Ranting about the Perineal Massage

Warning: this post may contain TMI (too much information) for some of you... Continue reading at your own risks.

We all heard stories about this pregnant woman who gave birth and had a partial or complete tear of her perineum in the process. As a first time mom, I was naive enough to convince myself it only happens to others and must be quite the minority who experience a tear during labor.

Boy was I wrong!

A study conducted in 1999 showed that only 63 out of 417 women who were giving birth vaginally for the first time maintained an intact perineum throughout labor. That's only 15,1% !!!

I'm officially freaking out about these stats. Fortunately, the subject of the study was to demonstrate the efficiency (or lack thereof) of practicing the perineal massage for 10 minutes on a daily basis from the 35th week of pregnancy until birth. A group of 411 women were asked to do that routine and from that group, 100 women kept an intact perineum post-partum. That's 24.3% - still low, in my honest opinion, but an appreciable 9% improvement rate compared with women who did not use the massage!

So... Wanting make use of all the tools I can, I decided I would try to improve the odds by submitting myself to the very same routine. The technique was shown to the dads-to-be at our last prenatal class and we got started on what seemed like a very promising activity...

I won't lie, it's unconfortable and it burns. But I'll take "unconfortable and it burns" a little bit everyday, if it spares me the major tear and bleed and complications that follow birth. Overall, it's a very small inconvenience for what it's worth.

My only problem now is: DF is away for the week so I need to adapt and do it on my own. I've tried but couldn't find a position that made it possible yet. I'm not so flexible anymore and the positions and angles that I can use to get access there are very limited. Not to mention I don't see what I'm doing.

If you are a business driven entrepreneur looking for a good idea to develop, I think you should look into making some kind of a self massager for the perineum. I'm sure I'm not the only one finding it challenging if not impossible to perform the massage on my own with the big belly in the way and I was very surprised to find out nobody has yet come up with a device that would help single pregnant women do just that!

It could be as simple as a soft balloon that could be pumped bigger gradually once in place, to help stretch that sensitive skin progressively. A meter could indicate the level of pumping used each time so that the mother would see her progress from one day to the next.

Food for thought?


Kim said...

a German physician already created exactly what you were describing - it is called the EPI-NO - short for no episiotomy - check out www.pelvicfloorwellness.com

the bonus is that it strengthens the pelvic floor as well thereby preventing post partum incontinence...it is amazing!

Cynthia said...

That's so awesome Kim, thanks for letting me know - I found the website and they have a distributor in Canada. I might very well give this a shot, it sounds very promising :)

Kim said...

actually I am the distributor - that's me on the site and it is my story - email me or call and let's chat - this product is amazing! There is actually a study using the EPI-NO happening in Quebec - I'm happy to have a Canadian study going on...
my passion has been to bring awareness to moms and moms to be about pelvic floor wellness and diastasis recti prevention and repair - this is the stuff that the rest of the birth world doesn't talk about and it is SOOO important!

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