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ABSTRACT: The purposes of touch in labor in past cultures as well as in many peasant cultures today are to support the woman's position, to stimulate contractions, and to relieve pain. Large areas of the woman's body are supported or given different types of massage to accomplish this. In the United States today, labor is stimulated and pain relieved with medications, whereas touch is confined to smaller areas of the body—often hand-holding alone. The purpose of touch in labor in the United States is to communicate caring and reassurance.