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Around 80 per cent of women will have a tear or a cut during a vaginal birth, and around 70 per cent will need stitching. There isn’t a definitive way to prevent tearing, but you can take some steps that might help reduce your risk.
One thing you can try is perineal massage. It's not for everyone, but antenatal perineal massage may also help the tissues around your vagina recover faster from giving birth. The evidence isn't terribly strong though - so if you can't quite face it, there's no need to feel guilty.
Up to six weeks before your due date, you can start massaging your perineum (we say ‘can’... it’s more a case of whether you can reach it). The perineum is the area of skin and muscle between your vagina and anus. You can rub it with olive oil to soften it up. Like a steak. (No, don’t thank us.)
Place your thumbs inside your vagina, and gently stretch and massage your perineum using a U-shape motion. Concentrate on how it feels to relax your perineum - this will be extremely useful for helping you give birth in a more gentle way as a relaxed perineum is less likely to tear than a tense one.
If you can’t reach, you might like to ask your partner to do it for you. Or you might not.
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