PERINEAL MASSAGE FOR PREVENTION OF TRAUMA AT CHILDBIRTH

An editorial in the British medical journal, Lancet, shows that perineal massage helps to prevent damage to the vagina and rectum during childbirth. Eighty-five percent of women delivering a baby naturally, through the vagina, tear the vaginal wall or rectum during delivery or have the doctor cut the vagina to prevent this tearing. This can cause painful intercourse, loss of control of urine or stool, and persistent pain in that area. Kegel exercises, where the woman inserts a finger, constricts her vaginal muscles , holds to the count of ten, relaxes and then repeats the exercise, are not effective.

Five recent studies show that perineal massage helps to prevent tearing of the vagina during childbirth, particularly during the first childbirth. From the 35th week of pregnancy to the day of birth, a woman inserts a lubricated finger and stretches the vaginal opening for 10 minutes day. This procedure helped prevent tearing of the vagina and rectum primarily in women who were having their first childbirth. 80% said that they would repeat massage during future pregnancies, while more than 90% stated that they recommend it for other pregnant women.

1) Lancet, January 22, 2000 355;250-251. 2) H Labrecque, E Eason, S Marcoux. Randomized trial of perineal massage during pregnancy: Perineal symptoms three months after delivery. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2000, Vol 182, Iss 1, Part 1, pp 76-80.

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