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Massage therapy effects on depressed pregnant women


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Visceral and pregnancy

J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol.2004 Jun;25(2):115-22.


T Field, M A Diego, M Hernandez-Reif, S Schanberg, C Kuhn


Eighty-four depressed pregnant women were recruited during the second trimester of pregnancy and randomly assigned to a massage therapy group, a progressive muscle relaxation group or a control group that received standard prenatal care alone. These groups were compared to each other and to a non-depressed group at the end of pregnancy. The massage therapy group participants received two 20 min therapy sessions by their significant others each week for 16 weeks of pregnancy, starting during the second trimester. The relaxation group provided themselves with progressive muscle relaxation sessions on the same time schedule. Immediately after the massage therapy sessions on the first and last days of the 16-week period the women reported lower levels of anxiety and depressed mood and less leg and back pain. By the end of the study the massage group had higher dopamine and serotonin levels and lower levels of cortisol and norepinephrine. These changes may have contributed to the reduced fetal activity and the better neonatal outcome for the massage group (i.e. lesser incidence of prematurity and low birthweight), as well as their better performance on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavior Assessment. The data suggest that depressed pregnant women and their offspring can benefit from massage therapy.

Publication Date: 

2004 Jun



Field, T., Diego, AM., Hernandez-reif, M., Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C. (2004) 'Massage therapy effects on depressed pregnant women', J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol.2004 Jun;25(2):115-22.

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