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Water Birth Guidelines

Using the tub for labor and birth is another comfort method available for use during labor. Entering the water is often the number one pain reliever for labor and birth.

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Laboring in warm water has many advantages:

  • Decreases stress and pain
  • Soothes all muscles
  • Improves blood supply to uterus with more effective contractions and better oxygen to baby
  • Soothes the perineal tissues for better elasticity and comfort
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps relax women between contractions

The best time to enter the tub is in active labor, generally anytime after 4 centimeters dilation. When back labor is present women can enter the tub sooner. Once you are in the tub, you may exit any time.

After a maximum of two hours in tub, you will need to leave the tub to cool off and allow the nurses to refresh the water. Water temperature is anywhere from 97 to 100 degrees.

Partners may enter the tub as well if that is the couple's wish.

Different positions are encouraged in labor, and the tub allows easier movement due to buoyancy and weightlessness.

The choice of having the jets on is up to the woman, but the jets cannot be on during the pushing phase of labor.

What to wear: sports bra, bathing suit top, t-shirt or nothing at all.

Women are encouraged to bring mineral or vitamin water or Gatorade to drink, as long periods in warm water can make you thirsty. Fans are available and cool, wet compresses are also used.

Laboring women will not be allowed to use the tub if the following conditions are present:

  • Fever or infection
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding
  • Amniotic fluid is thickly stained with meconium
  • Fetal distress as seen with heart rate monitoring
  • Anticipated birth complications
  • Twins, breech or other malpresentations
  • "Gentle Birth Choices" by Barbara Harper
  • "Choosing Waterbirth" by Lakshmi Bartram and Michel Odent