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Perineal massage

Read to find out how to do perineal massage during pregnancy and for information on the benefits of massaging the perineum before childbirth.

Massaging the perineum - the area between the vagina and anus - in the last weeks of pregnancy has been shown to reduce the likelihood of tearing during birth, and of needing stitches or an episiotomy. You can do it alone, or your partner can do it with or for you.

Here’s how to do a perineal massage:

  • Get comfortable, lying against some pillows on the bed, with your legs bent at the knees so you or your partner can reach your perineum.
  • Massage oil (preferably vegetable-based) into the skin of the perineum using fingers and thumbs.
  • Then place your fingers around 5cm (2 inches) inside your vagina and press downwards towards the anus; move to each side in a U-shaped stretching movement. This may give a tingling/burning sensation.
  • Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds then release.

The feeling during perineal massage is similar to what you will feel when your baby's head is crowning.

Page last updated: 19 May 2014

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of the antenatal phase and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about having a baby, labour and life with a new child.

You can find leaflets about exercise, preparing for the antenatal phase and parenthood, as well as physiotherapy for common antenatal conditions here.

NHS Choices offers information on pelvic floor exercises.