Cochrane Summaries

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Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma

Beckmann MM, Stock OM
Published Online: 
30 April 2013

Antenatal perineal massage helps reduce both perineal trauma during birth and pain afterwards.

Most women are keen to give birth without perineal tears, cuts and stitches, as these often cause pain and discomfort afterwards, and this can impact negatively on sexual functioning. Perineal massage during the last month of pregnancy has been suggested as a possible way of enabling the perineal tissue to expand more easily during birth. The review of four trials (2497 women) showed that perineal massage, undertaken by the woman or her partner (for as little as once or twice a week from 35 weeks), reduced the likelihood of perineal trauma (mainly episiotomies) and ongoing perineal pain. The impact was clear for women who had not given birth vaginally before, but was less clear for women who had. Women should be informed about the benefits of digital antenatal perineal massage.