Welcoming a baby into the world is one of the most memorable and rewarding life experiences—but it’s called “labor” for a reason. Labor and childbirth are challenging physical experiences and you may be interested in learning how alternative options like hydrotherapy can be used during labor and delivery to benefit a natural and calming experience.
How Hydrotherapy Is Used During Labor
Many people find water to be a relaxing environment. When it comes to childbirth and delivery, expectant mothers can choose hydrotherapy to help them cope with the anxiety, pain, and stress of labor.
Laboring while immersed in water can help you relax, especially during and in-between contractions. Studies show that reducing the stress and physical limitations associated with childbirth can help lower the chances of complications during and after delivery. In some cases, water immersion therapy can help shorten labor times, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The physiological and psychological benefits of hydrotherapy may include:
Better peace of mind: Some women report better mental clarity from the ability to relax during and in between labor contractions. Uterine contractions are often strong and unpredictable. Many women find it challenging to remain focused so they can play an active role in their baby’s birth. Hydrotherapy has been shown to increase relaxation during childbirth, contributing to better outcomes for both mom and baby.
Blood pressure management: Childbirth is an extremely stressful event for both the mind and body. It should come as no surprise that the labor and delivery process often contributes to elevated blood pressure for moms. Laboring in the water while utilizing its buoyancy helps keep blood pressure stable.
Pain and complication management: It’s no secret that giving birth can be a painful experience. Fortunately, hydrotherapy can help reduce pain levels and minimize other discomforts associated with labor and delivery, reducing the need for pain analgesics before, during and after childbirth. It may lower the risk of episiotomies and stitches as well.
Comfort and empowerment: Childbirth is one of the biggest acts of love mothers make in their lifetimes for their babies. It is during this traumatic and remarkable event that they bring forth the greatest rewards of their pregnancies. Laboring in an aquatic setting helps reduce anxiety and stress, providing laboring mothers with enhanced comfort, privacy, and control.
Shorter labor and delivery times: Hydrotherapy has been shown to reduce labor and delivery times by helping the cervix to dilate faster.
Hydrotherapy vs. Water Delivery
Though some people may use the terms interchangeably, hydrotherapy for labor and water birth are different. Some women choose hydrotherapy to labor in the water but get out of the tub for the actual delivery. Others may choose hydrotherapy for labor in addition to water delivery—completing the entire labor and delivery process in the water.
Water delivery offers moms the opportunity to bring their babies into the world while still immersed in water, in a fluid environment that’s similar to the amniotic sac and may be less traumatic for babies during delivery. Water may make the birth experience less physically and psychologically overwhelming or traumatic for moms as well.
Is Water Birth Safe?
Water birth is a suitable and safe option for expecting mothers interested in natural or alternative birth options who want to seek pain relief for labor and delivery without excessive medical intervention. It is recommended only for those with low-risk pregnancies.
During water labor and delivery, water doesn’t enter the birth canal itself. Studies have shown no evidence for increased risk of infection from water labor and delivery. The benefits far outweigh the risks when done in a medically safe and approved environment. With high standards of cleanliness and monitoring, like at West Suburban Medical Center, water birth is a safe option.
Where Is Water Birth Available?
Historically, water births were once reserved for parents who opted to deliver their children at home. Now, it’s a popular and safe option for women delivering in birthing centers. Although hospitals across the country offer a variety of labor and delivery services, water births and water immersion hydrotherapy are only offered at a select handful of birthing centers in the metro Chicago area. West Suburban Medical Center was the first medical facility in the area to offer both hydrotherapies for labor and water births.
Pregnancy and Birth Care With a Certified Nurse Midwife
Choosing the right place to give birth is one of the most important decisions expecting parents will ever make. West Suburban Medical Center makes the task easier by providing the high level of guidance, medical services and friendly, yet highly experienced care they deserve.
Families who are interested in our water birth suites enjoy the convenience of having one of our certified nurse-midwives by their side for support. The West Suburban Medical Center Midwifery program is one of the largest in the area. Our midwives are trained to provide a variety of gynecologic care and birthing services.
Want to Learn More?
Our alternative birthing center is the perfect place for expectant parents to deliver their babies safely in a home-like environment. Each water birthing suite has a queen-sized bed and a television, refrigerator, and additional amenities.
We aim to make childbirth an empowering experience for expectant moms everywhere. We provide safe and holistic birth options to make the labor and delivery process less scary, confusing, stressful, and painful so mothers can remain active participants throughout one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.
West Suburban Medical Center has been voted as one of the top three Best Maternity Hospitals in the 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Survey. It’s also a Newsweek 2021 Best Maternity Care Hospital. Our birth center offers comprehensive obstetrical care with the additional support of Lurie Children’s neonatal medical experts.
To find a certified nurse midwife, schedule a tour of our birthing center, or sign up for a prenatal class, call us at 708-763-6518.