal massage?

Perineal massage is recommended by doulas and midwives to reduce tearing and pain

There is nothing you want more than for your baby to have a normal childbirth—except maybe less perineal trauma for you. Perineal massage during the late stage of pregnancy has been used for generations to prepare the perineum for delivery. It loosens the tight perineal muscles, which softens and flexes the birth canal.

Perineal massage is recommended by healthcare organizations: many studies have shown that it successfully reduces perineal trauma during birth, and can even allow you to recover faster, with less pain. Perineal massage can be done by you or a partner.

Traditional ways to perform a perineal massage

On your own

Reaching the perineum on your own is a challenge when the baby bump is in the way. However, it’s possible if you are flexible enough and have patience.

Here is how to do it on your own:

Step 1
Prepare

Find the best place to do the massage.

Step 2
Apply oil

Pour about a teaspoonful of massage oil and apply all over the fingertips and thumbs.

Step 3
Insert fingers

Place one or both thumbs on the back wall of the vagina with your forefingers resting on the buttocks.

Step 4
Massage

Press and move the fingers down towards the anus in a rhythmic, gentle movement. Continue for about 5-10 minutes each time.

With a partner

Perineal massage can be done by a partner. Studies have shown that in some cases this brings couples closer, but in others it causes embarrassment and tension.

If you have a partner help you with perineal massage:

Step 1
Prepare

Your partner sits across from you.

Step 2
Apply oil

Before the massage they should apply about a teaspoonful of massage oil over the fingertips and thumbs.

Step 3
Insert fingers

The partner then places one or both index fingers on the back wall of the vagina.

Step 4
Massage

The fingers are pressed and moved down towards the anus in a rhythmic, gentle movement. Continue for about 5-10 minutes each time.