by Liza Janda
Water in labor is also known as an “Aqua-dural”. In other words, for many women in labor, submerging their bodies in water can have three benefits:
More Effective Contractions
1. Prep your tub before labor begins:
This is a job for your coach/birth-partner/husband. Clean the tub with bleach. Then clean the bleach out by thoroughly washing with soap and water.
2. Get in the tub once your contractions are well established in active labor:
Contractions should be about 3-4 minutes apart lasting at least 45-60 seconds long. Or do a test. If you get in the water and your contractions slow down, get out and move around. You could also spend 10 minutes in the water and ten minutes out moving around, using gravity and position changes to help your baby descend. If you get in the water in labor and contractions speed up, that’s great! Stay put for a while.
3. If you don’t have a tub at home the shower can work well too.
You can always rent or buy a birth pool. You can even buy an inflatable pool for kids and use that for labor. Or just stand in the shower. A local midwife calls it an “Aqua-dural” because submerging yourself in water during labor reduces pain significantly without the negative side effects of an epidural. The relaxation that happens in the tub helps to speed up your labor. The water level should be to just above your chest, so you fully submerge your belly.
4. The water temperature should be comfortable-somewhere between 95-102 F
“Aaaaahhhh!” is what you should say when you get in the water in labor. . You don’t want to start getting chilled and you don’t want to overheat either. Let your body be the judge of what’s comfortable for you.
5. Move Around!
Try different comfort positions in labor, just like when you are out of the water: hands and knees, squatting; lying on your side, sitting or kneeling leaning forward over the edge of the tub, leaning against the back of the tub, or just sitting upright. Change positions when you get back in the tub after you go to the toilet.
Have someone feed you. Just relax and let them treat you like a queen, spooning food into your mouth, or holding a water bottle while you drink from a straw. This is your time to be pampered and cared for while you work hard to birth your baby. Eating and drinking can shorten your labor by up to 90 minutes. Eat easy to digest foods: scrambled eggs, broth, soup, toast with honey, applesauce, or anything that appeals to you.
Drink at least 8 ounces of water, preferably with electrolytes, every hour. Empty your bladder once every hour too. Staying hydrated helps maintain your energy, blood pressure, heart rate, comfort-level. All these factors can help your baby stay healthy and safe too.
8. Use Essential Oils
Add some drops of aromatherapy oil to the bath water in labor, but only if you like the smell. Lavender is my favorite to help moms relax in labor. Before labor begins, go to the store and test the different scents. Choose what feels good to you. Lavender, chamomile, lemon grass, peppermint, Ylang Ylang, geranium are all good to calm and relax you in labor.
So go ahead, relax and enjoy your labor!
When you are recovering take some time for yourself to soak in a postpartum bath. Your perineum will thank you.