Watsu for Pregnancy

Effects of Passive Hydrotherapy WATSU (WaterShiatsu) in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy: Results of a Controlled Pilot Study

Agnes M. Schitter, Marko Nedeljkovic, Johannes Fleckenstein, Luigi Raio, Heiner Baur, Bern University Hospital, Switzerland, Sep 2014

Many studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health.
This controlled pilot study investigated the effectiveness of Watsu (WaterShiatsu) massage therapy on Pregnancy. It demonstrates significant benefits for reducing stress and pain, improving mood, and mental health.


WATSU (WaterShiatsu) is a complementary therapeutic treatment method comprising passive stretches and massage techniques administered in 35°C warm water.
Pregnant women claim safe methods to reduce pain, stress, and fatigue. Therefore, we conducted a pilot study evaluating the effects of WATSU on pregnancy-related complaints in third trimester pregnant women.


Nine healthy pregnant women at gestational week ≥34 were included in an intervention group (receiving WATSU) and compared to eight women in a passive control group (receiving no treatment).
WATSU was performed on days 1 and 4 of the study, accompanied by ultrasound examinations. Outcomes include physiological and psychometric as well as qualitative data. Participants in the control group completed questionnaires only.


WATSU was found to significantly lower participants’ levels of stress and pain and to improve their mental health-related quality of life and mood. In comparison to the passive control group, participants in the intervention group reported reduction in perceived stress from day 1 to day 8 (, Cohen’s ). Qualitative data indicate that WATSU was appreciated as enjoyable and deeply relaxing. No negative side effects were reported.


Our findings support the notion that WATSU yields therapeutic benefits for pregnant women and warrant further research.



Copyright © Agnes M. Schitter et al.


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