Perennial Preparation • Lie on your back, knees pulled up, arms relaxed at your sides, tense the muscles around your urethra, vagina and rectum and count to three, then relax totally, repeating six times, for pelvic tone. • Try this tip to help locate pelvic muscles accurately - when you next go to the loo, interrupt the flow of urine by pinching - the sensation will be exactly the same as one uses the same muscles. • Lie on your left side, left leg slightly bent at the knee, right leg flexed more and resting on a pillow, left arm behind your back, right arm flexed in front of you and resting on the same pillow as your head, tense your perineal muscles, repeat six times but steadily increase amount as you get the hang of it. • Practise tensing these very important perineal muscles almost anywhere and at almost any time, for example in the car or bus on the way to work, in the lift, on the loo! • It is also important to be able to help open perineal muscles voluntarily at birth. • To help prepare your perineum to stretch easily at birth and to strengthen your thighs and pelvic muscles and ligaments, imitate a butterfly. • Sit on the floor with your buttocks pressed right up against the wall, your back straight and shoulders relaxed, bend your knees, bring the soles of your feet together, place your hands on your knees, push them downwards with butterfly-like movements for a few minutes at a time, most days of the week. • Use a pregnancy and birth ball to good effect by sitting securely, then lunging from side to side to stretch the perineal area. • Roll your pelvis around in big circles on the birth ball. • Toning and stretch exercises will increase suppleness, tone the pelvic area and strengthen back muscles. • Practice squatting to strengthen the muscles of your legs, buttocks and pelvis as well as helping stretch pelvic tissue. Perennial Preparation II • The perineum is the thick muscle wedge between vagina and anus. • Massaging one’s perineum for 4-6 weeks before birth helps make the area more supple and able to stretch. • Using the correct oil and massage technique can help avoid perineal tearing or the need for an episiotomy, the cut done to increase the dimensions of the vaginal outlet. • Massage your perineum at least 5 nights a week before retiring. • Ensure that you hands are clean and spray or pour a little oil onto your fingertips. • Place your thumbs into the vaginal outlet and massage the perineum between your index, middle fingers and thumbs for a few minutes until the area feels softer. • Keeping your thumbs in position, stretch the vaginal outlet sideways a number of times and then down and slightly forwards. • If you find it difficult to reach the area over your swelling abdomen, lie on one side or stand with one foot up on a chair and use only one hand to do something similar, or one’s partner can assist. • Perineal massage also increases awareness of the area that must stretch to let baby out and it is easier to focus on it in the birth process and visualise it opening. • If you have thrush or another vaginal infection, make sure this is cleared before starting this massage routine.
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