Ahhh....the birth pool.......one of my personal favorite tools for coping with labor. When you find yourself in the middle of labor...you know when you are really IN it....and there is nothing else you can do...absolutely no other position to try....a pool of warm soothing water is AMAZING!!!
We don't always know ahead of time if we will feel like using a pool, or if our labor will allow for it. For some women, the idea of water does not sound good at all....they would prefer to be grounded and rooted with gravity. Sometimes labor moves so quickly we find ourselves hunkering down in one spot and the thought of changing anything is frightening. Our bodies have these amazingly subtle yet clear ways of telling us what to do. The urges and instincts we feel during labor are important to follow in order to connect our mind and our body with our baby's own intelligence of how he wants to be born. If the thought of using water during labor appeals to you then I urge you to consider using a birth pool. Your bath tub and shower at home can be good too, but the depth that a birth pool allows is really worth all the hassle that goes into setting it up. Birth pools are great for home birthing and for laboring at home before traveling to your birth location.
Read on to find out my top 5 reasons to use a birth pool during labor.
1. Buoyancy: There is really nothing like stepping into a warm pool of water after several hours of intense contractions. The downward pressure and pull of gravity your body is experiencing can take it's toll, and stepping into a buoyant pool of water literally counteracts that gravitational heaviness. It's sort of like your body is being supported and suspended in every direction and although gravity is still in play during a contraction your ability to relax in between is greatly increased.
2. Mobility: Being buoyant makes is easier to shift positions. Sometimes in the throws of labor it becomes very challenging to find that comfortable nook to hang out in a have several contractions, and shifting an inch or two one way can make a huge difference. Holding up your body weight while trying to find comfort can be exhausting and so the support of the water can really help save your energy and increase your range of motion. Imagine sitting and reclining in a resting phase and then quickly floating to kneeling with your arms draped over the side of the pool effortlessly (well...almost). The water definitely aids in quicker and more supported position changes.
3, Warmth and Relaxation: The second you step into a warm bath it's hard not to relax. If you can imagine what a heating pad or warm bath does for you during strong menstrual cramps you can easily see how warm water can ease tight muscles during labor. Relaxation helps labor progress. It encourages the opening of the passage way which increases the flow of labor hormones.
4. Softens tissues: Being in warm water has a softening effect on the skin and tissues of the perineum. While there is no guarantee that water can help prevent tearing during birth, it can help your skin and tissue be more elastic and pliable during pushing.
5. Moves things along...or not: Using a pool during labor can either slow things down or speed things up. If your looking to get some rest during your labor (maybe labor starts at night or maybe you are experiencing a really long labor), the tub can help relax you enough to the point that you are able to rest, sleep or even shut your labor down for a time. On the other hand, once you have dilated a bit and have established a strong labor pattern the pool can help speed things along by allowing your body to relax even farther into the process.
As will all things relating to birth, you should use your intuition. You can't predict how your labor will unfold, but you can prepare to utilize this amazing tool for your labor!