Hydrotherapy in Labor

Therapy in the Shower

Have you ever just had a long day and all you want is a shower-and after this shower, you feel refreshed and renewed?

Water has been used for many ages as a tool to help with general comfort in addition to coping with labor pains. As a matter of fact, ancient Romans had large areas dedicated for bath houses and water.

There are so many benefits of using the shower while in labor. You can control the heat and depending on the shower head, you can control the pressure and the location of where you want the stream to hit. Showers can help decrease tension and increase muscle relaxation, in addition to lowering BP, heart rate and anxiety. The upright position of the shower can help by using gravity. Most showers have a bench to sit on or to use for various laboring positions.

Showering can help you get through early parts of labor and through transition. Warm water over mom’s breast can increase the frequency and strength of contractions. Showers are readily available in each labor room. They are quick, safe, and effective. This is a great option if you are working towards an unmedicated birth. However, not everyone knows about this option!

Therapy in the Labor Tubs

In addition to showers, WomanCare Centers is excited to officially announce we are working with EVa Homebirth to allow the option of labor pools for hydrotherapy. The concept of the labor tub is similar to the shower, but a laboring person is submerged. The buoyancy and the constant blanket of warm water is soothing and can help ease the pains of labor. It can also help soften the perineum, which can potentially decrease tearing during delivery.
Be mindful of clothing worn for hydrotherapy; a sports bra when wet, is hard to take off. Many women use a bikini type top or a bra with snaps that makes things easier to get on and off. For laboring moms, clothing is optional, but for the support person: please remain clothed! A second pair of clothes that can get wet may be a good idea for the support person! If you need to have continuous fetal monitoring, make sure to ask for the portable telemetry unit that is available (only for showers).
Safety in and around the labor pool is paramount! The midwives of WomanCare Centers are educated and trained on the use of hydrotherapy during labor, and have worked hard to bring this option to Sentara Leigh Hospital! For the use of the labor pools, pregnancy must be low risk and the patient has met all the eligibility criteria outlined during antenatal care. If all requirements have not been met or fetal heart rate monitoring is necessary, the showers are still a good option!
I hope this has helped answer some questions and provide information on alternative pain measures. We’d be glad to discuss this subject with you and your partner, just ask at your next OB visit! Thank you and I look forward to working with you throughout your pregnancy and in labor!