So, to help you avoid unnecessary perineal trauma, here are some techniques AND the research on their effectiveness.
But first: one of the most important things you can do is choose a medical birth professional who knows how to support your perineum! There is a wide range of expertise, and variety in approach, among medical professionals. So ask the medical members of your birth team about their practices. [For more about choosing the medical professionals for your birth support team, read my blog post: Who's Responsible? (1)]
You might pose questions like:
- What techniques will you use to support my perineum when my baby's head is emerging?
- What is your episiotomy rate for first time birth-givers (or second, or third...)?
- Are you skilled in supporting people giving birth in a variety of pushing positions?
[WARNING: There are pictures below of actual perinea, perineal massage and a baby emerging. Stop here if you're not interested.]