Warm showers and perineal exercises may be effective for reducing the pain associated with childbirth, according to a study published online in the International Journal of Nursing Practice.

Angelita José Henrique, RN, PhD, from Federal University of São Paulo in Brazil, and colleagues randomized 128 women during childbirth (June 2013 to February 2014) to receive warm shower hydrotherapy, perineal exercises with a ball, or a combination of the 2 interventions.

The researchers found that pain, anxiety, and epinephrine release decreased in the group performing perineal exercises with a ball. β-endorphin levels also increased significantly in this group after the intervention (P =.007). 

There were no significant differences noted in cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine levels between the groups.

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“Warm showers and perineal exercises could be considered as adjunct therapy for women suffering from pain, anxiety, and stress during childbirth,” the authors write.

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Henrique AJ, Gabrielloni MC, Rodney P, Barbieri M. Non-pharmacological interventions during childbirth for pain relief, anxiety, and neuroendocrine stress parameters: a randomized controlled trial [published online March 7, 2018]. Int J Nurs Pract. doi: 10.1111/ijn.12642