Ice Massage for the Reduction of Labor Pain

Bette L. Waters, CNM, RN, Jeanne Raisler, CNM, DrPH, FACNM


J Midwifery Womens Health. 2003;48(5) 

In This Article


Fifty-three participants were solicited for the study. Two women were excluded because they had difficulty under-standing the concept of the measurement tool, one dropped out after reading the consent form, and one withdrew at her own request, leaving 49 women who completed the study. Twenty-nine were Hispanic and 20 were white. Their ages ranged from 16 to 38 years. Fifteen were multigravidas and 34 were primigravidas. Forty-one were dilated 3 or more centimeters; eight were completely effaced and 1 to 3 cm dilated at the start of the intervention. None had received any type of pain medication prior to entering the study.

The range of pain intensity on the VAS pretest was 10.0 to 86.0 mm, and the mean value of initial pain intensity was 61.53 mm. After ice massage, the right-hand mean value was lower (49.60 mm), and left-hand mean value was even lower than the right-hand (33.31 mm) ( Table 1 ).

In a post hoc test of these multiples using Duncan's New Multiple Range test, it was concluded that the three means were detectably different. Although ice massage on either hand provided pain reduction, 46 participants felt less pain with left hand massage, and six felt less pain with the right.

The principal question addressed on posttest 2 was whether the memory of pain intensity, before and during ice massage, was different. Standard analysis was equivalent to a paired t test. The analysis of variance indicated a detectable difference in pain scores before and during ice massage. The mean pain unpleasantness before ice massage was 3.27, and mean pain unpleasantness after ice massage was 2.33. The verbal description of pain dropped from "distressing" to "discomforting" ( Table 2 ).


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