For many massage in labor sounds amazing and others may be unsure. Having a doula who is a also a licensed massage therapist can help you out not only during pregnancy but also during labor and postpartum.   Here’s a list of some of the benefits to massage in labor!  More to come later on the benefits of massage during pregnancy and postpartum.

 

• Improves Physiological Functioning: Nurturing touch and emotional support increases oxytocin levels; oxytocin helps decrease anxiety, blood pressure, and cortisol levels, and can have a sedative effect, helping women manage contractions more easily.

• Speeds Labor: Nurturing touch helps speed labor and decreases the need for augmentation of contractions with synthetic oxytocin, and possibly, when using effective stimulating abdominal massage, may increase the strength and/or frequency of contractions.

• Relieves Muscular Discomfort: Massage is commonly used to reduce muscular aching and cramps. During labor this is especially helpful with common leg cramps or low back aches.

• Decreases Use of Pain Medications: Touch can increase a woman’s pain perception and threshold therefore decreasing the use of pain medications.

• Relieves Muscular Discomfort: Massage is commonly used to reduce muscular aching and cramps. During labor this is especially helpful with common leg cramps or low back pain.

• Improves Back Pain: Touch techniques to the low back can relieve “back labor” and general low back pain.

• Increases Dilation: Many midwives and massage therapists find that massage to the jaw, or the “upper mouth” can help to relax the “lower mouth,” or the vagina and cervix, promoting dilation and birth.

• Helps the Baby Reposition Appropriately: Belly rubs, used in conjunction with other techniques and supervised by the client’s PCP, might be helpful for encouraging babies to move from posterior positioning to anterior, optimizing delivery.

• Renews Energy: During a long labor, the use of invigorating strokes or acupressure can help increase energy.

• Increases Satisfaction: Quality support, as well as nurturing touch, improves a woman’s ability to cope with contractions and increases her level of satisfaction with her birth.

• Offers Birth Companions Effective Support Tools: Gives the labor support team specific ways to feel useful and improve a woman’s experience.

• Decreases Anxiety: touch provides emotional support and reassurance and decreases anxiety and fear, helping a woman to relax and have increased confidence in herself and her process, thereby improving the progression of birth.

Reduces Medical Interventions: Continuous emotional and touch support during labor reduces the incidence of medical interventions such as cesarean birth, forceps, and the use of synthetic oxytocin hormone-pitocin.

• Reduces Depression: Touch during birth has been shown to decrease the incidence of postpartum depression.

• Increases Maternal Attention Toward Infant: Studies have shown that women who receive loving support and nurturing touch during labor, touch and interact with their infants more than those who do not receive that support.

Reference:

Stager, Leslie. Nurturing Massage for Pregnancy. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010:145, 150-151