Going With the Flow: How Water Helps During Birth

Going With the Flow: How Water Helps During Birth

Are you pregnant, and feeling stressed about going through labor? You’re normal. Most pregnant women are apprehensive, if not outright fearful about contractions, especially about active labor, when contractions become more intense. On the positive end, thankfully there are many ways to reduce the feeling of the contractions, making labor much easier for women to handle. One of the most effective ways to ease contractions is by using water.

Here’s the low-down on how to use water to help you during the birth process.

Why Water Helps During Labor

There are several reasons why water helps you during labor, as follows: 

  1. Warmth. Like placing a tea directly into your contractions, water is relaxing. And relaxation is a #1 way to reduce the feeling of contractions. An easy way to maintain water’s warmth on you is by using hot water bottles. Have 2-3 on hand, an electric kettle, and someone to refill the hot water bottles just before they cool down. You can usually purchase hot water bottles at a local drug store.
  2. Pressure. Get into the shower, or into a home whirlpool, and put the water pressure right onto the spots you feel the contractions. Similar to massage, the water pressure can provide you relief.
  3. Sound. Even on a regular day, the sound of running water can make us feel relaxed – likewise during labor. Going through contractions is rhythmic, and the sound of water induces the rhythms conducive to easing contractions.
  4. Buoyancy. If you have a large bath where you are laboring, take advantage! You’ll have the benefit of floating, whereby your own more light-weight feel also makes the contractions feel lighter. (Note: If your waters broke, you might be at higher risk for infection if you get into a bath or pool. Therefore, just in case, use a shower instead of a bath, and be in contact with your care provider about your specific status.)
  5. Hydration. By keeping yourself well-hydrated, you are better prepared to handle contractions. Therefore, drink to thirst  – be it with water, juice, or tea. Have the people with you remind you to drink. And here’s a tip: Bring straws so you can easily sip between contractions while someone holds the drink for you. And specifically, if your waters break before you’re ready to push, it’s critical that you drink plentifully in order to replenish the amniotic fluid for your baby, still in utero.
  6. Cool-Down. Many women sweat during the birth process – it’s a workout. What better way to cool down than with a wet washcloth?

Safety Concerns

a) Temperature. If the temperature is too high, and is applied to the uterus, it could lead to a hemorrhage.  Rule of thumb is no hotter than a normal hot shower, however, ask your doctor about the recommended water temperature. And in any case, practically speaking, you don’t want to burn yourself – seriously, who needs another thing to handle while you’re in labor?

b) Second Birth and Beyond. Warm, flowing water can speed up a labor. Read: Getting into the shower might mean you give birth in the shower, especially for 2nd births and beyond. Therefore, you might want to stick with just hot water bottles until you get to the hospital or birth center.

Planning Ahead

Now that you know about the benefits of water during labor, plan ahead when packing your bag for the hospital or birth center. Include hot water bottles, bottled drinks, straws, tea bags, and disposable hot-drink cups. Be sure to bring shower shoes, and your support team (partner, doula, etc.) might even wish to bring a swimsuit in order to get right in there with you!

We wish you the easiest possible birth process. If using the above tips about using water during labor can help you, all the better. After all, your baby’s surrounded with water during the entire pregnancy, so by using water to birth your baby, you might even be reenacting a bit of the womb for yourself.