What is a perineal tear and how to do perineal massage

Your perineum is the area between your vagina and anus (back passage). 9 out of 10 first-time mothers have a tear, graze or episiotomy (cut) during child-birth. There are ways of helping reduce the risk of this happening or reducing the risk of having a serious tear.

Perineal massage

Perineal massage in pregnancy aims to gradually soften and stretch the vagina and area around it in preparation for birth. Research studies have found that perineal massage from 34 weeks of pregnancy can reduce the chance of your vagina tearing and also reduce the need for forceps or ventouse (suction cup) to help with the birth your baby.

Perineal massage is especially recommended for women and people who are:

  • Having their first baby, 
  • Over 30 years old 
  • Have had an episiotomy (cut to the perineum) before. 

Do not perform perineal massage:

  • before 34 weeks pregnant 
  • If you have vaginal thrush, herpes or any other vaginal infection
  • If you think your waters have broken

This leaflet describes how you can reduce the risk of needing stitches after your baby is born and includes further details on how to perform perineal massage. 

Reducing Your Risk Of Perineal Tears During Childbirth Leaflet Perineal tears and episiotomies in childbirth - Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

This video explains how to do perineal massage in pregnancy

This video is available with subtitles in other languages at the bottom of this page.

Videos with subtitles in other languages:

Perineal massage in pregnancy – Urdu subtitles

Perineal massage in pregnancy – Somali subtitles

Perineal massage in pregnancy – Punjabi subtitles

Perineal massage in pregnancy – Polish subtitles

Perineal massage in pregnancy – Bengali subtitles