FWIW, my OB said that because of risk of increasing a histamine (inflamatory) reaction in the perineum prior to birth, DO NOT do perineal massage for several weeks prior to due date.
When I was in PT school, I observed a few births as well (read: very limited experience)... I can tell you that perineal massage (albeit perhaps overly aggressive) during labor (given by a well meaning nurse to a lady with an epidural) did not help this particular lady either. She soooo red, swollen, and hot even before she started to push! She practically had blisters! OUCH!
I've heard conflicting accounts of personal success with perineal massage, but never read any GOOD research either way... Personally, I think that squatting to stretch the perineal musculature and soft tissue is much more focused (and easier to implement)!!!
Good LUCK!! Sending STRETCHY perineal vibes your way (and mine - fingers crossed) during labor!!
Momma to Teo born March 2010 and fur babies:. Devoted wife to "Hubby of the Year."