Many pregnant people we connect with often ask about how to prepare for birth. We thought we’d share a few of our tips about how specifically to prepare your perineum for birth!
A lot of people are concerned about vaginal tears during birth. These are extremely common, especially for nulliparous women (women who have not previously given birth).
The good news is, there are some simple techniques that you can practice at home to reduce your risk of tearing and reduce the need for an episiotomy (when your care provider makes a small cut along your perineum to help baby birth safely).
Perineal massage, which is the process of gently stretching out your pelvic floor muscles before birth, has been shown in studies to reduce the likelihood of perineal trauma (mostly episiotomy) and ongoing perineal pain.
We have a handout for perineal massage and you can find it here. We provide an overview of its benefits, and how to perform it! You can do it on your own or have your partner perform it for you.
The evidence about its benefit for women who have given birth before isn’t as clear (meaning we aren't sure if it reduces the risk of significant trauma to your perineum if you’ve already had a vaginal birth) but there is definitely no harm in doing so!
Another question people often ask us if they should shave in preparation for birth. A common misperception is that it can reduce the risk of infection, but the general consensus from the literature is that there is NO benefit to shaving or waxing.
Shaving or waxing doesn’t reduce the risk of infection, and can actually be associated with multiple side effects including irritation, itching and burning of the vulva. In fact, a few years ago there was a ‘leave the hair down there’ campaign run by a colleague a few years back!
Now, if you are someone who shaves regularly or gets regular bikini waxes, there is no need to stop in pregnancy and around the time of delivery, but I would actually advise against getting a bikini wax around the time of delivery. And if waxing and/or shaving isn’t something you routinely do, there’s no need to start in pregnancy!
We hope you’ve found this information helpful! If you like topics like this, please sign up for our email list to get notified when we release new content!