The EPI-NO: For a Better Labour

 

Over the centuries, different cultures have used creative methods to help lessen the pain of labour or ease delivery. In Africa, for instance, women use gourds of increasing size to help stretch the perineum in preparation for birth in order to reduce the likelihood of tearing. This seemingly archaic practice was actually the inspiration for a modern day device called the EPI-NO that women can use to prepare their pelvic floor for birth by stretching the perineum.

The perineum is the area of skin between the vagina and the rectum and it is an area worth protecting! During pregnancy and childbirth your perineum and pelvic floor muscles will face an ever-increasing load and will be extensively stretched during delivery. Without proper preparation, the perineum can also tear during childbirth, or be cut in a procedure called an episiotomy (to enlarge the space for the head to come through - well intended but we know realize that it causes much more dysfunction and pain such as incontinence, decreased sensation and even organ prolapse postpartum). Fortunately, the perineum can be protected and the pelvic floor muscles can be optimized with the EPI-NO.

The EPI-NO is a biofeedback tool that allows you to connect with your pelvic floor - a part of your body that you have probably not give much thought to. You use the EPI-NO during pregnancy to learn how to contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles (learning to relax is key!). Then in the last three weeks of pregnancy you use the device to help prepare the perineum for birth using it for perineal massage (stretching the perineum and learning to yield against the discomfort you will feel as the baby’s head is crowning).

Pelvic health is a very neglected topic in childbirth preparation classes and health care visits so unfortunately many women don’t know about this information until it is too late.   By getting to know your pelvic floor prior to childbirth, you will be ready when it comes time to push your baby out and will be better able to prevent unnecessary pain and dysfunction.

Pelvic floor exercise is the best way to prepare your pelvic floor for birth and protect the perineum.   Strong, flexible muscles are able to support the weight of the growing baby, are able to relax to allow the passage of the baby’s head and are able to recover more quickly post-partum.   Women with a strong and functional pelvic floor will also be less likely to experience post-partum pelvic floor dysfunction. Because the pelvic floor is not visible, it can be difficult to identify the muscles and know if you are contracting and relaxing them. The EPI-NO is a biofeedback device, meaning it can help you ‘see’ your exercise!

Here are a few other benefits of this amazing product.

  • Clinical trials show a significant reduction of perineal injury in vaginal births;
  • Second stage of labour is considerably reduced, which lessens the likelihood of interventions, and a shorter pushing time means less stretch and compression time on the muscles and nerves and connective tissue.
  • Reduces anxiety and enhances self-confidence about the delivery;
  • Simple to use and easier than perineal massage;
  • Optimal device for speeding the regeneration/recovery process. 

As a mother, you are taking every care to ensure your baby is healthy and protected. You need, however, to ensure that you are healthy and protected as well. By strengthening your pelvic floor with the EPI-NO during your pregnancy you are creating a strong foundation to carry the weight of your growing baby and support the anatomical changes that are happening to your body. By preparing the perineum with the EPI-NO in the final weeks before delivery, you will reduce the likelihood of tearing, therefore decreasing your healing time the likelihood of developing challenges such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse or painful, less pleasurable sex. Post-partum, your EPI-NO will help you regain and maintain the strength and integrity of your muscles ensuring your continued pelvic floor wellness.

This is a product I used in both of my pregnancies and as a post-partum regeneration tool. I highly recommend it and have created a general video on how to use, a second shorter video complete with a vulva puppet showing you how to use the biofeedback aspect of the device and a third video talking about the perineal massage training so you can get the most out of this amazing birth preparation tool!