Does perinneal massage really help prevent tearing during birth?
There are conflicting statistics as far as I know. Personally, I did it with my first and still tore, but my situation was unusual because I was unassisted and freaking out and pushed through the ring of fire rather than holding off like I should have. I plan on doing massage again this pregnancy because I figure there's no harm. Tearing also has a lot to do with having a good provider who can help you prevent it, eating a good diet, and kegels. I'm planning on doing a combination of all of the above.
Personally though, tearing wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I tore up and down and I think the down was a 2nd or 3rd degree tear. It was pretty bad. I hated getting stitched up (likely because the unfriendliness of the on-call OB I saw when we transferred and the fact I was still in shock), but I healed quickly and have no residual damage (meaning I never feel it or anything). It was a bit tender for a while, but I have a friend who had her baby 4 years ago and had an episiotomy and she still feels it if she shifts how she's sitting wrong or during sex.
Superhero and mother to Peanut (03/20/09) and Twig (01/20/2012). Fighting for the rights of mothers out there who and much more!
I have never done it. The only time I tore was when I birthed in the hospital, on my back, with an epidural. (On your back is by far the worst birthing position.) With my other babies (who were all quite large), I had no tearing at all.
The best thing you can do to prevent tears is get a care provider who believes birth is a natural process, and lets you push on your own with directing you. No, "PUUUUUUUUUUUSH 1........2..........3...........4..........5.........6" (etc.) Push when your body tells you to.
Mama to five babies. The newest one made her debut 7.10.12!