If you’re currently pregnant and expecting, you may be considering different methods for reducing pain
Benefits of hydrotherapy during labor to reduce pain & discomfort
If you’re currently pregnant and expecting, you may be considering different methods for reducing pain and discomfort during labour. One option that is often recommended is hydrotherapy, which utilizes water to provide relief. Here we’ll discuss the benefits of hydrotherapy during labour and some of the best ways to experience it. But first…
What is hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy during labour is the use of water to help reduce discomfort and pain during childbirth. This can include immersion in a tub of warm water, or standing under a stream of warm water from a showerhead.
Hydrotherapy is thought to help by relaxing the muscles, relieving pressure on the spine, and increasing blood flow to the pelvis. It may also help to shorten labour by reducing the need for pain medication and other interventions.
While there is limited research on the effectiveness of hydrotherapy during labour, many women report finding it helpful. However, if you are interested in trying hydrotherapy during labour, talk to your care provider to see if it is right for you.
Is hydrotherapy the same as delivering in water?
Hydrotherapy differs from water birth in that the delivery does not occur in the water. As the term suggests, a water birth is when a baby is born in water.
Despite the fact that labour in water can be safe, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) encourages mothers to give birth outside the tub due to the severe problems that can arise when a baby is born underwater.
The risk is that a newborn would breathe underwater, which could result in drowning or meconium aspiration (when the baby breathes in a mixture of amniotic fluid and meconium).
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also advises against water births due to the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of bacterial pneumonia. Nevertheless, despite the concerns, some mothers prefer to have water deliveries.
What happens during hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy can be used in a variety of ways, but there are three main forms that are commonly used during pregnancy:
Some women find hydrotherapy to be so appealing that they give birth in a warm tub. It is believed that floating relieves pressure on the spine and aids in the pelvic opening at a crucial time, relaxing contractions and reducing labour pains.
Water spray during labour
When you are in the middle of a contraction, a gentle mist of water may assist keep you cooler and calmer. A warm compress, specifically when applied to your lower back or pelvis, helps ease muscle tension between contractions while a cold compress can help you maintain your breath and increase your energy.
A warm bath or shower
Bathing or showering in warm water may help relax tired muscles, particularly when they expand and contract during delivery.
Can you have hydrotherapy while pregnant?
When you’re pregnant, hydrotherapy is typically safe, but you should stay away from hot tubs and really hot bath water.
To prevent dangerously high body temperatures, most experts suggest keeping the water’s temperature about 38 degrees Celsius.
Since everyone’s bodies react to heat differently, you should exit the water right away if you start to feel too hot.
Cleanliness is another important factor for safe hydrotherapy during pregnancy (and birth, for that matter), according to experts. Make sure your tub has recently been cleaned if you plan to relax in it. The same should hold true if you’re taking a swim at a hospital or birthing facility. In other settings, each patient will even have a disposable plastic cover.
Hydrotherapy is not advised if you are actively bleeding or have any ruptured membranes, but most pregnant women are generally fine with it.
Why does water help with labor pain?
In order to understand why water can help with labour pain, it is first necessary to understand how contractions work.
When a woman goes into labour, her cervix begins to dilate in order to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal. The muscles of the uterus contract and relax in a rhythmic pattern, slowly moving the baby down the birth canal.
The intensity and frequency of the contractions gradually increase as labour progresses. For many women, the pain of these contractions can be quite severe. However, water can help to ease this pain in a number of ways.
First of all, the warmth of the water relaxes the muscles, which can help to reduce the severity of the contractions.
Additionally, the weightlessness of being in water takes some of the pressure off of the back and pelvis, providing relief from some of the aches and pains associated with labour.
Finally, being in water can also help to distract from the pain by providing a sensory input that is different from the pain of labour. For all of these reasons, many women find that spending time in a warm bath or shower during labour can be helpful in managing the pain.
If the idea of labouring in water sounds good, check with your doctor to see if there are any medical concerns. Given that fetal monitoring is practically impossible in water, it is not a smart choice if you are having a high-risk pregnancy. However, if you’re in good health and don’t have any issues (such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, or preeclampsia), you might be given the go-ahead.
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