Originally Posted by milkydoula
I was at my sister's prenatal appt (i am her doula) with the midwife i am considering using and the midwife suggested that she do prenatal perineal massage. She said that it would help her be able to relax the muscles when there was a lot of pressure from the babies head pushing on it and to train the muscles to relax under pressure.
So you train yourself to relax at manipulating your tissues -- your body is not going to recognize the birth experience as the same sort of thing, so it's not going to react the same way. You can get to where you can be completely relaxed in a relaxing environment with nothing in particular happening to your body, in complete privacy with only your own hands on yourself. That is not going to hold for intercourse or rape. It's not necessarily going to hold for someone besides yourself touching your genitals, or for a baby's head coming through when you're having contractions. The way behaviorism works, if that's what she's after, it requires some degree of specificity. Certain conditions must be present for the learned automatic response to set in.
She's trying to solve the wrong "problem" anyway. The body's tissues don't have to be trained to relax -- they already know how to, and will, given the right conditions. Just like with sex. If a woman is fully aroused, that is, if the body's hormonal process is facilitated and undisturbed and the woman is healthy, the vulval tissues are not going to be traumatized during sex. Even assuming that a woman can train herself to relax while her vulva is being handled, it's going to be superfluous unless
she's expecting to not
have a normal sexual experience.
I'll leave you to make the parallel with birth.
|I have a history of sexual abuse and have issues with tensing those muscles anyways (sex took a lot of getting used to and relaxation on my part). Would perineal massage help in this case? I would love some input
Does it have more to do with issues of power and trust and inhibition at having others touch you, or with the sensation of being touched in itself? Can you masturbate? In other words, can you touch yourself without tensing up? When you are in a warm bath in private, say? If not, then yes, it would probably be very helpful to allow yourself to feel good things in your vagina, so your body has other associations with it beside sexual assault. (Although it sounds like you've already been doing that to some extent.) I don't know, though, how stretching and rubbing the skin is relevant to this, unless it makes you feel good!
(Directions for perineal massage are often qualified with, "if it doesn't hurt, it's not doing you any good." As pertains to a normal bodily function, this is just plain wrong. But especially for someone with sexual abuse issues, it's an especially irresponsible thing to suggest.)
If you are fine with certain types of touch, then I would say that what you really need to do is disassociate the working of your body in birth with the sexual abuse. They have nothing to do with each other, one is coming from the inside with your desire and consent, the other from the outside without it. And then set up the birth so as to allow you to remain in a place where those associations will not come up, where you are respected, where you feel completely in control, where you don't feel inhibited.