Effect of Massage Therapy on Labor Progress and Plasma Levels of Cortisol in the Active Stage of First Labor


S. Ebrahim Hosseini 1 , * , Nasrin Asadi 1 , fatemeh zarei 1

1 Department of Biology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Fars, Iran

How to Cite: Hosseini S E , Asadi N, zarei F. Effect of Massage Therapy on Labor Progress and Plasma Levels of Cortisol in the Active Stage of First Labor, Zahedan J Res Med Sci. 2013 ; 15(9):e92853.


Zahedan Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: 15 (9); e92853
Published Online: May 28, 2013
Article Type: Research Article
Received: February 06, 2012
Revised: November 13, 2012
Accepted: April 20, 2013


Background: Anxiety and stress during labor increase plasma level of cortisol hormone and slow down the progress of delivery. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of massage therapy on the progress of labor and plasma level of cortisol in nulliparous women in labor.
Materials and Methods: In this experimental study, 30 subjects were selected voluntarily
among nulliparous women aged 20 to 30 years in active labor phase. They, then, divided
into two equal experimental and control groups randomly. The experimental group in the
active phase (dilated 3-4 cm) to transitional phase (dilated 8-10 cm) received massage
therapy. The massage was done for 10 minutes with 10 minutes rest in between sets.
Meanwhile, control group received no intervention. Next, labor duration and plasma level
of cortisol hormone were evaluated by drawing blood of parturient women. Results were
analyzed using independent t-test and paired t-test.
Results: The mean age of control and experimental groups were, 23.9±30 and 23.6±4.0 years, respectively. In terms of educational level, 10% in both groups were under diploma, 23.3% and 24.3% of subjects in control and experimental groups, in turn, had diploma, and 16.7% and 15.7% in control and experimental groups possessed bachelor degree, respectively. The results from statistical analysis showed that labor duration and level of cortisol hormone had significant reduction in experimental group than control group (p≤0.05).
Conclusion: According to the results from comparison between two groups, massage therapy decreases labor duration and the level of cortisol hormone. The probable reason is that massage may reduce stress and cortisol level, and increase uterine activity by decreasing anxiety.


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