Can complementary and alternative medicine have an effect on pain management in labour?

From: The Cochrane Collaboration

Journal rating:
rating: 98%
Study Quality:
rating: 100%

Overall Reliability

Article Quality:
rating: 65%
rating: 50%


  • Fourteen trials were included in the review with data from 1,448 women.


  • A search of existing trials comparing complementary and alternative therapies with placebo, no treatment or pharmacological forms of pain management in labour.
  • Three trials involved acupuncture (496 participants), one audio-analgesia (24), two trials acupressure (172), one aromatherapy (22), five trials hypnosis (729), one trial of massage (60), and relaxation (34).


  • The trials of acupuncture showed a decreased need for pain relief.
  • Women taught self-hypnosis had decreased requirements for pharmacological analgesia including epidural analgesia and were more satisfied with their pain management in labour compared with controls.


  • Yes (without confidence)


Editors Notes

  • There is insufficient evidence about the benefits of music, massage, relaxation, white noise, acupressure, aromatherapy, and no evidence about the effectiveness of massage or other complementary therapies in the management of pain in labour.