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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2018 Sep 19:1-13. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2018.1512574. [Epub ahead of print]

Perineal massage during labor: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Author information

1
a Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine , University of Salerno , Salerno , Italy.
2
b Department of Neuroscience, Reproductive Sciences and Dentistry, School of Medicine , University of Naples "Federico II" , Naples , Italy.
3
c Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology , Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University , Philadelphia , PA , USA.
4
d Department of Woman's and Child's Health , University of Padua , Padua , Italy.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Different techniques have been analyzed to reduce the risk of perineal trauma during labor.

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate whether perineal massage techniques during vaginal delivery decreases the risk of perineal trauma.

SEARCH STRATEGY:

Electronic databases (Medline, Prospero, Scopus, ClinicalTrials.gov, Embase, ScienceDirect, the Cochrane Library, SciELO) were searched from their inception until February 2018. No restrictions for language or geographic location were applied.

SELECTION CRITERIA:

We included all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the use of perineal massage during labor (i.e. intervention group) with a control group (i.e. no perineal massage) in women with singleton gestation and cephalic presentation at ≥36 weeks. Perineal massage was defined as massage of the posterior perineum by the clinician's fingers (with or without lubricant). Trials on perineal massage during antenatal care, before the onset of labor, or only in the early part of the first stage, were not included.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:

All analyses were done using an intention-to-treat approach. The primary outcome was severe perineal trauma, defined as third and fourth degree perineal lacerations. Meta-analysis was performed using the random-effects model of DerSimonian and Laird to produce summary treatment effects in terms of either a relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence interval (CI).

MAIN RESULTS:

Nine trials including 3374 women were analyzed. All studies included women with singleton pregnancy in cephalic presentation at ≥36 weeks undergoing spontaneous vaginal delivery. Perineal massage was usually done by a midwife in the second stage, during or between and during pushing time, with the index and middle fingers, using a water-soluble lubricant. Women randomized to receive perineal massage during labor had a significantly lower incidence of severe perineal trauma, compared to those who did not (RR 0.49, 95% CI 0.25-0.94). All the secondary outcomes were not significant, except for the incidence of intact perineum, which was significantly higher in the perineal massage group (RR 1.40, 95% 1.01-1.93), and for the incidence of episiotomy, which was significantly lower in the perineal massage group (RR 0.56, 95% CI 0.38-0.82).

CONCLUSIONS:

Perineal massage during labor is associated with significant lower risk of severe perineal trauma, such as third and fourth degree lacerations. Perineal massage was usually done by a midwife in the second stage, during or between and during pushing time, with the index and middle fingers, using a water-soluble lubricant.

KEYWORDS:

Cesarean; incontinence; operative delivery; prolapse; vaginal delivery

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