Labour & Delivery

Say What? Holding Hands During Childbirth Can Actually Ease Labour Pain

Sure, having your partner’s hand to break gently squeeze during labour is nice. But can it really help reduce the writhing pain pulsating through your body?¬†

This study claims so.

Let’s face it. Holding hands during labour isn’t going to provide as much relief as an epidural. But, hey, if it stops intense labour pain, then it’s worth a shot!

Attention dads: Your big strong man mitts are required in the labour ward

Holding hands is a bit cute. And, believe it or not, sometimes a good ol’ fashion hand hold is all a gal needs.

But holding hands is not just great for leisurely strolls or as a way to keep track of your kids near busy roads. It is also beneficial during childbirth or so a group of researchers claim.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Halifax teamed up to examine the effects of hand holding during incidents of intense pain, such as, you guessed it, labour.

A hands-on labour

The study looked at 22 heterosexual couples between the ages of 23 and 32 who had been together for at least a year. The researchers hooked each participant up to a brainwave measuring device so they could track their brain activity.

The couples sat in both the same room and in separate rooms, touching in one scenario and not touching in the other. In some of the scenarios, the women were exposed to mild heat-related pain on their arms, which, we assume was supposed to represent labour pain. Not very accurately, might we add.

They found that when the woman experienced pain, holding hands synced the couple’s brainwaves. This connected the couple and somehow, alleviated some of the pain. However, when she was in pain and her partner wasn’t in the room and couldn’t get to her, their brainwaves stopped syncing.

Hold my hand, dammit!

Although researchers admit they need more studies to confirm their theory (and possibly even a study which involves holding hands during labour), the bottom line is clear:

“Empathetic touch can make a person feel understood, which in turn could activate pain-killing reward mechanisms in the brain.”

Looking for more ways your partner can support you during labour? Here’s a fun little checklist of what NOT to do.

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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