I can't speak highly enough of EPI-NO, and all my friends and relatives to whom I have recommended it have had similar positive experiences. I have attached my letter to The Sunday Age, 09/03/2008 (non-edited version)
"Prepare to Push. Regarding Meredith Nash's piece Too Posh to Push ? No, just too scared (02/03/2008), Has no-one else heard of EPI-NO?
Recommended to me by my obstetrician, EPI-NO was developed in Germany to exercise the pelvic floor muscles, stretch the perineum, and prepare your body for birth. Consisting of a silicone balloon connected to a hand pump, you exercise and stretch your perineum (use your imagination) from about 3 weeks before the expected delivery date of your baby. Anecdotal evidence* suggests that pre-labour training like this can prevent tearing, reduce the likelihood of an episiotomy, and prevent incontinence later on.
It has also been suggested that women who use EPI-NO are less scared, more in control, and more able to respond to their obstetrician or midwife's instructions during labour. Childbirth is exhausting, - and painful, but it also can be exhilarating, empowering and wonderful. Sure, as Meredith Nash suggests, continuous care from a health practitioner, and being counselled about your childbirth fears are very important, but lets get open minded and practical. Why wouldn't you exercise and prepare your perineum, just like you would any other muscle, before a marathon effort was required?" Claire, Melbourne
* The Australian Clinical Trial of EPI-NO was conducted at Box Hill Hospital, Melbourne by Prof. Gab.Kovacs. (see Resources)