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Pregnancy and Massage

Sixty primiparous women expected to have a normal childbirth in Taiwan were randomly assigned to either the experimental or the control group. The experimental group received massage whereas the control group did not. In both groups, there was a relatively steady increase in pain intensity and anxiety level as labor progressed. The experimental group had significantly lower pain reactions and reported that massage was helpful, providing pain relief and psychological support during labor.

-- Chang, M.Y., Wang, S.Y., & Chen, C.H. (2002). Effects of massage on pain and anxiety during labor: a randomized controlled trial in Taiwan. -- J Adv Nurs., 38, 68-73.

Twenty-six pregnant women were assigned to a massage therapy or a relaxation therapy group for 5 weeks. The therapies consisted of 20-min sessions twice a week. Both groups reported feeling less anxious after the first session and less leg pain after the first and last session. Only the massage therapy group, however, reported reduced anxiety, improved mood, better sleep and less back pain by the last day of the study. In addition, urinary stress hormone levels (norepinephrine) decreased for the massage therapy group, and the women had fewer complications during labor and their infants had fewer postnatal complications (e.g., less prematurity).

-- Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Hart, S., Theakston, H., Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C. & Burman, I. (1999). Pregnant women benefit from massage therapy. -- Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 20, 31-38.

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last update: April 2009

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