New research shows massage therapy reduces labor pain more than music therapy does, and the researchers say massage can be clinically recommended as an alternative, safe and affordable method of pain relief for laboring women.

Researchers from Iran’s Ilam University of Medical Sciences set out to compare the labor-pain relieving aspects of massage therapy to those of music therapy, according to a report published on

One hundred and one women who were hospitalized for vaginal delivery were recruited and randomly stratified into two groups of either massage (n = 51) or music (n = 50) therapies. Pain was measured using the visual analog scale, and the two groups were compared in terms of pain severity before and after the interventions.

Women in the massage therapy group had a lower level of pain compared to those in the music therapy group. Additionally, “a significant difference was observed between the two groups in terms of pain severity after intervention,” the researchers noted. “Agonizing, or most severe, labor pain was significantly relieved after massage therapy.”

The research is running the journal Womens Health.

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