The effectiveness of a relaxation training program for women with preterm labour on pregnancy outcomes: a controlled clinical trial

Int J Nurs Stud. 2012 Mar;49(3):257-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2011.09.007. Epub 2011 Oct 2.


Background: Prenatal maternal stress is associated with adverse birth outcomes. Few studies have been published on the effectiveness of relaxation techniques focusing on women with preterm labour.

Objects: The object of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a relaxation training program on pregnancy outcomes in women experiencing preterm labour.

Design: A single-blinded, controlled clinical trial was used.

Settings: The study was conducted in two hospitals. Both of the study hospitals located in northern Taiwan are also large teaching hospitals and share the same treatment protocols of preterm labour.

Participants: Inclusion criteria were being pregnant and diagnosed with preterm labour, singleton, hospitalized at time of entry into the study, at gestation between 20 and 34 weeks, and having a cervical dilatation of less than 3 cm. Exclusion criteria were if they had one or any combination of the following: antepartum hemorrhage, infection, hypertension, gestational diabetes mellitus, or immunologic disease.

Methods: The experimental group (n=68) participants received a mini mp3 player containing a 13-min relaxation audio program, which they were instructed to follow daily, while the control group (n=59) received only routine prenatal care. Pregnancy outcomes were obtained from medical charts after each woman gave birth.

Results: Survival analysis demonstrated that the experimental group had a significant pregnancy prolongation compared to the control group (p=0.048). Participants receiving the relaxation training program had a significant lower proportion of extreme preterm birth, a higher rate of not being admitted to a NICU, and a lower rate of stay days within 30 days when compared with the control group. No significant differences were found on pregnancy outcomes in terms of the rate of preterm birth, low birth weight, Apgar score at 1 and 5 min, mode of birth, and perinatal mortality between the two groups.

Conclusions: Relaxation training for women with preterm labour is effective in delaying of delivery and enhancing positive pregnancy outcomes. This relaxation intervention is cost-effective, noninvasive, and easily applicable in women with preterm labour.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apgar Score
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / statistics & numerical data
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature*
  • Patient Admission
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stillbirth
  • Taiwan