Massage to reduce labour pain

I know labour has come and gone but I had a few things I hadn’t gotten around to posting before delivery, so forgive me if I backtrack a bit…

Whilst preparing for labour, I was interested to see if there were any ‘natural’ remedies that could reduce labour pain as I was keen not to use analgesia during labour.

I found this study, which looked at whether massage reduced pain severity during labour.

It was a randomised trial that looked at 46 women pregnant at or greater than 37 weeks singleton pregnancy, with spontaneous onset of labour, 4-5cm of cervical dilation, intact membranes, and no use of medication after admission to hospital.

The ‘experimental’ group received a 30 minute lower back massage┬áby a physiotherapist during the active phase of labour. The ‘control’ group didn’t receive massage.

Results showed the ‘experimental’ group having significantly less pain than the ‘control’ group. Obstetric outcomes were similar between the groups except the duration of labour, which was 6.8hr in the experimental group and 5.7hr (SD 1.5) in the control group (mean difference 1.1hr).

The authors concluded that massage reduced the severity of pain in labour.

NB: my hubbie very kindly massaged my lower back during labour and I found it helped quite a bit. At the very least it gave me a different sensation to concentrate on apart from the pain. Certainly little harm can come from massage, so give it a go!

Silva Gallo RB, Santana LS, Jorge Ferreira CH, et al. Massage reduced severity of pain during labour: a randomised trial. J Physiother. 2013;59(2):109-16.

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