Can I Shower During Active Labor?

Bathing During Labor

Using showers or tubs during active labor can help you avoid an epidural. This is not to be confused with birthing in the tub. Will your care provider allow the use of hydrotherapy during labor?


Can I shower or use a tub during active labor?


Hydrotherapy— the use of showers or tubs in active labor— helps women to avoid an epidural. Being in the water reduces the perception of “pain” during your birthing waves, is soothing due to the feeling of buoyancy,  can help to stimulate and progress your labor due to the lack of stress hormones released and the nipple stimulation that showers can provide to increase natural secretion of oxytocin.  It also provides general relaxation and the ability to assume floating forward leaning positions in the tub that are ideal for the latter stages of labor (i.e. froggy leg position, which opens the pelvis and provides more space for baby to descend.)  There is always an “ahhhhh” moment immersing into a warm tub, and really helps to bridge you toward the end of the latter active stage into being fully dilated and being ready to push.  The tub is frequently referred to as the “aquadural” instead of the “epidural.”

Sources:

  • Benfield, R., Herman, J., Katz, V., Wilson, S., Davis, J. (2001). Hydrotherapy in Labor.; Research in Nursing and Health. 57-65.
  • Brown, C. (1982). Therapeutic effects of bathing during labor. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 27, 13-16.
  • Cluett ER, Burns E. Immersion in water in labour and birth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD000111. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000111.pub3.
  • Eckert, K., Turnbull, D., MacLennan, A. (2001). Immersion in Water in the First Stage of Labor: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Birth. 28:2, 84-92.
  • Evidence Based Clinical Practice Guideline: Clearing murky waters: An evidence-based clinical practice guideline for hydrotherapy in labor and waterbirth: Michelle Hileman.
  • Ginesi L, Niescierowicz R. Neuroendocrinology and birth 2: the role of oxytocin. Br J Midwifery 1998;6:791–6. ⇦
  • Global Maternal/Child Health Association (1998). Procedures and protocols for warm water immersion for labor and birth. Retrieved July 5, 2003 from http://www.waterbirth.org.
  • J Nurs Scholarsh. 2002;34(4):347-52. Hydrotherapy in labor.