What is the perineum?⁠⁠

Your perineum is the space between your vagina and anus. This area gets significantly stretched with a vaginal birth and is where you can generally tear. ⁠⁠

Why do you massage the perineum?⁠

We have evidence to show that by massaging and stretching the perineal muscles, you can reduce your risk of perineal tears by 9%. This doesn’t sound like much but I don’t know about you but I want to do errrrrrrything I can to minimise my risk of tearing my vagina thank you very much. ⁠⁠

When do you start doing this?⁠⁠

It is recommended to begin this around 35-36 weeks gestation. This is when I recommend my patients to come back and see me so I can show you how to do it. We also go through pelvic floor down-training so encourage the pelvic floor muscles to relax to prepare you for labour and birth. ⁠⁠

How do you do it?⁠ ⁠

  • Wash your hands thoroughly ⁠
  • Apply lubricant on your fingers ⁠
  • Insert 1 finger or your thumb into the vagina about 2-3cm⁠
  • Start by pressing your finger outward against the wall (at 3 o’clock) and sweep your finger down to the back passage, applying pressure the whole way through⁠
  • Press your finger outward against the opposite wall (9 o’clock) and sweep down towards the back passage, again applying pressure⁠
  • Continue sweeping in a ‘U’ shape side to side for 5-10 mins per day.⁠

This will feel a little uncomfortable because you are literally stretching the muscles and the skin. But also work within the range that you can handle and always be guided by your WH physio. ⁠

Your partner can get involved and help out as well as this can be a little tricky when you’re so far along in your pregnancy.⁠

I always recommend seeing a Women’s Health Physio before trying this at home so we can educate you how to do it to suit your body. ⁠⁠

Disclaimer: This is general information only, ONLY do this if you have been cleared to do so by your Physiotherapist.

Sarah Anderson BExSc, DPT (Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist)