Using water as a relaxation or comfort technique is awesome! Most women absolutely love it. It has often been called “Mother Nature’s epidural” or “Aquadural.” Some care providers will not allow their patients to use the tub as a comfort technique if her membranes have been released but most now know that the risk of infection is not increased by getting into water. Because the relaxation of being in water works so well it can sometimes relax labor away if used too early in the labor process. A good time to use the tub is 6-7 cm, when labor is advanced enough not to stop and when a woman is preparing for the transitional stage of labor. Not all hospital rooms have tubs available so make it a point to ask for a room with a tub on your birth plan or as you check into the hospital. Some birthing centers have incredible tubs designed especially for labor. Some facilities may have a deep inflatable tub they can set up in the labor and delivery room. Most women like the water to be fairly warm but it is common for them to enjoy slightly cooler water temperatures as birth becomes closer. Because touch is a powerful relaxation tool during labor the tub works amazingly well because the warm water can “touch” a woman’s body in many more places than the hands of a support person. The moistures and warmth can also bring increased blood flow to the pelvic floor and prepare the tissue for the stretching they will do. As a woman is in the tub it is important for her to remain hydrated and keep cool. Her body will likely warm up and cool water to drink as well as cold cloths on her forehead and neck will help keep her from overheating. Sometimes just standing up in the tub for a moment can help her cool off. Essential oils can be used in the water to provide further comfort. A partner or support person can pour water over the belly if the woman finds comfort in that. Low lighting and music or the reading of relaxation scripts can also bring added comfort. Many hospitals do not allow women to actually give birth in the tub but at birth centers and home births giving birth in a tub is very common. The use of water in labor can be an excellent tool of relaxation, check to see if it is available to you.
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