Baby’s Due ! Are You Prepared Down There?

perineal_message

You may be preoccupied with ensuring the nursery is ready for baby’s arrival, but while you’re preparing your home for its new resident, don’t forget to prepare your body for birth.

By now, your birth plan is set and your bag is packed. All that’s left is to wait it out until your little bundle decides that today is the day to meet the world. But, you should also think about starting to do perineal massage about four to six weeks before your due date.

WHAT IS PERINEAL MASSAGE?
Massaging your perineum, the area between your vagina and anus – can be highly beneficial, as it increases the area’s ability to stretch, thereby decreasing the need for an episiotomy and the possibility of tearing when you give birth.

THE BENEFITS
Perineal massage can be very beneficial. The elasticity of the tissues surrounding the vaginal area differ with each individual and has a bearing on whether or not an episiotomy needs to be done and may help prevent tears during labour. The massage helps to prepare the perineum to stretch adequately during the birth.

A stronger, more flexible perineum means less strain on baby’s head during delivery and you’ll be more accustomed to the stinging or tingling that happens as your baby crowns. Best of all, with less tearing and strain on the perineum and a stronger pelvic area to help you through the tough task of labour, you’ll heal more quickly after the birth.

HOW TO DO IT
You might feel a bit uncomfortable performing perineal massage on yourself, but your doula or birth partner can assist you if required. We’ve put together this short guide on how to perform perineal massage:

  1. Make sure your hands are clean, nails clipped short and, if you have rough skin on your fingers, rather wear disposable rubber gloves.
  2. Lubricate your fingers well with wheat germ, vegetable oil or water-soluble gel.
  3. Do not use baby oil, olive oil, mineral oil or petroleum jelly, as these tend to dry the skin tissue out, while vegetable oils are better absorbed.
  4. To avoid contaminating the oil, do not dip your fingers in to the oil, but rather squirt it onto your fingers. Rub enough oil or jelly into the perineum to allow your fingers to move smoothly over the tissue and lower vagina wall.
  5. You may also find it useful to use a mirror to help guide you, feel free to if you need!
  6. Hook your thumbs, start with one if you need to – into your vagina. Gently rotate your index fingers in opposite directions upward along the sides and lower border of the vagina. Do this for approximately three minutes, and concentrate on your breathing to alleviate any tension you may be
    feeling.
  7. Don’t worry, many women find it uncomfortable at first, but stick with it and you’ll soon be an expert. This part of the massage helps to stretch the vaginal tissue, vaginal muscles and the skin of
    the perineum.
  8. Finish off by rubbing the skin of your perineum between your thumb and forefinger for about a minute. It may feel tight at first, but with continued massage, it will relax and stretch.
  9. Don’t forget to check with your doctor or gynaecologist before you embark on a schedule for perineal massage. It’s recommended that you massage your perineum once a day during your last weeks of pregnancy.

WHAT ELSE CAN HELP DURING LABOUR?
There must be a million and one ideas about food, drinks and potions that can help bring on labour, or assist you through it, but remember to consult with your doctor or gynaecologist before trying them out. Some people recommend raspberry leaf tea as an aid to helping you through labour, and this is because it’s said to strengthen the uterine muscles. It’s not a one-shot solution though, and should be drunk in moderation for weeks before you go into labour. Others recommend ingesting pineapple to help labour along, while yet others swear by eating a hot curry if you’re eager to give birth. We should trust in ourselves more and let nature take its course. We don’t know what our destiny is – it may be that we aren’t able to labour and birth naturally, and perhaps a caesarean is our destiny. That gorgeous little miracle will enter the world on his or her own, when he or she is ready, provided that they are medically safe and sound.

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