August 21, 2017
As labor doulas, one of our favorite tools to use for comfort during labor is the tub or shower. In early labor, we use water for relaxation and rest. In later labor, we use water for relaxation and progress! Hydrotherapy can be so effective during the later part of labor that we sometimes refer to it as "the midwives epidural."
Some women enjoy the water so much, they choose to not just use it during labor, but during pushing and delivery as well. We call a birth that happens in the tub a "water birth." Babies born in the water do not take their first breath until they are brought to the surface of the tub and into the open air. Prior to that moment, they are still receiving oxygen through the placenta and umbilical cord immediately after birth.
In the Cincinnati and Dayton region, there are many options for using hydrotherapy during labor as a comfort technique. However, there are only a few current options for a full water birth experience:
Miami Valley Hospital & Family Beginnings Birth Center in DaytonMiami Valley Hospital South in CentervilleAtrium Medical Center & Natural Beginnings Birth Center in Middletown (halfway between Dayton & Cincinnati)Good Samaritan Hospital in DaytonHomebirth
You might notice that almost everyone on this list is in the Dayton area! Currently there are no hospitals or birth centers in Cincinnati offering water birth.
While the majority of hospitals in this region do not support a full water birth at this time, every hospital has some sort of policy for using the tub or shower during labor! All labor and delivery units have showers in your private room, and many hospitals have rooms with tubs, or the option to set up a portable tub in your room for full immersion. When a tub isn't available, the shower can be just as wonderful, and many women enjoy the ability to stay upright, and the rhythmic pressure of the water falling on their back.
If you want to use hydrotherapy during labor, it's a good idea to discuss with your care provider ahead of time their policy, as well as ask on your hospital tour the general hospital policy. Many places will ask you to get out of the tub or shower after 8cm dilation, while others will let you stay in until you start pushing. Still others do not permit anyone to labor in the tub after their water has broken. It also depends on your risk status, how labor is progressing, and what medications you are using, so it's a good idea to find out what to expect in different scenarios!
Here are a few of the local hospitals that do not offer water birth, but do have tubs that might be an option during labor:
When you go on your hospital tour, ask to see the tubs. Some of the portable tubs have rigid sides, and other hospitals use a blow up pool (like the one pictured above), similar to the tubs used by midwives at home births. You should also ask how many tubs are available, and if your hospital doesn't offer tubs or has a limited number available, you can also ask if they will permit you to bring your own blow up pool and pool kit!