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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 437650, 10 pages
Research Article

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

1Department of TCM/Acupuncture, Institute of Complementary Medicine IKOM, University of Bern, Imhoof-Pavillon, Inselspital, 3010 Bern, Switzerland
2Department of Health, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Murtenstrasse 10, 3008 Bern, Switzerland
3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Inselspital, University Hospital of Bern, Effingerstrasse 102, 3010 Bern, Switzerland

Received 6 June 2014; Revised 26 August 2014; Accepted 15 September 2014

Academic Editor: Pau-Chung Chen

Copyright © 2015 Agnes M. Schitter et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. 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. Methods. 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. Results. 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. Conclusion. Our findings support the notion that WATSU yields therapeutic benefits for pregnant women and warrant further research. This study has been registered at NCT01708018.