Us women would all be lying if we said we were not worried about vaginal tears and or an episiotomy. Interestingly the New York Times recently published an article “Massaging away a potential complication of Birth?” which here at the UBA we found interesting. Have you perhaps considered perineal massage during your pregnancy? Do you know what it is? Maybe you have never even heard of it. Below are some extracts take form the article written by Jen Gunter…
Perineal massage is the practice of inserting one or two lubricated fingers about two inches into the vagina and applying pressure on the pelvic muscles and tissues for 10 minutes once or twice a week starting at 34 — 35 weeks of pregnancy. The massage can be done by the pregnant person or her partner.
For a first pregnancy, perineal massage has a modest and definitely measurable impact on reducing the need for stitches (either from tearing or an episiotomy). This translates to reducing the need for stitches by approximately 10 percent and the need for episiotomy by approximately 15 percent. In subsequent pregnancies there does not appear to be an effect of perineal massage on tearing or episiotomies, but there may be a reduction in pain after delivery.
Once you are in labor and are fully dilated perineal massage and warm compresses appear to reduce the severity of the tear, but not the overall risk of experiencing tearing or needing an episiotomy.
Reducing the severity of tearing during a delivery is an important goal. Women who have larger tears that affect the anal sphincter (muscles that control continence of gas and stool) can suffer greatly often for years after giving birth. So while statistically speaking the absolute reduction in tears and the need for an episiotomy from perineal massage both before and during delivery may not seem large, all efforts to reduce anal sphincter tears are important and valuable.
The midwives in our team are keen to talk about this further with you as it is definitely something to consider during your pregnancy. A perineal massage discussion will be included in our antenatal classes and we look forward to answering any questions you may have. Don’t be embarrassed, vaginas and the rest –(call it what you will vag/fanny/foof/lady garden/down below/front bum etc) – are our thing …. Which brings us nicely onto Gwyneth Paltrow who, despite launching her latest range of ‘interesting’ products, seems to think one word (vagina) covers all. “What” I hear you say? Don’t worry , we’ve got that covered too!
The Underwood Baby Academy xxx
Article taken from and with thanks to The New York Times, by Jen Gunter. Image taken from https://slowmotherhood.ca/perineal-massage/.