Perineal preparation is very similar to perineal massage, but it has a slightly different focus and technique.
While perineal massage focuses solely on stretching, perineal preparedness helps you learn how to relax into the natural opening of the vagina during childbirth and how to become accustomed to these sensations.
As the day of your baby’s birth approaches, your perineal tissues will naturally become softer. For this reason, some practitioners do not believe that “stretching” is necessary. However, the sensation of opening is new to many first-time mothers. Learning to relax into these feelings will reduce your risk for perineal trauma and has even been shown to decrease the incidence of postpartum discomfort for women who have had multiple births.*
Miracle Physical Therapy recommends that women begin this preparation around week 34 of pregnancy, and perform it as regularly as possible. We offer 30 minute perineal wellness consultations encompassing both education surrounding labor and birthing positions and a hands-on preparation session. We are happy to teach women how to perform this technique themselves, and we often do hands-on training with partners. If you are not able to continue the preparation at home, we recommend that you find a midwife or pelvic physical therapist skilled in these techniques to assist or perform them for you. Our perineal preparation sessions are 15 minutes long, and many women find it helpful to set aside time once or twice per week to come in for these services in their last weeks of pregnancy.
*Beckman MM, Stock OM. Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jan 25;(1): CD005123, Update 2013 April.