Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2012;5(4):15-20. Epub 2012 Dec 19.

Massage therapy and labor outcomes: a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

  • 1School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada ; Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada ; Department of Obstetrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada ; Child and Family Research Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Erratum in

  • Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2013;6(1):25.



Massage is a time-honored method by which women have received comfort throughout the millennia, yet it has not been rigorously evaluated in the modern day delivery suite. No study to date that we are aware of has evaluated the effect of massage therapy by a regulated massage therapist on labor pain. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of massage therapy provided by registered massage therapists in managing pain among women in active labor.


BC Women's Hospital, Vancouver, BC.


a randomized controlled trial.


77 healthy nulliparous women presenting in spontaneous labor.


Swedish massage administered for up to five hours by a registered massage therapist during labor vs. standard care. Main outcome measures include: cervical dilation at the time of administration of epidural, compared using estimated marginal means in an analysis of covariance. We also compared perception of pain at three time periods during labor according to cervical dilation at 3-4 cm, 5-7 cm, and 8-10 cm using the McGill Present Pain Intensity Scale.


The mean cervical dilation at the time of epidural insertion after adjustment for station of the presenting part, cervical dilation, and status of membranes on admission to hospital was 5.9 cm (95% CI 5.2-6.7) compared to 4.9 in the control group (95% CI 4.2-5.8). Scores on the McGill Pain Scale were consistently lower in the massage therapy group (13.3 vs. 16.9 at 3-4 cm, 13.3 vs. 15.8 at 5-6 cm, and 19.4 vs. 28.3 at 7-8 cm), although these differences were not statistically significant.


Our findings from this pilot study suggest that massage therapy by a registered massage therapist has the potential to be an effective means of pain management that may be associated with delayed use of epidural analgesia. It may therefore have the potential to reduce exposure to epidural analgesia during labor and decrease rates of associated sequelae.


epidural analgesia; labor pain; massage; randomized controlled trial

Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk