In an article on Babble this week, a new study investigating the safety of hospital water births was highlighted. I’ll be interested to see that study unfold as this has been an area full of debate. However, there is plenty of good evidence for the use of water as a comfort measure during labor.
According to a Cochrane Review of Pain Management for Women in Labor, water immersion during labor provides pain relief and greater satisfaction with childbirth the experience. My own experiences have confirmed this on an individual level. I don’t know how I would have managed without showers and baths during my births. I remember saying things like “I can handle this!” once I got into the shower or the tub. I also remember progressing from 6cm dilated to 10cm and pushing after spending only 15 minutes immersed in warm water. Water is incredibly effective at relaxing your muscles and helping you dilate more comfortably and calmly.
A few more tidbits on water during pregnancy, labor, and birth:
Jill Cohen describes a water birth from a midwife’s perspective here.