Generally speaking, these are not what are usually referred to as fun to do (!), but these exercises, along with Kegels, can prove to be an essential part in preparing the perineum for birth.
Starting at 34-35 weeks of pregnancy, practicing perineal massage daily can ready the body and mind for the very real sense of burning that may occur during the infamous “ring of fire”, especially for first-time moms. I believe it made a big difference in both of my birthing experiences.
Perineum massage may also reduce or prevent tearing to the perineum during birth, as well as the need for an episiotomy.
With yours or your partner’s fingers, you want to gently stretch the perineum, the tissues and muscles, like in the following images.
Don’t be embarrassed! It’s worth it! And if your partner’s the one lending a hand, it might give them a sense that they’re participating and able to help out. This can even become a daily moment to share in the final weeks before the arrival of your new baby. Start around week 34 or 35, a few minutes a day if you can.
The following is a free translation I did of a document I received with unknown credits. Thank you to the authors!
#1: Wash your hands.
#2: Oil the perineum and the lower part of the vagina rim.
(Recommended oils include pure vegetable oil or Sweet Almond Oil)
#3: Insert the index and the middle finger (or the thumb) into the vagina (3 or 4cm). (Illustration 7)
#4: Move the fingers in half-circles by pressing the perineum towards the anus and then to the sides for 30 seconds. (Illustration 7)
#5: Very gently, create an opening of the vagina by pressing and stretching with the index and middle fingers, until there is a light sensation of burning or tingling. (Illustration 8)
#6: Maintain this stretch for 1 minute, so that this zone starts to feel numb.
*This will probably create a sustained “stinging” sensation that can give an idea as to how it may feel at birth. As much as possible, try to keep the bum, thighs and hips relaxed, while using belly breathing.
#7: For 30 seconds, massage the thin skin on the lower rim of the vagina with the index and thumb. It will become thicker and less sensitive. You will notice the effects after 2 or 3 weeks of doing this massage. (Illustration 9)
#8: Massage the perineum with circular motions for 30 seconds. If it applies, concentrate the movements of the massage on the scar of any previous episiotomies, as this tissue will be less elastic. (Illustration 10)
#9: Relax the muscles of the face, the mouth and the legs while you practice these massages. Visualize your perineum stretching and opening, and mentally say to yourself:
“I am opening the passage for my baby. My perineum is supple and relaxed.”
#10: Wash your hands and vulva.
* Focus on keeping a steady breath and on letting the body relax and release, buttocks, belly, thighs, shoulders and face, a relaxation practice for both during contractions and delivery of the baby.
* You can start these exercises around 34 or 35 weeks of pregnancy, once a day, in preparation for birth.
* The muscles that get stretched during the birthing of the baby will be able to find their tone once again with Kegel Exercises.
Are you wondering about birth preparation?
In this ebook I share the tips, tools and thoughts from my yoga and dance background that were helpful for me in preparation for birth and during labor, including pain management techniques, relaxation exercises and mental preparation tips.
Hi! I’m Myriam, a former dancer turned yoga teacher based in Montreal. I’m also mama to two unbearably beautiful little ones, ages 1 and 4. 🙂 I believe in the virtues of bringing breath and body awareness as well as humor and loving-kindness to new mamas, and mamas-to-be! Read more→
Here are some links to Perineum Massage Oils, including a link to the Sweet Almond Oil mentioned above. They are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using these links. Your price doesn’t change but this commission helps support this site. Thank you!
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