Background: Many women would like to avoid pharmacological or invasive methods of pain management in labour and this may contribute to the popularity of complementary methods of pain management. This review examined currently available evidence on the use of relaxation therapies for pain management in labour. This is an update of a review first published in 2011.

Objectives: To examine the effects of mind-body relaxation techniques for pain management in labour on maternal and neonatal well-being during and after labour.

Search methods: We searched Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth’s Trials Register (9 May 2017), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library, Issue 5 2017), MEDLINE (1966 to 24 May 2017), CINAHL (1980 to 24 May 2017), the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (18 May 2017), ClinicalTrials.gov (18 May 2017), the ISRCTN Register (18 May 2017), the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) (18 May 2017), and reference lists of retrieved studies.

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (including quasi randomised and cluster trials) comparing relaxation methods with standard care, no treatment, other non-pharmacological forms of pain management in labour or placebo.

Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion and risk of bias, extracted data and checked them for accuracy. We attempted to contact study authors for additional information. We assessed evidence quality with GRADE methodology.

Main results: This review update includes 19 studies (2519 women), 15 of which (1731 women) contribute data. Interventions examined included relaxation, yoga, music and mindfulness. Approximately half of the studies had a low risk of bias for random sequence generation and attrition bias. The majority of studies had a high risk of bias for performance and detection bias, and unclear risk of bias for, allocation concealment, reporting bias and other bias. We assessed the evidence from these studies as ranging from low to very low quality, and therefore the effects below should be interpreted with caution.


labour, pain management, relaxation techniques

Available for download on Friday, March 29, 2019



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