Perineal Massage: Worth a Try or a Waste of Time?
A How-To Guide
When to start: Begin perineal massage around 34 to 35 weeks into your pregnancy. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider first, in case there is something in your medical history that would make perineal massage inadvisable for you.
What you’ll need:
- A pair of thoroughly scrubbed hands (yours or your partner’s), with the nails neatly trimmed.
- An edible oil (many practitioners recommend vitamin E oil, olive oil, or other pure vegetable oil). A water-soluble lubricant such as K-Y Jelly will also work.
- A clean towel.
- A mirror for the first few massages, if you are unfamiliar with your perineal area (floor-to-ceiling may work best).
What to do: After your bath, find a private place and sit back on a towel in a comfortable position. Apply the oil or lubricant to your hands and around the perineum. Put your thumbs (or have your partner put both index fingers) about one to one-and-one-half inches (three to four centimeters) into your vagina.
Next, press firmly but gently downward towards your rectum. A little tingling is okay, discomfort or burning is not. These tissues are sensitive, especially during pregnancy. Being too vigorous could lead to swelling or bruising. Hold this stretch until the area begins to feel a little numb (around two minutes).
Then, maintaining steady pressure, gently move the fingers or thumbs back and forth upward along the sides of the vagina. Continue for around three to four minutes, being careful to avoid the urethra (urinary opening).
Perineal massage can be repeated daily, and in about a week, you’ll probably notice increased “stretchiness” in your perineal area.
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