Pregnancy: What is Perineal Massage?

My best friend told me that perineal massage helped her avoid an episiotomy. What is perineal massage and is it effective?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Perineal massage is recommended for women who wish to try to prevent the use of an episiotomy with their birth.

Controlled studies have been done showing perineal massage to be effective (May/June 1986, Journal of Nurse-Midwifery).

The technique involves the use of some water soluble lubricant, such as olive oil, K-Y jelly, vitamin E oil or glycerine to massage and gentle stretching of the perineal tissue -- between the vaginal opening and the anus.

Regular massage is recommended, starting at around 30 weeks. It can be done twice a day, either by the woman or her partner.

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