Protecting the perineum during pregnancy
The perineum is the area of skin between the vagina and the anus that is required to stretch during childbirth. 70% of women will experience a perineal tear but there are some ways to help reduce them.
Preparing for a vaginal birth
- Antenatal perineal massage staring at 32 weeks gestation has shown to reduce the possibility of perineal trauma and ongoing perineal pain after birth
- Targeting areas of aches and pains in order to comfortably practise optimal birthing positions e.g deep squat or on all 4s
- Commencing pelvic floor muscle training as soon as possible in pregnancy and continuing throughout. Contrary to popular belief, a higher tone pelvic floor muscle does not increase the chance of tearing and also reduces the likelihood of postnatal urinary incontinence.
To prevent perineal trauma in labour and birth there is evidence in favour of
- Warm compress
- Perineal massage
- Positions such as kneeling or all 4s
In the first 3 days after birth remember to protect the perineum via the following: elevation by lying with pillows under hips, avoiding anti-inflammatories, and using compression if comfortable. Gentle exercise like pelvic floor squeezes and walking can help with recovery.
Our women's health physiotherapist Georgina can help guide you through this process. Visit our website and book your initial women's health assessment today.