Somewhere around the third trimester mark, your brain transitions from “all pregnancy all the time” to “birth.” You suddenly realize there’s more to pregnancy than being pregnant, and that there’s actually a baby that has to come out. Someone--your doctor, your mom, your BFF--might use the word “tear” or maybe even “rip.” And you’ll ask, “Down there?” Yes. For real. Baby is big and your vagina is small, and, well… Tearing. Can. Happen. At one time, doctors made an incision in the perineum, which is the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus, before baby arrived, but most experts say this procedure--an episiotomy--does not necessarily help with tearing. It can also come with a painful recovery, infection and even pain during sex or fecal incontinence. But, there are ways to prepare your perineum for the action it’s about to see. And good news: it’s called a massage! Yes, down there. Our friends at Weleda in Europe even make a special oil for it! (We’re giving away 6 bottles that are only available in Europe! Read on to find out how to win!) We recently spoke with Weleda midwife Christina Henderlich on the benefits and the proper method for perineum massage, and she also gave us a perineum oil DIY. Get ready. Why is this massage important during pregnancy? The perineum is especially stressed when giving birth. Most women wish to give birth without an episiotomy, and a perineum massage can help. Regular massage prepares the perineum tissue by helping it become more elastic. Furthermore, getting to know your perineum, the body part through which babies are born, is very important. A woman who has never explored her vulva with her hands is likely to face problems when pushing her baby out of her body in the last phase of birth. By regularly observing her vulva, and hence the perineum, a woman can develop a good feeling towards her body and come to know it better. When during pregnancy should you start regular perineum massage, how often do you do it? From the 34th week of pregnancy, 3 to 4 times a week, for 5 to 10 minutes. How do you do it? Preparation: Before starting the massage, we recommend a careful intimate wash and cleaning hands and nails thoroughly with soap and water. Perineum massage is ideally done after a warm bath, because the tissue is much more supple. When massaging, make sure the perineum can be reached comfortably: it's ideal if you are in a lying or squat position or standing with one leg in the air. During the massage, quietly breathe in and out and try to relax your pelvis. Loosening massage: Take a small amount of Weleda Perineum Massage Oil and warm it up in your hands. Apply the oil with your fingertips in small circles along the outer labia and then between your vagina and anus. Lead your thumb tip into the vagina. With your fingers, massage the inner and outer perineal area on an imaginary dial between 3 and 9 o`clock (Picture no. 1), firstly using circular movements, then with greater pressure for about 1 minute in swaying movements (Picture no. 2). Stretching massage: Put your whole thumb into the vagina and stretch the tissue towards the anus when breathing out. Repeat in a radial direction (Picture no. 3). As a second exercise, you can bulge the perineum with your thumbs down and outward. (Picture no. 4). Repeat also this stretching on an imaginary dial between 3 and 9 o`clock. You will feel a pull and a resistance to the stretching, which should not be painful. If you don’t have access to Weleda Perineum Massage Oil, is there an oil or blend that you could mix at home to use during the massage? Try wheat germ oil plus essential oils. Use approximately 20 ml wheat germ oil, and dilute a drop of Muscatella Salbai and rose. Want to win a bottle of Weleda Perineum Massage Oil? It’s only sold in Europe but we’ve got 10 bottles stashed just for WRNY readers! Go ahead and enter below. Image source.
By this point, you can probably roll with whatever parenthood throws your way—whether that's changing diapers, powering through a long day after a sleepless night, or soothing a sick little one. Learning on the job like this isn't always easy, but we bet your teeny boss is giving you a winning performance review.
Around the 5-month mark, your baby is probably doing some rolling of their own, too! At this point, your baby is endlessly curious and naturally grabby, so make sure you're giving them a safe place to explore while you cheer them on from the sidelines.
Of course, cheerleading is just one of the many, many roles you play throughout the day. Your multitasking skills are pushed to the limit, but it's important to carve out time for yourself. And hopefully everyone in your house is now enjoying longer stretches of sleep, with the dreaded 4-month sleep regression a thing of the past.
As is always the case with parenthood, new challenges are around the corner. The good news? These products can get you prepared for them.
For some much-needed teething relief: Sophie la Girafe teether
Ouch. Teething isn't fun for babies—or their mamas. Luckily, teething toys do help provide relief for those tender gums. Build your supply so that something to chew on is always clean and handy.
For checking out that cute little baby: Baby Einstein floor mirror
You aren't the only one who can't take your eyes off your little cutie. Babies love checking themselves out, too! Mirror play allows your baby to study facial expressions, learn about interactions and begin to recognize their own reflection.
For banishing cradle cap: Fridababy cradle cap system
If your baby's scalp is looking a little reptilian, rest assured that cradle cap is a common issue. Thankfully, it's also conquerable with an easy three-step method to lather, loosen and lift away the flakes.
For organizing all the toys: Pillowfort stackable storage bins
It's amazing how quickly toys and gear can amass in your home! A collection of stylish storage bins makes "out of sight, out of mind" possible at the end of the day.
For safe sleep: Graco pack-n-play
Experts advise always putting your baby to sleep on a flat, firm surface. So, if your baby is getting snoozy when you aren't by the crib, a pack-n-play is a great, portal option. As a bonus, the space can pull double-duty as a playard when your baby is awake.
For skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom: Honest Beauty face cream
What about a little something for you, mama? Since your time is a precious commodity, having good skin can help streamline your getting ready routine. A good face cream does the miracle work of making your skin appear vibrant—even if you were up with a baby throughout the night.
A simple way to show off your pictures: Polaroid digital photo frame
There's no excuse to let your favorite photos languish on your phone's camera roll! A digital photo frame makes it so simple to see your favorite memories with baby over and over again.
For reclaiming your car: Brica trunk organizer and changing station
Your car is probably filling up with quite the assortment of baby gear. Rather than sacrifice your passenger seat to a stockpile of wipes and diapers, clear the clutter with a trunk organizer.
The hands-free assistant you always needed: Lenovo smart clock
The mental load of motherhood is real and we'll take all the backup we can get. Enter: this smart clock. Seriously, there is no going back after you discover all this incredible multitasker can do, like help you manage your schedule, check the weather and manage all your smart devices.
For keeping coffee hot: Ello Jane travel mug
If peacefully sitting and drinking your morning coffee feels like a distant memory, you can lessen the sting with a lidded mug that keeps your drink hot until you are actually able to take a sip. Mom win!
This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.
Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.
Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.