Massage

Bibliographic reference Study type Evidence level Number of women Women’s characteristics Intervention Comparison Length of follow-up Outcome measures Effect size Source of funding Additional comments
Huntley AL, et al (2004) 125Systematic review1+1 RCT and 1 prospective cohort study involving 118 womenWomen in established labour.Massage by partner (initially taught by nurse-midwife) for 20–30 min. periods throughout first stage of labour.
Reassuring touch by nurse-midwife for a period of 5–10 sec. after each verbal expression of anxiety for 30 min. intervention period at end of forst stage of labour (8 – 10 cm cervical dilation).
Usual care, including coaching in breathing – no massage taught to partner and no extra reassuring touchEarly postpartum periodPain: Women’s reports using on 5-point Likert scale.
Stress during labour:
Women’s reports, partners’ reports
Women’s blood pressure during intervention.
Mood: woman’s reports during labour (depression scale and VAS “feeling good” scale); women’s reports immediately postnatally (depression scale)
Anxiety/agitated behaviour:
Blind observer’s ratings (inc. facial expressions); verbal expressions of anxiety; women’s PN reports of intrapartum anxiety
Duration of labour: partners’ reports of labour progress, data from medical records
Obstetric complications (composite score)
Neonatal complications (composite score)
Days spent in hospital
Women’s reports of pain signif. lower in massage group (mean score reduction 5.0 to 3.5 in massage group vs. an increase from 4.3 to 5.0 in the control group, p<0.05).
Stress during labour signif. lower in massage group (p<0.001 by women’s ratings, p<0.05 by partners’ ratings)
Women’s blood pressure signif. lower during intervention (touch) (mean 116/75 vs. 130/80)
Mood signif. improved for women in massage group (p<0.05 for intrapartum depression scores, VAS scores of “feeling good” and postnatal depression scores).
Anxiety/agitated behaviour: both signif. lower for massage group ((p<0.01 and p<0.001 respectively). Signif. higher number of positive facial expressions reported for women in massage group (p<0.05). No. of verbal expressions of anxiety during intervention period signif. reduced in reassuring touch group (mean 8(SD 5.5) vs. 14(SD 2.6), p<0.05); PN scores for intrapartum anxiety signif. lower in touch group (18 (SD 3.3) vs. 28 (SD 2.3), p<0.05).
Duration of labour: Partners’ ratings of labour progress signif. higher for massage group (p<0.05); charted duration of labour signif. shorter for women in massage group (mean 8.5 hours vs. 11.3 hours, p<0.05).
No signif. differences found for obstetric and neonatal complications.
Signif. shorter hospital stay for women in massage group (mean 1.3 vs. 2.2 days, p<0.05).
Not statedNot possible to pool data due to differences between interventions and outcome measures.

Both trials US.
Simpkin PP & O’Hara M (2002) 86Systematic review1+2 RCTs involving 84 womenWomen in established labour.Massage by partner (initially taught by nurse-midwife or researcher) for 20–30 min. periods throughout first stage of labour.Usual care, including coaching in breathing in RCT and control “casual attendance” by researcher in prospective study.Early postpartum periodPain: Women’s reports using on 5-point Likert scale; nurse-rated pain using the Present Behavioural Intensity (PBI) scale.Pain lower in the massage group during the intervention compared to the control group (5.0 to 3.5 reduction vs. an increase of 4.3 to 5.0).
Statistical analysis not reported.
Lower scores on PBI scale for women in massage group during all 3 phases of labur (p<0.002).
Not statedNot possible to pool data due to differences between comparators and outcome measures.
1 US trial US, 1 trail Taiwan

From: Evidence tables

Cover of Intrapartum Care
Intrapartum Care: Care of Healthy Women and Their Babies During Childbirth.
NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 55.
National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health (UK).
London: RCOG Press; 2007 Sep.
Copyright © 2007, National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health.

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