Labor Tools: Water
What it is:
Water can be incorporated into labor through a shower or a bath. Some women even enjoy labor pools.
How it works:
In the shower, the warmth and pressure of the sprays of water help to relieve tension in the muscles, encouraging deeper relaxation.
A bath or tub goes one step further. When the body is in a pool of water, the water helps to support the weight of the uterus, reducing the pressure felt by the mother.
Some women find that a warm shower can push them from early labor into active labor very quickly.
How to do it:
The mother can easily shower or bathe in her own home. Simply remain nearby for support. If she is in hard labor, she may need you to help prevent her from falling during a contraction in the shower.
Remember to keep the water warm, but at or near body temperature. Overheating can cause the mother to be tired, light headed or even sick to her stomach.
Experts disagree on the level of danger of infection from laboring in water after your bag of waters has broken. Most experts agree that a woman in her own tub will not have any higher infection risks. You should discuss your desire to labor in water with your caregiver.
Most hospitals and birth centers have showers available for laboring mothers. Some hospitals have labor pools or Jacuzzi tubs that the mother can relax in as well.
Integrating it into labor:
Have the mother kneel in the shower and rest her head and upper body on a shower chair. Aim the shower spray at her lower back. If possible, set the spray on massage.
In a tub, have the mother submerge most of her body, and lean to one side. She can hang over one side of the tub to stabilize herself. Adjust yourself so you can massage her lower back while she is in the water.
If a hot tub is available, set the temperature to 98.6 or slightly lower. The mother can soak and relax as she normally would.