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The perineum is that part of your skin between your vagina and rectum. As you can no doubt visualize, this area of skin and muscles stretches a lot during childbirth. Tearing during birth is not all that uncommon, although it certainly does not happen to every woman. Some say that massaging the perineum to soften it in the weeks before your due date can prevent tearing. Well, does it?

There are quite a few obstetricians and midwives who practice perineal counter pressure and massage during birth. Various studies into this practice have found either no benefit or a small amount of benefit of this, meaning that perineal counter pressure and massage during labor either decreased the chances of vaginal tearing slightly, or not at all. I've looked around to see if I could find any information about massaging the perineum in the weeks before birth is expected. Proponents say that it stretches and relaxes the skin, and that it is a great preparation for birth. But there is even less evidence that perineal massage during pregnancy, in other words prenatal perineal massage, improves its chances of staying intact during childbirth.

Of course, no harm would be done if you want to give massaging the perineum a go anyway. If you are curious and think it might do some good why not? Let us know whether you tore after birth and what your impression were - we would love to hear! I think this is one aspect of childbirth preparation I would rather say no to. Perineal massage sounds like a rather unpleasant experience, and when you are pregnant and want to massage yourself it might even be difficult to reach the perineum at all! What do you think? Have you tried perineal massage? What do you think about this practice? Also see, what should you pack in your hospital bag for labor and birth?

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