Women's views on the practice of prenatal perineal massage


*Correspondance: Dr M. Labrecque, Centre hospitalier régional de Rimouski, Unité de médecine familiale, 165 rue des Gouverneurs, Rimouski (Québec), Canada


Objective To determine how women who practised perineal massage during pregnancy assessed the technique.

Design Observational study within one arm of a randomised controlled trial.

Setting Five secondary and tertiary care hospitals in the Province of Quebec, Canada.

Participants Among 763 women randomised to the massage arm of a clinical trial of perineal massage during pregnancy, 684 (90%) who completed a questionnaire after delivery.

Main outcome measures A 20-item questionnaire completed a few days after birth. The first 18 questions elicited opinions using a 6-point Likert scale. Based on a factor analysis, 17 of these questions were classified into four categories: acceptability of perineal massage (8 items); preparation for birth (4 items); relationship with the partner (2 items); and effect of massage on delivery (3 items). Scores of each scale varied between 1 (highly negative assessment) to 6 (highly positive assessment). The last two questions asked whether women would perform the massage in their next pregnancy and whether they would recommend perineal massage to another pregnant woman. In addition, 262 also provided comments about their experience in the daily diary provided to record compliance during the trial.

Results On average, perineal massage was felt to be quite acceptable [mean (standard deviation) 4.09 (0.93)]. Pain and technical problems reported during the first week or two of massage tended to disappear after a few weeks. Women's assessment of the effect of massage on preparation for birth [4.34 (1.08)] and on delivery [4.18 (1.37)] was positive. Women's views about the effect on their relationship with their partner were either positive or negative [3.54 (1.74)] and were proportional to the partner's participation with the massage. Most women said they would massage again if they were to have another pregnancy (79%; 95% CI, 76%–82%) and would recommend it to another pregnant woman (87%; 95% CI 84%–90%).

Conclusion Overall, women's assessment of prenatal perineal massage is positive.