Benefits of massage therapy and use of a doula during labor and childbirth

Altern Ther Health Med. 2000 Jan;6(1):66-74.


This article reviews the most recent literature on touch support and one-to-one support during labor and childbirth. The positive and negative aspects of the traditional birth attendant are presented. Research in one-to-one care and touch support during labor is examined with respect to husband/partner, nurses, nurse-midwives, and doulas (trained labor attendants). According to recent studies, women supported by doulas or midwives benefit by experiencing shorter labors and lower rates of epidural anesthesia and cesarean section deliveries. Also, a smaller percentage of their newborns experience fetal distress and/or are admitted to neonatal intensive care units. Women whose husbands or partners massage them during labor experience shorter labors. Nursing one-to-one support results in no significant obstetric outcomes. Antenatal perineal massage was found to reduce the rates of tears, cesarean section, and instrumental deliveries. Research in perineal massage during labor has shown no benefit.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric*
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Midwifery*
  • Nurse Midwives*
  • Pregnancy
  • Spouses