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Childbirth: Perineal Massage Before Labour


During childbirth, the perineum stretches and often tears. The perineum is the muscle and tissue between the anus and the vagina. One step you could take that might help prevent tearing is to stretch and massage the perineum for a few weeks before your due date.

Studies show that some people who did regular perineal massage reported less perineal pain in the weeks after childbirth. People having their first vaginal delivery also had lower rates of episiotomy.footnote 1

Starting at week 34 of your pregnancy, take about 5 minutes to massage your perineum, 3 to 4 times a week. At first, it may burn and feel uncomfortable. But this should get better after a few massage sessions.

  1. Sit with your legs apart and your back supported.

    You might want to have a hand mirror handy, so you can see your perineum. Or your partner can do the massage for you.

  2. Put some massage oil on your fingers.

    Or you can use a water-soluble vaginal lubricant, such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly.

  3. Place a thumb or finger about 5 cm (2 in.) into your vagina.

    Use your thumb or finger to gently stretch the wall out to the side. Call this 3 o'clock.

  4. Still pressing and stretching outward, sweep down to 6 o'clock and over to 9 o'clock.
  5. Repeat for a total of 4 or 5 minutes.



  1. Beckmann MM, Stock OM (2013). Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4).


Current as of: November 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine