No pregnant woman vaginal tears or other damage to the genital area. Doctors often "resolve" this issue by cutting an episiotomy. This surgical incision can best be described as an artificial tear as such, it is hardly a pleasing way to avoid vaginal tearing during birth to many women, especially given the fact that episiotomies do not actually prevent further natural tearing either. What can you do to prevent tearing? Is perineal massage an option?
Perineal massage involves massaging the perineum, the area between the vagina and the anus. The vagina can be included in the massage, and oils of lubricants are typically used as well. Perineal massage to prevent vaginal tearing comes in two basic forms preparatory massage during pregnancy (from about 34 weeks) to stretch the relevant tissues, and massage or counterpressure during labor and the actual emergence of the baby.
Some studies indicate that perineal massage does, indeed, help prevent vaginal tears during childbirth. Some advocates of the practice also note that perineal massage could prepare women for the sensations felt during birth and take some of the fear of the unknown away. That makes a little sense, doesn't it?
Midwives who advocate natural childbirth, and birth doulas, are often those who also recommend perineal massage. They would often be the ones able to administer perineal massage or perineal counterpressure during your actual birth as well. The preparatory massage is something you can do at home, or have your partner do. Herbal baths may be used, as well as hot water compresses.
Does perineal massage sound like something that may relax you, and like something you could embrace as part of your birth? Then give it a try. Some of us would rather not be touched during childbirth though. If you ask me, I prefer to tear. By the way, the best way to avoid an episiotomy still remains just saying no to one, not doing perineal massage.