Have you heard of the Epi-No? Probably not -five years ago I hadn’t either. But expecting my first child had me on the quest to learn everything I could so that the baby wouldn’t ruin my body. Now at about this time, you men may want to tune out, or if you have a significant other about to enter into the luxury of childbirth, I suggest you stick around.
Childbirth…. Pain, pushing, pulling, gripping, grasping, tearing, screaming, groaning, then relief and reward. After all this pain I did not want to sit on a donut with ice packs for several weeks until I got my stitches out. Being in pain like a person who had ridden a horse for days straight was not my idea of fun, and I wanted to avoid it at all costs! I was lucky enough to have a midwife for both of my births- one in hospital, one at home. As I learned how to have a natural birth I decided I did not want an epidural, which was sure to lead to drug induction, stronger doses of pain medication, and an inability to feel what in the world was going on “down there”.
And so in my search to reduce vaginal trauma (GASP, I just used the word vagina in this blog!) I came across the EPI-NO, which basically stands for EPISIOTOMY NO MORE! Well, this was interesting and quite to my liking. I read reviews of how women had no tearing and increased confidence in childbirth, all because of this simple little device. I was quick to order it, and within the few weeks prior to my due date, I started to practice with it. So what exactly does it do? It is a balloon you slowly inflate over time to stretch your perineum to the magic number of…. You guessed it, 10cm. The discomfort is in your control and you can steadily guide yourself to increase the stretch over a few weeks instead of being faced with the sudden crowning of a massive baby’s head, in all its glory. Additionally you can squeeze the balloon and get a measure of your pelvic floor strength, pre- delivery and post- delivery. You can use it to guide your exercise program in the comfort of your own home.
So my little 6.5 lb baby girl was pretty easy after the Epi-No…. no tearing, no bruising, no swelling. The midwives were amazed! Did I truly push out that baby in 10 minutes with no signs of it?! But then a few years later came baby number two who was looking to be a big boy…the pressure was on! My midwives had faith that I could do my planned home birth, however the obstetrican was convinced I would need to come in for a c-section. And so I diligently practiced with the Epi-No. And after a short pushing phase of about 20 minutes, my 9 lb boy came out leaving no signs of trauma, not even a teeny bit. Perineum intact.
Years later, I am thankful for the Epi-no as it gave me confidence to have that head crown and to push through. It left me intact without stitches and it left me strong, as I would practice squeezing the balloon, trying to get a higher number each time. The Epi-No was well worth the money I spent and I recommend it to all expectant women I see. If you are pregnant, or know someone who is, I highly recommend it. We sell them in the clinic, and our women’s health therapists would be more than glad to help you out!
Go Epi-No, Go Epi-No, Go Epi-No, Go!
Melissa Voll MScPT, Women’s Health Therapist