I’m writing a series of posts looking at some labor basics that are useful for both moms and birth partners to know. First off, Hydrotherapy.
Really, hydrotherapy’s just a fancy word for the idea that water can make us feel better. So how will it help in labor? Here are three ways:
1. Drink it. If a woman becomes dehydrated in labor, her contractions will become more painful and be less effective. The uterus is a big muscle and it needs fluids to work, so without adequate intake a woman’s labor progresses more slowly. Also, if a woman is dehydrated, a baby can begin to look ‘flat,’ or nonreactive, on a monitor – which makes staff and parents nervous. How can you tell if a laboring mom is drinking enough? She should be going to the bathroom frequently and her pee should be light in color, not a dark amber.
2. Soak in it. In early labor, sitting in a tub can feel wonderful (just make sure that her waters are unbroken). A warm bath at home can often take a woman down many notches on the pain scale. As well as offering relaxation, this relief can be just what’s needed to help mom get a little sleep before she leaves for the hospital, if that’s where she’s planning to give birth – relaxing can also help speed things up and move the process along.
3. Stand in it. Once you’ve made the transition from home to hospital, you’re unlikely to find a tub to soak in. But nearly all hospitals have showers available for moms. Like sitting in a bath, taking a shower can offer serious pain relief – a laboring mom can profitably spend hours in there, going in and out several times. Showers can also be used even if her bag of waters is broken, and most modern wireless monitors are waterproof – which lets women shower even when they need to be monitored.
You’ll find much more information on labor and on how to be a great labor supporter in our book, Deliver! A concise guide to helping the woman you love through labor.
Also, check out our recommended resources for books and other information that you might find useful.