Updated: Oct 23, 2018
When we talk about pain relief in labour the first thing that women usually think is epidural. Yes, epidural is great but there are lot of other methods that a woman can use during labour and birth before having an epidural. One option is water!
So let’s see a few ways how we can use water:
· In a water bottle/towel (especially on the lower back)
· On a flannel/gauze on the vagina during delivery
· In a bath mixed with aromatherapy
· In the birthing pool
Are you not sure that water can be used as a pain relief?
If you take a moment you will realise that you are already using water to relax at home. Have you ever noticed that sometimes you stay ages under the shower or in the bath as you are enjoying the nice warm water? It works the same during labour and birth.
If you still doubt it, here is some evidence for you:
· There is evidence that water immersion in labour offers women the most effective non-epidural analgesia and the opportunity to labour in water is recommended for pain relief (NICE 2007).
· Immersion in water has also been associated with a lower risk of transfer to a higher risk labour ward, increased change of a vaginal birth and reduced intrapartum caesarian section rate (Lukasse et al 2014).
So what are we waiting for? Let’s start to use water more during labour and delivery!
If you plan to have a baby in a hospital usually there are few criteria that you need to meet if you want to use the birthing pool:
1. You need to be 37 or more weeks’ of gestation
2. You need to be in established labour. That means that you need to have regular, strong contraction. It will be advisable to be at least 5 cm dilated. Indeed, early immersion (before 5 cm) has been associated with a prolongation of labour and increased need of epidural and oxytocin (Eriksson et al 1997).
3. If you had diamorphine or pethidine you will need to wait at least 2 hours since the administration before going into the pool.
4. Liquor clear or non-significant meconium. It is important that when the your water breaks you check the colour and you report it to your midwife
Every hospital is different. Therefore check at your local hospital the criteria for water birth.
Few more things that you need to be aware:
· You and your baby will have regular observations while you are in the pool. Baby heart rate will be checked every 15 minutes during labour and every 5 minutes during birth. You will have regular observation like temperature, blood pressure and pulse.
· The pool temperature will not be above 37.5 degrees
· You will be encourage to have regular fluid intake (isotonic drinks are preferable to plain water NICE 2007) to maintain hydration.
· You will be encouraged to pass urine regularly at least every 2-4 hours.
· In the hospital pool you will not be allowed to put aromatherapy in the water. (You can in the room bath but not in the pool). You can use aromatherapy on a tissue/swab if you like.
Your midwife will know all of these things, so don’t worry you don’t have to remember!
So what do you need to do?
You need to jump in the water and enjoy the cuddle that it gives you!
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