A new International Journal of Nursing Practice study demonstrates that during childbirth, women may benefit from warm showers, perineal exercises with a ball, or the combination of both strategies. The study found positive effects of these strategies in terms of lessening pain, anxiety, and stress.
The study was a randomized controlled trial conducted with 128 women during childbirth who were admitted for hospital birth in São Paulo, Brazil from June 2013 to February 2014.
"When we evaluated pain and anxiety using a visual analog scale, and also evaluated the salivary release of stress hormones before and after interventions of warm showers and perineal exercises with a ball, we found greater tolerance regarding pain, reduction of anxiety, a decrease in the release stress hormones, and an increase in well-being hormones," said lead author Dr. Angelita José Henrique, of the Federal University of São Paulo. "Our results indicate that these interventions should be encouraged because they are safe practices, low-cost, and are directly related to comfort, and they should be used as an adjuvant to medications and anesthesia during childbirth."