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Paula Kashtan

How to Prevent Tearing During Delivery

Tearing during childbirth may be pretty normal, but it's nobody's idea of a good time. Find out what you can do to help prevent it.

Sorry, but there’s no surefire way to prevent tears in the skin surrounding your vagina during delivery. (Yes, ouch.) But, some studies do show that regular perineal massage during the final six weeks of pregnancy can reduce your risk. This technique gently stretches the vaginal opening, making it more elastic and better able to fit around baby’s noggin.

To perform the massage yourself, wash your hands and lube up your fingers with KY jelly, vegetable oil or vitamin E. Sit on your bed or on the floor with your knees bent and your legs slightly spread. Place your thumbs three to four centimeters inside your vagina, with the pads of your thumbs pressing on the bottom. Use your thumbs to stretch the vaginal opening downward and to the sides, and hold until it stings slightly. Then gently but firmly massage the bottom half of the vagina, and place a thumb inside and pull outward on the lower rim. Repeat twice a day, and feel free to ask your partner for help!

Remember, though: Despite some studies that show that women who massage have fewer tears, many OBs believe it helps very little (or not at all).

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