A little while ago I mentioned on FaceBook that “my” Epi-no had arrived. There were a lot of reactions, and lots of questions, so now you’re getting an Epi-no post. 🙂
The first time I heard of the Epi-no was a few years ago at the Negenmaandenbeurs (baby expo). Tami, the woman behind the Epi-no came to me at the expo and said that she sold the Epi-no in the Netherlands, and would I be interested in helping her to create more interest in the product? I’m always happy to help promote products I truly believe in, but I knew nothing about the Epi-no, and I couldn’t try it out myself. I was given 2 Epi-nos to give to clients, and after their positive reactions I was sold!
Some background info: the Epi-no is a birth trainer based on an African custom whereby women use calabashes to stretch their vagina walls before the birth, to minimise the chance of tearing. The Epi-no is based on this principle, and if people have heard of it, that’s mostly the part they’re familiar with. But the Epi-no does much more than reduce the chance of a tear or an episiotomy. It’s not called a ‘birth trainer’ for nothing. You can train your pelvic floor muscles with it (before and after the birth), and because of the training you have a better idea of what to expect during the pushing phase, which makes this phase shorter in women who have practised with the Epi-no. Your confidence grows through practise, and considering that a large part of the childbirth process relies on what’s happening in your head, more confidence is a big advantage!
There are various exercises you can do with it. I have very well-trained pelvic floor muscles (and I’m using them as little as possible at the moment, to minimise pelvic pain), so I didn’t do that bit. I focused on the stretching, and practising pushing. It’s an easy exercise in theory, but it does take a little getting used to. The Epi-no is a little balloon, which you insert into your vagina, and then pump up until you can go no further. You leave the balloon in for 10 minutes, and then you remove it again. Once you’ve taken it out you can see – with the paper ruler provided – how many centimeters you achieved. The goal is of course 10cm, but I think that looks huge! (I have no delusions that a baby’s head is any smaller, but still…. :P)
In practise it’s actually quite tricky, because the balloon pops out, or it pops in. It takes a bit of searching for the right pressure to keep it in the right place for the 10 minutes required. You do get better at it, the more you practise, but it’s not really fun, of course. It’s not something which makes you think ‘Yay! I can practise again!’ 😉 I do really feel that I now have a very good idea of how to push when the time comes, and it always feels good when I manage to stretch another centimeter. Every woman I know who has used the Epi-no has been enthusiastic about it, even if they did tear or have an episiotomy. They all felt like they knew what to do when the pushing phase started, and that’s not always the case for most women.
You can read 3 birth stories from women who used the Epi-no here:
- Baby, Pizza, Amore, Joy and Tears
- Good pregnancy, good preparation, good birth
Of course I can’t tell you now what effect this will have during the birth, but I know that being aware and busy with this now, and gaining some more confidence, makes it worth it already!
So my evening ritual has changed a little, and next to my bed there is now a bottle of cleaning alcohol so that I don’t have to get out of bed afterwards. In the morning I wash it with soap and water, and in the evening I practise again.
I’m a fan, and I will definitely let you know how my experience was once I’ve given birth. You can find more information about the Epi-no here: http://www.epino.nl/