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The perineal massage tools you need to know about before giving birth

As your due date gets ever closer, the list of things to do seems to grow and grow. There’s the hospital bag packing, meal prep, hypnobirthing, the list goes on and on. However, a key piece of prep that we strongly advise you not to skip is perineal massage. Whilst it sounds like a lot of effort, perineal massage – and the tools you use – can make a big difference to your birth recovery. Here’s everything you need to know…

What is perineal massage?

Before we get into what tools can help , let’s briefly touch on what perineal massage is. Perineal massage involves gently stretching the perineum—the area between the vagina and anus—to increase its flexibility and reduce the risk of tearing during vaginal birth.

How effective is it?

The aim of perineal massage is to prepare the perineal tissues for childbirth. Research shows that women who perform perineal massage prior to giving birth reduce the risk of having an episiotomy (cut) and the risk of perineal pain following birth.

When should I start perineal massage?

It’s typically recommended to start around 34 weeks of pregnancy. If you’re already much closer to your due date and only just heard of perineal massage, it’s definitely not too late. Any stretching prep you can do before giving birth is always better than none.

How often do I need to do it?

The gold standard of preparation is around 3-4 times a week for around 5 minutes each time. However, that may not be realistic for everyone so any amount you can do will still have benefits. In short, something is better than nothing.

The perineal massage tools to know about

For a long time it was suggested to pregnant women that they should use their fingers or thumbs to perform perineal massage, or ask their partner to do it for them (sorry, but ew). Whilst fingers and thumbs are still a great option (more on that below) it can be tricky to navigate when there is a massive bump in the way. So the birth of some new tools (pun very much intended) are definitely worth considering to help get you stretching down there.

1. Perimom Perineal Massager, £40.99

The Perimom Perineal Massager is a specially designed tool to assist with perineal massage. Its ergonomic shape and soft material are specifically designed to make perineal massage easier when the bump is well and truly in the way.

  1. Position: Find a comfortable position, such as sitting up with knees bent or standing with one leg elevated. Propping a foot up on side of the bath or toilet can also help you get in position.
  2. Insertion: Insert the device into the vaginal opening, about 1-2 inches deep. Gently pull the device outward and downward to stretch the perineal tissues.
  3. Duration: Hold the stretch for a few minutes, then release and repeat. Gradually increase the duration and intensity over time.

“The Perimon is THE best companion for your birth prep. It’s unique handle is designed to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand to allow for an effortless, easy to reach massage.”

Ferne McCann

2. Frida Mom, Prepare to push perineal massage wand, £29.99

This wand is similar to the Perimom but with a few key differences. It’s been designed with an OBGYN and is a little big longer in length, which is very useful when trying to navigate around a bump. The team of FridaMom have also ensured that it’s 100% silicone so it glides more easily and have included a mirror so you can see what you’re doing.

3. Epi-No, childbirth and pelvic floor training device, £99.99

The Epi-No is a unique device designed to prepare the perineum and pelvic floor for childbirth. It consists of a small, inflatable balloon and a pressure gauge, allowing for controlled stretching of the perineal area.

  1. Insertion: You slowly insert the deflated balloon into the vagina. Top tip: use a water based lubricant.
  2. Inflation: Once in place, you gradually squeeze the pressure gauge to slowly inflate the balloon and gently stretch the vagina and perineum.
  3. Control: The pressure gauge helps you manage the stretching process at a rate that’s comfortable for you. The idea is to start off slowly and gradually build your tolerance up.

“I didn’t get a single stitch. I used this little balloon blow-up thingy. Epi-no for anyone who wants to know. I used it for all three kids. My doctor told me to use it and it gets you ready for labour.”

Vogue Williams on My Therapist Ghosted Me

4. Fingers: The Natural Approach

If you want to save your money or you’re just not that keen on inserting things into your vagina (we get it!) then fingers or thumbs can still do the job just as well with a bit of practice and patience. Here’s a quick how to…

  1. Preparation: Wash your hands thoroughly and trim your nails to avoid any discomfort.
  2. Lubrication: Apply a generous amount of perineal massage oil to your fingers.
  3. Positioning: Find a comfortable position—sitting, reclining, or standing with one leg raised.
  4. Massage: Insert your thumbs (or index fingers) about 1-1.5 inches into the vagina and press downwards towards the anus. Stretch the tissues gently by moving your fingers in a U-shaped motion.

Massage oil is essential

Perineal massage oil is specially formulated to lubricate and soften the perineal tissues, making the massage more comfortable and effective. It’s an absolute must if you want the experience to comfortable and get the best out of your stretch.

When deciding on an oil, look out for fragrance-free, water-based options. Oils like almond, coconut or Vitamin E are all excellent choices to help reduce friction and keep the skin supple. These are our top faves:

Creating a routine

We’ll be honest, perineal massage is less massage and more stretching. It can feel quite uncomfortable at times so in order to get the most out of it, it’s important to make sure you do it in a way that’s as relaxing as possible.

Pick a time when you’re not in a rush and can have some privacy. Having a warm bath beforehand can help soften the tissues and generally make you feel more at ease, especially if you pop in some Epsom salts too. When do you come to start the massage, set yourself up in a quiet, calm space with plenty of cushions for support. Lie a towel down and have some tissues around too as things can get messy once you add in the oil. It’s a great time to pop on your birth playlist and practice your labour breathing by taking some deep, slow breaths.

Start slowly and take your time. The most important thing is to tune in and listen to your body. It should never be painful but a bit of discomfort is okay. If you experience anything painful, stop and try again later or speak with your midwife.

Sources

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23633325
  2. https://www.wsh.nhs.uk/CMS-Documents/Patient-leaflets/Maternity/6614-1-Perineal-massage.pdf

Birthbabe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. the resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. you should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options.

Birthbabe is supported by the beautiful babes who enjoy our content. We only recommend products used and approved by mamas, however we may receive an affiliate commission.​

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