Women who received pregnancy massage therapy reported decreased depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain. Cortisol levels decreased and, in turn, excessive fetal activity decreased, and the rate of prematurity was lower in the massage group. In a study of labor pain, women who received massage therapy experienced significantly less pain, and their labors were on average 3 h shorter with less need for medication. An underlying mechanism we have been exploring is that these effects are mediated by increased vagal activity.
Field, T. (2010). Pregnancy and labor massage therapy. Expert Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5, 177-181.