animated goddess mdbs banner animated goddess

MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information

Massage and effleurage are two types of cutaneous stimulation used during labor for effective pain relief and comfort. Effleurage is a French word. When Dr. Fernand Lamaze's notes were translated from French into English, one of the few words kept was effleurage.

Practiced for over 5,000 years, touch is one of the oldest therapies. The whole person is treated using four basic techniques:
  • Effleurage (stroking)
  • Friction (pressure)
  • Percussion (drumming)
  • Petrissage (kneading)

All forms of massage use oil. Treatments restore relaxation and peace while reducing or ousting problems. Massage is now incorporated in other therapies such as Acupuncture, Rolfing (tissue massage), Aromatherapy, Reflexology, and Shiatsu.

Self-massage in circles

Effleurage is any light massage that glides over the skin but does not use pressure or movement of deep muscle masses (Tappan, 1978). Effleurage is performed by the laboring woman or by her partner/husband or her labor support (doula). Rhythmic slow circles are "drawn" with fingertips on the abdomen, thighs or arms. The sensation of pain is reduced by varying amounts, depending on the individual.

Light massage by partner


Effleurage is the most basic massage movement and is often used as a linking movement by which the therapist maintains contact with the client while smoothly transferring from one movement or area of the body to the next. Effleurage is suitable for use any area of the body that would normally be massaged (that is, avoiding any areas in which massage is contra-indicated).

The word "effleurage" is derived from the French verb "effleurer" which means "to stroke", or "to skim over". These translations are basically correct, but incomplete, descriptions of the effleurage technique used in massage.

An effleurage movement is a relatively slow and smoothly continuous stroke using the flat of the hand. The fingers are generally held together and molded to the contour of the client's body in a relaxed way. Although the fingers precede the palm of the hand as it is moved along the body, and they do apply some pressure, most of the pressure during this movement is applied by the palm of the hand.

Even pressure is applied during effleurage. The amount of pressure may differ between the outward and return strokes - generally with more pressure applied in the direction towards the heart, then slightly less in the return movement back to repeat the sequence. However, the speed of the motion should remain steady throughout the whole sequence.

An effleurage movement is usually repeated several times over the same area on the body. This is to induce relaxation, and also the physical benefits of effleurage, which can include: Stimulating the nerves in the tissues worked; stimulating blood supply to the tissues worked; facilitating cleansing of the skin; relaxing muscle fibers, and reducing muscle tension.

Contact must be maintained throughout the whole sequence. A therapist would not take her hands off a client during a sequence of 3 effleurage strokes, as each stroke moves smoothly and continuously into the next.

Shoulder and neck massage to promote relaxation during transitional labor contractions


The use of effleurage and massage illustrates the Gate Control Theory (Melzack & Wall 1965) and is the same basic principle at work when you stub your toe and then rub it, reducing the pain. Pain fibers taking the pain stimulus to the brain are smaller and the sensation travels slower than the touch fibers, which are large. When touch and pain are stimulated simultaneously, the touch sensation travels to the brain and "closes the Gate" in the brain, limiting the amount of pain perceived by the brain. Touch may also include counter-pressure, backrubs, heat/cold therapies and even acupuncture.

When other non-pharmacologic pain relief methods such as a focal point and music therapy, the cerebral cortex of the brain focuses more on these comfort measures than on the pain stimulus. This adds to the limitation of pain sensations perceived by the brain. Finally, memory or the cognitive processes are stimulated by taking childbirth education classes/having been exposed to and practicing relaxation and breathing techniques. Again, these also add to the limitation of pain sensations perceived by the brain.

While no one can honestly promise that childbirth will be a pain-free process, the use of non-pharmacologic comfort measures such as the stimulation of touch is an effective pain management strategy.


  1. Melzack, R., & Wall, P.D. Pain Mechanisms: A New Theory. Science. Vol. 150. 1964.
  2. Nichols, F. & Humenick, S. Childbirth Education: Practice, Research & Theory. Saunders, 1988.
  3. Reeder, Martin, Koniak-Griffin. Maternity Nursing: Family, Newborn, & Women's Health Care. Lippincott, 1997.
  4. Simpson K.R. & Creehan, P.A. AWHONN Perinatal Nursing. Lippincott, 1996.
  5. Tappan, F. Healing Massage Techniques. Reston Publishing, 1993.

Copyright 1999-2004 by Perinatal Education Associates, Inc.


MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Relaxation Practice
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Birthing Within
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Birth Instinct
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Preparation For Easy Labor
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Easy Natural Birth
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Guided Imagery Labor
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Labor & Laughter
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Labor Pain Truth
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Labor Preparation
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Pain Relief In Labor
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Childbirth
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Labor & Delivery Stages
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information: Positive Birth Environment
MoonDragon's Parenting Index

MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information Index
MoonDragon's Pregnancy Information & Survival Tips

MoonDragon's Womens Health Index

| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Health & Wellness Index


Allspice Leaf Oil
Angelica Oil
Anise Oil
Baobab Oil
Basil Oil
Bay Laurel Oil
Bay Oil
Benzoin Oil
Bergamot Oil
Black Pepper Oil
Chamomile (German) Oil
Cajuput Oil
Calamus Oil
Camphor (White) Oil
Caraway Oil
Cardamom Oil
Carrot Seed Oil
Catnip Oil
Cedarwood Oil
Chamomile Oil
Cinnamon Oil
Citronella Oil
Clary-Sage Oil
Clove Oil
Coriander Oil
Cypress Oil
Dill Oil
Eucalyptus Oil
Fennel Oil
Fir Needle Oil
Frankincense Oil
Geranium Oil
German Chamomile Oil
Ginger Oil
Grapefruit Oil
Helichrysum Oil
Hyssop Oil
Iris-Root Oil
Jasmine Oil
Juniper Oil
Labdanum Oil
Lavender Oil
Lemon-Balm Oil
Lemongrass Oil
Lemon Oil
Lime Oil
Longleaf-Pine Oil
Mandarin Oil
Marjoram Oil
Mimosa Oil
Myrrh Oil
Myrtle Oil
Neroli Oil
Niaouli Oil
Nutmeg Oil
Orange Oil
Oregano Oil
Palmarosa Oil
Patchouli Oil
Peppermint Oil
Peru-Balsam Oil
Petitgrain Oil
Pine-Long LeafOil
Pine-Needle Oil
Pine-Swiss Oil
Rosemary Oil
Rose Oil
Rosewood Oil
Sage Oil
Sandalwood Oil
Savory Oil
Spearmint Oil
Spikenard Oil
Swiss-Pine Oil
Tangerine Oil
Tea-Tree Oil
Thyme Oil
Vanilla Oil
Verbena Oil
Vetiver Oil
Violet Oil
White-Camphor Oil
Yarrow Oil
Ylang-Ylang Oil
Healing Baths For Colds
Herbal Cleansers
Using Essential Oils


Almond, Sweet Oil
Apricot Kernel Oil
Argan Oil
Arnica Oil
Avocado Oil
Baobab Oil
Black Cumin Oil
Black Currant Oil
Black Seed Oil
Borage Seed Oil
Calendula Oil
Camelina Oil
Castor Oil
Coconut Oil
Comfrey Oil
Evening Primrose Oil
Flaxseed Oil
Grapeseed Oil
Hazelnut Oil
Hemp Seed Oil
Jojoba Oil
Kukui Nut Oil
Macadamia Nut Oil
Meadowfoam Seed Oil
Mullein Oil
Neem Oil
Olive Oil
Palm Oil
Plantain Oil
Plum Kernel Oil
Poke Root Oil
Pomegranate Seed Oil
Pumpkin Seed Oil
Rosehip Seed Oil
Safflower Oil
Sea Buckthorn Oil
Sesame Seed Oil
Shea Nut Oil
Soybean Oil
St. Johns Wort Oil
Sunflower Oil
Tamanu Oil
Vitamin E Oil
Wheat Germ Oil


  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Amino Acids Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Antioxidants Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Enzymes Information
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Herbs Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Homeopathics Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Hydrosols Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Minerals Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Mineral Introduction
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Dietary & Cosmetic Supplements Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Dietary Supplements Introduction
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Specialty Supplements
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Vitamins Introduction


  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: 4 Basic Nutrients
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Avoid Foods That Contain Additives & Artificial Ingredients
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Is Aspartame A Safe Sugar Substitute?
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Guidelines For Selecting & Preparing Foods
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Destroy
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Foods That Heal
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: The Micronutrients: Vitamins & Minerals
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Avoid Overcooking Your Foods
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Phytochemicals
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Increase Your Consumption of Raw Produce
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Limit Your Use of Salt
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Use Proper Cooking Utensils
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Basics: Choosing The Best Water & Types of Water


  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Information Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutritional Therapy Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutritional Analysis Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutritional Diet Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutritional Recipe Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Therapy: Preparing Produce for Juicing
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Information: Food Additives Index
  • MoonDragon's Nutrition Information: Food Safety Links
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Index
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Articles
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Back Pain
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Labor & Birth
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Blending Chart
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Essential Oil Details
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Links
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Miscarriage
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Post Partum
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Childbearing
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy For Problems in Pregnancy & Birthing
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #1
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Chart of Essential Oils #2
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Tips
  • MoonDragon's Aromatherapy Uses
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Index
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Information Overview
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Therapy Index
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health: Touch & Movement Therapies Index
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health Therapy: Touch & Movement: Aromatherapy
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Therapy: Touch & Movement - Massage Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Alternative Health: Therapeutic Massage
  • MoonDragon's Holistic Health Links Page 1
  • MoonDragon's Holistic Health Links Page 2
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Nutrition Basics Index
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Therapy Index
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Massage Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Hydrotherapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Pain Control Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Relaxation Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Steam Inhalation Therapy
  • MoonDragon's Health & Wellness: Therapy - Herbal Oils Index


    Starwest Botanicals

    Educational materials and health products are available through
    Use the search box provided below to search for a particular item.

 Herbs, Foods, Supplements, Bath & Body

    Herbs Direct

    Chinese Herbs Direct

    Ayurvedic Herbs Direct

    Pet Herbs Direct

    ShareASale Merchant-Affiliate Program


    A website map to help you find what you are looking for on's Website. Available pages have been listed under appropriate directory headings.