Perineal massage is a technique often used to prepare a pregnant woman for childbirth by reducing the risk of tearing during labor. It involves gently stretching and massaging the perineal area (the area between the vagina and anus) to increase its elasticity. The process is usually started a few weeks before the expected due date.

Key Takeaways

  1. Perineal massage is a technique often used in prenatal care, usually from 34 weeks of pregnancy, designed to facilitate elasticity and flexibility of the perineum – the tissue that surrounds the birth canal.
  2. It helps in reducing the likelihood of perineal tears and the necessity of an episiotomy during childbirth. This is especially beneficial for pregnant women in their first vaginal birth experience.
  3. The practice involves using oil or a lubricant and applying a gentle massage to stretch this region and effectively preparing it for childbirth. The overall goal is to increase the ease of baby’s passage through the birth canal, reducing pain and discomfort during labor.


Perineal massage is a significant term in motherhood as it refers to a technique used primarily in preparation for childbirth, particularly aimed at reducing the risk of trauma to the perineal area (the area between the vagina and the anus). It involves gently stretching and massaging the skin and muscles around the vagina during the last few weeks of pregnancy, to increase their ability to stretch during childbirth.

Evidence suggests that regular perineal massage can reduce the likelihood of perineal tearing, the need for an episiotomy, and postpartum discomfort.

Hence, understanding this term and its application can make a substantial difference to a woman’s childbirth experience.


Perineal massage is a technique often employed by expecting mothers during the final weeks of their pregnancy. Serving a dual purpose, the primary aim of this exercise is to increase elasticity and reduce the risk of trauma in the perineal area during childbirth.

The perineal area, which is the tissue that lies between the vaginal opening and the anus, often experiences extreme stretching during a vaginal birth. By gently massaging and stretching this region before the actual delivery, mothers can potentially make the process easier and minimize their risk of damage.

Secondly, perineal massage is also thought to mentally prepare women for the sensation of pressure during the final stages of delivery. It serves as a gentle introduction to the feelings that may be experienced as the baby descends.

Although it isn’t guaranteed to completely prevent tearing or the need for an episiotomy (a surgical cut made at the time of childbirth), practicing perineal massage may improve outcomes for some women, making their transition into motherhood slightly more comfortable. In essence, the technique serves as a preparatory and protective step in anticipation of childbirth.

Examples of Perineal massage

Expectant Mother: Throughout her pregnancy, an expectant mother might start preparing for childbirth using a method called perineal massage. She, along with her partner or a professional, may gently massage the area between the vagina and anus (perineum) to prevent tearing during delivery. In doing so, she could potentially decrease her need for an episiotomy or stitches during labor.

Postpartum Recovery: A new mom recovering from childbirth, under the guidance of her health care professional, could use perineal massage as part of her postpartum healing routine. By carefully massaging her perineum, she might help alleviate discomfort, promote blood circulation, and help her body heal naturally from the strains of delivery.

Maternity Classes: In prenatal workshops and maternity classes, midwives and childbirth educators often teach the technique of perineal massage to expecting parents. They’ll demonstrate the process and emphasize its potential benefits, such as reducing birth complications and promoting elasticity, enabling the prospective mothers and their partners to practice and prepare for the delivery.

Frequently Asked Questions about Perineal Massage

What is a Perineal Massage?

Perineal massage is a technique that involves gently stretching and massaging the perineum, which is the area between the vagina and the rectum. The goal is to prepare the area for childbirth and reduce the risk of trauma during delivery.

How Do You Perform a Perineal Massage?

To perform perineal massage, you or your partner can use a lubricant to gently stretch and massage the area. It can be done in a comfortable position, for example, lying down with your legs apart. You should apply gentle pressure and slowly stretch the area until a slight burning sensation is felt. This is usually done for around 5-10 minutes daily starting from 34 weeks of pregnancy.

What are the Benefits of Perineal Massage?

Perineal massage may help to prepare your body for childbirth by enhancing its flexibility. It can also potentially reduce the risk of tearing during childbirth and could decrease the likelihood of needing an episiotomy (a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth) or stitches. However, research is ongoing and some studies show mixed results.

Are There Any Risks or Disadvantages to Perineal Massage?

Most people can safely perform perineal massages without any problems. However, if you feel pain or discomfort beyond a slight burning sensation, you should stop and talk with your healthcare provider. Also, it’s not recommended to do perineal massage if you have an active vaginal infection or herpes lesions.

Should You Do Perineal Massage Without Assistance?

While it’s possible to do perineal massage by yourself, some people may find it difficult to reach or apply enough pressure, especially later in pregnancy. You can ask a partner to help. Just make sure that their hands are clean, their nails are trimmed, and they are doing it gently and correctly.

Related Motherhood Terms

  • Perineum
  • Pregnancy exercises
  • Childbirth preparation
  • Pain relief during labor
  • Birthing techniques

Sources for More Information