Whether you use the water to labour in or actually have a water birth there are ways you can use the bath to your best advantage. Be aware that the shower will not have the same effects as a bath in regards to altering the pattern of your contractions.
When to get in
Length of time in the bath
Mother has a temperature
Other pain relief
All below or above'
Baby at birth
When to get in
Not all women's bodies will respond to the bath in the same way. The good thing about the bath is you can always get out if it is not suiting you. Deciding when to get in the bath will depend on what you want to achieve.
As a guide:
- If you are in prelabour or the early 1st phase of labour (less than 3 to 4 cm dilated), getting into the bath can either relax you enough to get you into a more established labour pattern with stronger more regular contractions (usually for an hour or two) OR give you some pain relief and either stop or slow the contractions enough to give you a break for a while or help you sleep afterwards.
- If you are in the active phase of the 1st stage (more than 3 to 4 cms dilated), then the bath is likely to relax you, give you some pain relief and often accelerate the labour, possibly allowing you to progress to the second stage or pushing phase, within an hour or two. It is our experience that most women instinctively 'know' when it is time to use the bath, usually when the labour becomes established and they are seeking some pain relief. With this in mind it is not always essential to do an internal vaginal examination to give you 'permission' to get into the bath.
- If you are in the pushing phase (or move into the pushing phase while in the bath), the warm water will often give you 'all around' pain relief, and possibly increase the relaxation of your perineum to stretch for the birth. In some cases the mother needs gravity to help bring the baby down. If you or your caregiver feel that you are not progressing, or the baby is not coming down, you should get out of the bath to push for a while, ideally standing, squatting, on a birth stool or on the toilet, at least until the baby's head can start to be seen. Some women will stay where they are until the baby is born, others will opt to get back in the bath for the actual birth.
Last revised: Wednesday, 12 December 2012
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.