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THE EXPERIENCE OF TOUCH RECEIVED DURING LABOR: Postpartum Perceptions of Therapeutic Value


  • Elizabeth R. Birch CNM, MSN

    Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Ms. Birch received her BSN from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1979, and her MS in Nurse-Midwifery from the University of Minnesota in 1984. After an internship at Los Angeles County Hospital, she was employed as a nurse-midwife at Ramsey County Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has most recently been employed as the Parent-Child Education Coordinator at Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

  • Adapted from the author's Master's thesis, 1984.

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This descriptive study examines the perceptions of women regarding the therapeutic value of touch received during labor. Thirty women who had a normal spontaneous vaginal birth attended by a nurse-midwife were interviewed during the immediate post-partal period. This study showed that various aspects of touch can be therapeutic during labor. Touch was perceived most frequently as therapeutic during the transition phase of labor—a finding that disputes current conceptual literature. Therapeutic touch meant sympathy, participation, and encouragement, and was perceived as able to reduce pain. Hand holding was the type of touch most consistent in therapeutic value throughout labor. The findings of this study showed that received touch was helpful to the woman in labor because it helped her cope with the experience.