Somewhere around the third trimester mark, your brain transitions from “all pregnancy all the time” to “birth.” You suddenly realize there’s more to pregnancy than being pregnant, and that there’s actually a baby that has to come out. Someone–your doctor, your mom, your BFF–might use the word “tear” or maybe even “rip.” And you’ll ask, “Down there?” Yes. For real. Baby is big and your vagina is small, and, well… Tearing. Can. Happen.
At one time, doctors made an incision in the perineum, which is the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus, before baby arrived, but most experts say this procedure–an episiotomy–does not necessarily help with tearing. It can also come with a painful recovery, infection and even pain during sex or fecal incontinence.
But, there are ways to prepare your perineum for the action it’s about to see. And good news: it’s called a massage! Yes, down there. Our friends at Weleda in Europe even make a special oil for it! (We’re giving away 6 bottles that are only available in Europe! Read on to find out how to win!)
We recently spoke with Weleda midwife Christina Henderlich on the benefits and the proper method for perineum massage, and she also gave us a perineum oil DIY. Get ready.
Why is this massage important during pregnancy?
The perineum is especially stressed when giving birth. Most women wish to give birth without an episiotomy, and a perineum massage can help. Regular massage prepares the perineum tissue by helping it become more elastic.
Furthermore, getting to know your perineum, the body part through which babies are born, is very important. A woman who has never explored her vulva with her hands is likely to face problems when pushing her baby out of her body in the last phase of birth. By regularly observing her vulva, and hence the perineum, a woman can develop a good feeling towards her body and come to know it better.
When during pregnancy should you start regular perineum massage, how often do you do it?
From the 34th week of pregnancy, 3 to 4 times a week, for 5 to 10 minutes.
How do you do it?
Preparation: Before starting the massage, we recommend a careful intimate wash and cleaning hands and nails thoroughly with soap and water. Perineum massage is ideally done after a warm bath, because the tissue is much more supple. When massaging, make sure the perineum can be reached comfortably: it’s ideal if you are in a lying or squat position or standing with one leg in the air. During the massage, quietly breathe in and out and try to relax your pelvis.
Loosening massage: Take a small amount of Weleda Perineum Massage Oil and warm it up in your hands. Apply the oil with your fingertips in small circles along the outer labia and then between your vagina and anus. Lead your thumb tip into the vagina. With your fingers, massage the inner and outer perineal area on an imaginary dial between 3 and 9 o`clock (Picture no. 1), firstly using circular movements, then with greater pressure for about 1 minute in swaying movements (Picture no. 2).
Stretching massage: Put your whole thumb into the vagina and stretch the tissue towards the anus when breathing out. Repeat in a radial direction (Picture no. 3). As a second exercise, you can bulge the perineum with your thumbs down and outward. (Picture no. 4). Repeat also this stretching on an imaginary dial between 3 and 9 o`clock. You will feel a pull and a resistance to the stretching, which should not be painful.
If you don’t have access to Weleda Perineum Massage Oil, is there an oil or blend that you could mix at home to use during the massage?
Try wheat germ oil plus essential oils. Use approximately 20 ml wheat germ oil, and dilute a drop of Muscatella Salbai and rose.
Want to win a bottle of Weleda Perineum Massage Oil? It’s only sold in Europe but we’ve got 10 bottles stashed just for WRNY readers! Go ahead and enter below.