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You may be able to reduce your need for an episiotomy, the surgical incision performed to prevent vaginal tearing during birth. The procedure is common in the U.S., despite the fact that many experts are calling its effectiveness into question.
A new review of studies found that women who practiced perineal massage -- inserting lubricated fingers 2 inches into the vagina and applying downward and sideward pressure -- for about four minutes, three to four times a week, during the last four or five weeks of pregnancy, were 15 percent less likely to require an episiotomy.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, June 2006.