Often in our society, one of the main topics surrounding labour and birth is pain and pain relief. Women often worry about how they will cope with contractions and delivery. For some women, coping with labour may include medical forms of pain relief including narcotics, laughing gas, or an epidural. However, these medications come with side effects for mom, baby or both, and can lead to even more interventions. With that said, these medications may be useful in situations when we are trying to preserve vaginal delivery such as in long, non-progressing labours or when intervention are already underway such as during induction of labour.
So what about natural ways of coping with labour and birth? What did women do before modern day medications? A great option is hydrotherapy.
Hydrotherapy during labour and birth refers to the use of warm water to ease pain, whether it be in the means of shower or tub. Many of us already use hydrotherapy on a day to day basis. For example, think how a warm shower or bath helps to ease and relax our bodies after a long day of work or after a vigorous workout.
A popular example of hydrotherapy is water birth. A water birth means at least part of your labour and the delivery happen while you are in a birth pool filled with warm water. The baby is born submerged under water and takes it’s first breath once the baby is brought out of the water and often onto the mothers chest for skin to skin contact. Some women prefer to labour in the tub and get out for pushing and delivery. There are many benefits to labouring in water and additional benefits to delivering your baby in water.
So what are the benefits of water birth?
– Reduces blood pressure
– Promotes relaxation physically and mentally
– Helps ease contraction pain and reduces the need for drugs and interventions
– Gives mother more feeling of control
– Helps with movement and changing positions more easily than in bed.
– Water provides counter pressure to the perineum, hips and back.
– Can speed up labor
– Encourages an easier birth for mother and a gentler welcome for baby
– improved circulation and therefore better blood flow to vaginal tissues making them stretchy and less likely to tear.
If you are interested in water birth you may want to consider your options for water birth in our community.
Health Sciences North has a shower in each private delivery room for labouring in. There is also one jacuzzi tub. However, it is not permitted to give birth in the shower or tub at the hospital.
Our clinic offers easy to set-up, inflatable birth tubs for labouring and giving birth in water at home. The tubs are spacious and allow for freedom of movement while also providing access at all sides for you, your support people and your midwives. We require that you use a disposable tub liner to keep the tub sanitary for future use. We provide the liner and there is a small fee to cover the cost.
If you are interested in water birth or have any questions, talk to your midwives about your options and considerations to prepare for a safe water birth for you and your baby.