How to use Water during labour
It’s not just to drink! Have you thought about using water during your birth? Now I don’t necessarily mean are you planning a water birth itself. Water births are lovely and amazing but sadly only available if you are having a home birth in our community. If you are having a planned home water birth you’ve undoubtedly already done your homework! But have you considered simply using water from a shower or bath during your labour to help ease your pain? A lovely warm shower can work absolute magic to ease the sensation of contractions.
Hospitals in our area have lovely Jacuzzi tubs available for labouring women and honestly they rarely get used! Why you ask? I have no idea! Why these amazing resources are underutilized is baffling, when knowing that every time I’ve put a woman in the tub during her labour , immediately her face changes.
Let’s explore when and how you can use water to your advantage during labour.
Water provides relaxation and positive distraction.
In early labour, a warm shower or bath may be just enough to relax muscles and mildly distract you while your contractions are coming infrequently or are just strong enough to annoy you but not really getting your baby anywhere yet.
In active labour a removable shower head can be used to shower your lower back or abdomen to provide relief from muscle fatigue and as well provide a positive distraction. Contractions don’t feel great, but warm water running over your body does! This tricks the mind into letting you experience the bad feeling of the contraction at the same time as the good feeling of the water. This releases ‘endorphins’ the bodies natural pain relievers and helps lessen the ‘feeling’ of the contraction. This allows you to cope better and longer.
A bath tub works in the same way but with the added bonus of using buoyancy to alleviate extra aches and pains. And don’t be fooled by an IV or fetal monitoring belts if you are in hospital. You can still get in the tub! In hospital midwives or nurses can wrap an IV so that it doesn’t get wet. Most hospitals now use monitoring belts and dopplers to monitor baby’s heartbeat that are waterproof (just check with your care provider).
during Transition (the hardest part of labour when you cervix is fully dilating) water may be the only tool you have left in your tool box to get you to the finish line. When labour is at its peak, warm water can be soothing and calming to help focus your body and your emotions for the task at hand, delivering your baby. Ask your partner to get in the tub or shower with you and comfort you until its time to push! Make it a pool party!
Maggie Hilton RN, BScN
Like what you’ve read? Looking for more tips to get you through labour? Check out our “Natural Pain Management for Labour” Class
Maggie Hilton RN, BScN, is a Registered Nurse with 6 years of experience in Childbirth Nursing and 4 years of experience as a Childbirth Educator in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Maggie is a part time instructor at Conestoga College where she teaches maternity nursing courses to Nurses looking to further their careers in the maternal-child field. She has a great passion for childbirth education, especially in regards to pain management during labour. Maggie is the mother of two young children, one of whom was born at home and one of whom was born in hospital.