How massaging your lady bits can stop you tearing down there in childbirth

by pregnancy journalist

IT’S one of those things that women are desperate to avoid during childbirth.

But the reality is that most will suffer a tear “down there” while pushing your little bundle of joy out.

Imagine giving birth and midwives yelling at you to "push, push harder" might creep into your mind. But a new approach encourages mums to do the opposite
Imagine giving birth and midwives yelling at you to “push, push harder” might creep into your mind. But a new approach encourages mums to do the opposite
Getty Images

In fact, experts say that nine out of 10 women will experience a tear, graze or episiotomy during their first vaginal birth.

Most tears heal within six weeks without any long term problems.

However, around six per cent of first-time mums will have a deeper tear involving the anal sphincter muscle, also known as a third or fourth degree tear.

It also affects two in 100 women who have had a previous vaginal birth.

But there is something that women can try out to prevent tearing and manage their recovery if they do experience it.

Experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists say that massaging the perineum – the skin between the vagina and anus – can help.

What is perineal massage?

From 35 weeks onwards, daily perineal massage until the baby is born may reduce your risk of tearing.

Dr Ranee Thakar, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “It is common for tearing to occur between the vagina and anus to some extent during childbirth.

“This is because the baby stretches the vagina during birth.

“To reduce a woman’s risk of tearing during birth, she and her partner are encouraged to apply daily perineal massage until the baby is born.

“This is particularly beneficial for women giving birth vaginally for the first time.

“Up to nine in every 10 women having a vaginal birth for the first time will experience some sort of tear, graze or episiotomy.

“It is slightly less common for mothers who have had a vaginal birth before.

“For most women, these tears are minor and heal quickly on their own or may require stitches.

“For a small group of women, deep tears, known as third- or fourth- degree tears, or obstetric anal sphincter injuries (OASI), may need to be repaired by surgery.”

How to do it

There are seven simple steps when it comes to perineal massage.

It can be done yourself or you can ask your partner to help.

Dr Thakar talks us through how to do it…

1. Run a warm bath

A warm bath before applying the massage may help to relax the muscles around the perineum.

2. Find a comfortable position

It is important to be as relaxed as possible, so we recommend finding a comfortable and stable position, usually in bed, or on the floor.

3. Make sure nails are cut short

It is best if nails are clipped short to reduce any scratching on the skin, because the area in and around the vagina and perineum are very delicate.

4. Use a lubricant

“A lubricant, such as vitamin E oil, almond oil or olive oil, can be applied to the fingers, which can then be inserted in to the vagina.

5. Press gently

The massage should involve pressing gently down towards the anus and the sides of the vagina walls with the thumbs.

By holding down for around one minute, a stretching sensation should be felt.

Gently massage the lower half of the vagina using a U shaped movement for around 2-3 minutes, and repeat this 2-3 times.

6. Repeat daily

Repeat daily, or whenever possible. It may take a couple of weeks of daily massage before more elasticity is felt in the perineal area.

Dr Thakar added: “If a woman has any concerns, or would like to be shown how to do this, she can speak to her GP, midwife or obstetrician.”

When to start doing it?

Perineal massaging is recommended from 35 weeks of pregnancy.

It’s especially important for first-time mums because 90 per cent of women having a vaginal birth for the first time will experience some sort of tear, graze or episiotomy.

But it’s also recommended for every pregnancy after that too.

Dr Thakar added: “A review published found that perineal massage reduces the likelihood of trauma to the perineal area, especially for first time mothers.”

“But women can apply perineal massaging from 35 weeks regardless of whether it is her first pregnancy or not.”

What other ways can women reduce the risk of tearing?

If perineal massage isn’t for you then there are some other techniques you can try.

Dr Thakar said: “A warm compress can be applied on the perineum during birth, while the baby’s head stretches the perineal tissues, which can also help to reduce the severity of tearing.

“A healthcare professional can support the perineum as the baby is being born.

PAIN RELIEF


How massaging your lady bits can stop you tearing down there in childbirth

LABOUR OF LOVE


I can’t feel my vagina or bear sex & have privates of an OAP after labour

BILLION CHANCE BABY


Mum gives birth to ‘miracle’ baby who grew OUTSIDE womb – in her tummy

BORN HAPPY


Newborn baby smiles at her dad after he spent months speaking to her in the womb

PUSH POWER


Free birthing mum-of-eight has twins in her living room with no pain relief

WARD HORROR


Midwife recalls shock when ‘virgin’ dumped dead baby in Tesco bag at hospital

OH BOY


I got pregnant despite having the coil and it broke my heart

BIRTH MARK


Baby has scar on face after surgeons accidentally cut her during caesarean birth

SAVING TOTS


Hormone therapy for women at risk of miscarriage could save 8,500 babies a year

PINT OF NO RETURN


Women who booze during pregnancy have less intelligent kids, experts find


“This is called manual perineal protection, or a ‘hands on birth’.

“If a woman is concerned about tears, or has any questions about how to reduce her risk of tearing during birth, we recommend she speaks to her midwife, GP, or obstetrician.”

For further information visit the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists website.

This content was originally published here.

Share this article

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *