Aniball and EPI-NO are devices used during your pregnancy to help your perineum to ‘practice’ stretching before the actual event. They have been shown to reduce the risk of tearing and even reduce the rates of instrumental deliveries. There are no guarantees you won’t tear even with these tools, you may not not tear during birth without the use of them or you may have a less sever tear than if you hadn’t used them at all. However, they can be quite expensive to purchase, so cost may be an issue. Other than that, it’s a great idea and we don’t think there’s any harm in trying them.
Another option is to start perineal massage. The perineum is the area between your vagina and your anus. You can start massaging this area anywhere from 34 weeks of pregnancy onwards, 3-4 times a week; using unscented oil, organic oil (such as grape seed oil) or lubricant. It’s great to do when you’re having a bath and it may help to use a mirror when giving it a go. Sometimes this area can be damaged while giving birth. Massaging your perineum from 34 weeks of pregnancy onwards may reduce the risk of damage.
How to do perineal massage:
You use one or two fingers to stretch the perineal tissue in a U-shaped motion downwards towards your rectum and back up again. You should feel a stretching sensation, you should stop immediately if you find this uncomfortable or painful.
Avoid perineal massage if you have vaginal herpes, thrush or a vaginal infection or if it’s in any way painful.