How to perform perineal massage in preparation for childbirth

How to perform perineal massage in preparation for childbirth

Preparing your perineum for childbirth.

From 34 weeks pregnant, start a 5-10 minute perineal massage session 3-4 times a week. Best performed after a warm bath or shower. 

Before you start:

  • Make sure your bladder is empty.
  • Use clean washed hands with short trimmed nails.
  • Get comfortable, prop yourself upright with pillow to support your back. With your legs bent and feet apart.
  • Place a soft towel under your bottom.
  • Have a mirror at hand if you want to see better (optional)
  • Use a warm compress (a soft warmed washcloth) on your perineum or alternatively have a warm bath to soften skin tissues.
  • DO NOT perform perineal massage if you have a vaginal infection such as thrush or vaginal herpes

Follow these steps:

  • When you’re ready, apply perineal massage oil to your perineum (the skin between your vagina and bottom) and massage paying special attention to any previous scar tissue.
  • Place one or both thumbs inside the vagina and press down towards your rectum (bottom). Apply gentle pressure on your perineum for around 60 seconds then move your thumbs up and outwards in a ‘U’ type movement. Continue with gentle pressure for 60 seconds or until tingling sensation stops.  
  • Apply more oil if required and massage the perineal skin tissues between your thumb and forefinger in a sweeping motion from left to right for about 3-4 minutes
  • Repeat the above steps

You should feel a tingling or slight burning sensation as the muscles are stretched. This is a similar feeling when the baby’s head is crowning. Perineal massage should not be painful. If you experience pain stop, try more gentle pressure or discontinue. Being too vigorous can result in bruising and swelling of the tissues.   

If you are unable to reach comfortably you may wish to try an alternative position such as standing with one foot on a stool or chair.  Alternatively you could get your partner to perform the massage but instead of using their thumbs use 1-2 index fingers and follow the above steps.

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