How to Prevent Perineal Tearing During Labour


The perineum is the area of muscle between your vagina and back passage and forms part of the support given to the pelvic floor, which aids control over your lower internal organs. Most first-time mums will suffer some degree of tearing during childbirth. However, research has shown that massaging the perineum can help to stretch more easily during the birthing of your baby.

Massage increases the elasticity of the muscle which, in turn, helps with stretching and can reduce the need for episiotomy (a small cut made to facilitate the delivery of your baby). It is particularly useful if you have previous scar tissue or a rigid perineum from long term activities such as horse riding or dancing.

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Suggested Positions

  • Prop yourself up using pillows on a bed or a sofa.
  • Lay back in the bath with one leg over the side.
  • Stand with your leg up on a stool in the shower (be very careful though as your balance may not be as it should be).
  • Sit on a clean, open toilet seat with legs wide apart.
  • Use a small amount of oil.
  • Ensure you are in a comfortable position.
  • Place one or both thumbs within the back wall of the lower vagina.
  • Gently press down towards the back passage.
  • Then move from side to side for 3-4 minutes at a time.

These will make the massage a bit more comfortable as your hips and back need support and bump can get in the way quite a bit at this stage too.

Massaging your perineum from 34-weeks can reduce the risk of trauma in this area and increases blood flow which will later aid recovery.

How to Massage your Perineum

Starting from 34 weeks either you or your partner can perform the massage. Using an oil is essential, however, expensive oils are not necessary. For many years, midwives have recommended using almond oil, which is a natural and odourless oil and does the job perfectly.

This should result in a slight burning and stretching feeling; however, it shouldn’t be painful. It’s an idea to practise your hypnobirthing or slow breathing techniques while you massage to stay nice and relaxed.

Getting into a routine of doing these 3 to 4 times per week will hopefully reduce the significance of any tearing.

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