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Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Mar;5(2):177-181.

Pregnancy and labor massage.

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  • 1Touch Research Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics (D-820), PO Box 016820, Miami, FL 33101, USA.


Massage therapy has been demonstrated to be effective during pregnancy. Women who received massage therapy reported decreased depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain. Cortisol levels decreased and, in turn, excessive fetal activity decreased, and the rate of prematurity was lower in the massage group. In a study of labor pain, women who received massage therapy experienced significantly less pain, and their labors were on average 3 h shorter with less need for medication. An underlying mechanism we have been exploring is that these effects are mediated by increased vagal activity. This likely occurs by the stimulation of pressure receptors that are innervated by vagal afferent fibers, which ultimately project to the limbic system, including hypothalamic structures involved in autonomic nervous system regulation and cortisol secretion.

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