pregnant woman relaxing on pier in bright blue dress

Massage May Reduce Labour Pains

Massage during pregnancy is often recommended and a great way to soothe expectant mums, but did you know that massage in labour has been shown to help reduce labour pains?

Research from 2012, which has recently been published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, reported that women experienced less pain when they were given massage therapy during childbirth.

A total of 77 women took part in the study at the British Columbia Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada. Thirty-seven of them had a massage while they were in labour, and the other 40 women were treated as normal. All of the women taking part were also given the freedom to use non-invasive pain management techniques.

The women who had a massage all received a traditional Swedish massage from a registered massage therapist for up to five hours while they were in active labour. They were all told that they could pause the massage at any time and could choose to have the massages given intermittently if they preferred. If they decided it was all getting too much for them and they preferred to have an epidural, the massage was stopped.

The researchers found that women in the massage therapy group opted to have epidural pain relief at a later stage of labour than the routine care group did, and lower pain levels were reported from the women who were massaged, too.

The study went on to say that carrying massage on for longer might have even stronger effects on labour pain, as statistically, the effect wasn’t significant (although it may have felt quite significant to the women in labour!)

Because the sample size was quite small, we hope they will carry on the research with a larger number of women taking part, so that the effects of massage therapy can really be studied. Anything that makes giving birth hurt less has got to be worth looking into, hasn’t it?

Women seem to like the idea of a relaxing massage during labour – 60 per cent of the women who were asked if they wanted to take part in the study said that they would like a massage. It’s also worth noting that of the women who did take part, none of them asked the massage therapist to stop!


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