Perineal massage is a technique that helps increase the elasticity of the perineum for birth.
Preparing your perineum (the area of skin and muscles between your vagina and anus - the opening to your back passage) will help the muscle and skin to stretch more easily during vaginal birth.
It may also help you to know your body better and prepare you for the feeling of pressure and stretching that you will feel during the birth.
Regular perineal massage from 34 weeks of pregnancy makes you less likely to need an episiotomy or to have a tear that needs stitches, particularly if this is your first vaginal birth.
It’s recommended to do them 3-4 times a week for 3-4 minutes. With each massage, the tissues and muscles will feel more relaxed and softer so that the length of the massage can be increased.
You can do the massage on your own or with the help of your partner.
Prepare your body
Take a warm bath or use a warm washcloth compress to soften the area (10 minutes).
After washing your hands, settle into a relaxed, comfortable position, bringing your knees together and towards your chest and then open your knees like a book.
You could also try squatting against a wall, or standing with one foot raised and resting on the bath, toilet or a chair.
Put a small amount of massage oil on your perineum to make the massage more comfortable. You can use our Perineal Massage Oil or a food-based oil such as sweet almond, olive or sunflower oil.
Step by Step Guide for a Perineal Massage
Using your thumbs (or index finger if your partner is massaging), insert them into your vagina to around the second finger joint and then place your forefingers on the skin of your perineum.
Press downwards towards your anus and to the sides until you feel a slight burning stretching sensation. Hold the stretch for 1 to 2 minutes.
Massage the area between your thumb and fingers outwards and upwards and back again in a “U” shape.
With time and practice, as your perineum becomes more elastic, you will increase your ability to relax and can increase the pressure towards your rectum.
Being able to relax through this feeling of increased pressure will help you to relax as you feel the pressure in labour and your baby’s head is about to be born.
If you feel pain at any point, stop and try again another time. If you continue to and this painful speak with your midwife or GP and they will help you to check your technique.