What is hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is the use of a heated water bath by a laboring woman. Soaking in a pool of water creates a sense of weightlessness and has been found to promote relaxation and comfort. Hydrotherapy has also been found to "speed up" the later stages of labor due to its relaxing effects and stimulation from the warm water. Hydrotherapy may also reduce the need for medications in labor.
When can you use hydrotherapy?
If you do not have any contraindications for the use of the tub, and you are greater than 37 weeks gestation as well as greater than 4 cms. dilated, then you may use the tub with your physician’s approval. You will be asked to exit the tub every hour for at least 20 minutes to assess your progress in labor.
Are there any reasons that would prevent you from using hydrotherapy?
The tub is not for everybody. If you are having twins, a baby’s presentation is unusual, if the baby’s heart rate is not normal or if there is any complication in the pregnancy, you should not use the tub.
Are there any risks associated with hydrotherapy?
Hyperthermia (an increased temperature of the mother or baby) can sometimes increase fatigue, and could slow the labor. Signs of hyperthermia are monitored constantly and if there were any signs of this occurring, such as a fever or an increase in the baby's heart rate, you would be asked to leave the tub immediately.