Because of the cancellation of parenting education courses due to the current pandemic, I want to share some information that I normally share in my own classes!
One thing that I personally am an advocate of, is perineal massage. The reason being, is that not only do I see results from my midwifery clients, I have seen first hand the effects.
With my son, Flynn, I unfortunately endured a 3B tear and did have quite a few complications from this: you can listen to my birth stories here on Australian Birth Stories. Even though I had a water birth and pushed slowly and controlled, which are both shown to reduce the risk of perineal tearing, it was not my experience unfortunately.
With my daughter, Florence, I was determined to not endure a 3rd degree again! So I practiced perineal massage daily, and this, combined with great positioning and assistance from amazing midwife, I proceeded to have a vaginal birth with NOT EVEN A SCRATCH! Gosh my recovery was so much better!
The perineum is the area between the vagina (birth canal) and the anus/rectum and is the area that stretches to allow your baby through during childbirth.
This area is designed to stretch, a LOT! Perineal massage is the method used to help to stretch the skin and prepare you for the sensations of tingling, burning or stinging (ring of fire) as your baby’s head is birthed. This can be started around 34-35 weeks pregnant (unless contraindicated so check with your OB/Midwife if it is ok to do) and is done once a day.
You can do this yourself, or your partner can help, and you use your fingers, thumbs or both to rub and stretch the perineum! It will assist in increasing the stretchiness and flexibility and can reduce your risk of having a tear or needing an episiotomy. To make it more comfortable it is recommended to use a lubricant or oil – I personally loved the Weleda perineal massage oil because it is all natural and formulated for massages!