Massage for Childbirth Prep May Reduce Episiotomy Rate

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Pregnancy Massage

Low-tech, at-home preparation in the last month before childbirth could help pregnant mothers avoid one of the more common surgeries performed on women in the United States, a new review suggests.

The review looked at studies in which women used a massage technique in the last four or five weeks of pregnancy to train the lower genital tract for childbirth. During perineal massage a women kneads the tissue below the vagina to prepare the tissue to expand more easily during birth.

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There was a 15 percent reduction in episiotomies among the women who practiced perineal massage the review found, based on results from three trials, including data from 2,434 women.

The findings appear in the most recent issue of The Cochrane Library, publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

Lead reviewer Dr. Michael Beckmann and his colleagues also discovered an added benefit: Three months after birth, women who had practiced massage were less likely to report perineal pain

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