Natural Pain Relief: Showering & Bathing during Labor
During labor, immersion in warm water is one of the easiest and most effective relaxation and pain relief techniques. If you are giving birth in a hospital, you should have a shower and large bathtub in the bathroom of your room. If you are giving birth at home, you will have your shower or bathtub, or you could rent or buy a birth pool.
Warm water provides natural pain relief in many ways:
~ Heat relaxes tension in your muscles and prevents tearing
~ Increases the hormone oxytocin, called the “love hormone,” which is released when you hug or kiss a loved one, when you breastfeed, make love, give birth, and hold your baby. During labor, oxytocin is one of the hormones that stimulates contractions, so the more oxytocin the better!
~ Decreases the stress hormones catecholamine and adrenaline
~ Immersion in a large bathtub or birth pool will make your body feel light and buoyant, so you can float and move around more which provides pain relief and helps your baby descend
~ Feels soothing and comforting
During the first stage of labor, showering is most beneficial. Standing or sitting on a stool in the shower, using a hand-held shower head, you or your partner can direct the spray to whatever part of your body needs relaxation or relief from pain. For safety and labor progress it is recommended that you use the shower until you are 5 cm dilated, then once you are in active labor you can be fully immersed in warm water.
Relaxing in a bath or birth pool is most beneficial when the water is deep (up to your shoulders) and at body temperature (approximately 98 F). To get the most benefit it is best that you get out of the water every hour for ½ hour.
I hope these tips on using water for natural pain relief will be of support to you!