Aim: The study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of antenatal perineal massage (APM) in reducing perineal trauma and post-partum morbidities.
Methods: A randomized controlled trial of 108 primigravidae at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria, was conducted from January 2013 to May 2014. The intervention group received APM, while the control group did not receive APM.
Results: Women who received APM were significantly more likely to have an intact perineum after childbirth [27/53 (50.9%) vs 16/55 (29.1%); RR: 1.75; 95% CI: 1.07-2.86; P = 0.02]. The incidence of episiotomy was lower in the intervention group [20/53 (37.7%) vs 32/55 (58.2%); RR: 0.65; 95% CI: 0.43-0.98; P = 0.03; NNT = 5]. Women who received APM were significantly less likely to develop flatus incontinence [4/53 (8.3%) vs 13/55 (26.0%); RR: 0.32; 95% CI: 0.11-0.91; P = 0.03]. However, the incidences of premature rupture of membranes, preterm labor and birth asphyxia were similar between the two groups (P > 0.05).
Conclusion: APM reduces the incidence of episiotomy and increases the incidence of women with an intact perineum after vaginal delivery. It also reduces the risk of flatus incontinence after childbirth without increased maternal or neonatal complications. Women should therefore be counseled on the likely benefits of APM and the information provided during antenatal care. Obstetricians should consider the technique as routine prenatal care for nulliparous women so as to reduce the incidence of perineal trauma during vaginal birth.
Keywords: antenatal perineal massage; episiotomy, flatus incontinence, perineal trauma; post-partum morbidities.
© 2018 Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.