Vaginal Massage Can Reduce Some Childbirth Pain and Procedures
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 20, 2000 (Minneapolis) -- If you're pregnant and would like to
experience less pain during childbirth, raise your hand. OK, that's just about
everyone. But if the pain of delivery isn't enough, 85% of you will also suffer
some form of internal trauma -- most requiring suturing of the delicate tissue
around the vagina. The good news is that there is a way to help prevent some of
these procedures and pains of childbirth.
Several recent studies have concluded that conditioning the tissues around
the vaginal opening with massage prepares the birth canal to perform. And the
better a woman prepares her internal tissues for the stretching of birth, the
less they will tear, and the better they will heal.
A massage technique performed for 10 minutes daily beginning at week 35 has
shown promise in studies of thousands of women. The technique, which involves
gentle stretching of the internal tissues using oil lubrication, can
significantly decrease the rate of injury and trauma from delivery. In some
cases, it may also eliminate the need for episiotomy -- an incision near the
vagina to allow ease of delivery. Women should "discuss the massage
technique with their clinician, especially in first pregnancies" where the
technique has shown to be of most benefit, according to Richard Johanson, MD,
of the North Staffordshire Maternity Hospital in England.
The massage method has been well received by pregnant women who have used
it. "About 80% of women studied said they would repeat massage in any
subsequent pregnancy and nearly 90% said that they would recommend it to
another pregnant woman," Johanson says.
Research data has also shown that restricting the use of episiotomy not only
reduces the risk of excessive blood loss, but also the risk of future problems
including pain, urinary incontinence, and infection.
"Research supports the assumption that [internal] massage and not doing
an episiotomy provides a more comfortable recovery with no change in damage to
perineal tissues [tissues between the vagina and the rectum]," Pat
Sonnenstuhl, ARNP, tells WebMD. Sonnenstuhl is a nurse practitioner and
certified nurse midwife in private practice in Olympia, Wash.