Dancing: The Secret to Reducing Childbirth Pain

Peter Gillespie ’25

Figure 1: The labor dance has been shown to increase comfort for mothers and decrease traumatic birth perceptions.

Birth is a psychologically traumatic experience for more than 40% of women. In fact, pain during labor has been linked to depression in the weeks after birth. Current methods to reduce pain predominantly focus on pharmacological and physical support, neglecting the psychologically taxing aspect of childbirth. To maximize comfort, it is vital to incorporate emotional support into pain relief for mothers as well. Some studies have shown that dancing the pain away may be a viable option for pregnant women going into labor. During the active phase of labor, from the time when cervical dilation begins right up until the point of labor, the mother slowly dances with the midwife while she massages her sacral area. Based on this calming phenomenon, researchers from Urla State Hospital in Turkey hypothesized that labor dancing can increase comfort during and after birth and, consequently, decrease traumatic perception.

To test this, pregnant women who have given birth just once before were randomly divided between two groups: those who participated in a labor dance and those who followed standard birthing procedures. After the labor dance, a researching midwife administered the Childbirth Comfort Questionnaire near the end of dilation. Later, the Postpartum Comfort Scale and the Traumatic Childbirth Perception Scale were administered in both groups, and survey data was analyzed. Women who participated in the labor dance reported childbirth comfort scores five times higher than those who did not, with the higher comfort level extending after birth as well. The women who danced also experienced significantly lower traumatic perceptions around the birth. 

The success of the labor dance is attributed to both the physical and mental care it provides. The dancing provides freedom of movement to the mother, and the sacral massage provided by the midwife alleviates pain. The calming music and emotional connection established through dancing are just as vital, providing critical support to the entire birthing team. Additionally, dancing with the midwife is thought to foster deeper connections with vital healthcare personnel, building rapport and decreasing trauma within the experience. Indeed, labor dancing shines as a potential method to increase comfort and prevent traumatic experiences for mothers. After all, when has dancing not put someone in a good mood?

Works Cited: 

[1] A. Bihter, et al., The effect of labor dance on traumatic childbirth perception and comfort: a randomized controlled study. Clinical Nursing Research 1, 1-9 (2021). doi: /10.1177/10547738211030745.

[2] Image retrieved from:
https://www.maxpixel.net/Parent-Mother-Child-Parenting-Newborn-Baby-Care-4100420

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