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How come we are told to take a bath in early labour, but cannot get into a birthing pool until labour is established?

(11 Posts)
TheBreastmilksOnMe Fri 10-Dec-10 22:42:35

It's something that has been puzzling me. Surely bath water would slow labour down just as much as a birthing pool? So is there a bit inbewteen where you have to avoid immersion in water?

I'd like a water birth in the hospital this time around and I am debating whether to get a birthing pool off ebay as my own bath is small and the bathroom tiny however I want to go to the hospital for the birth but would like to spend as much time at home and a birthing pool sounds like a good idea. If I am coping ok at home though I would probably want to stay put so it would be kind of unplanned.

ellesbelles79 Sat 11-Dec-10 01:03:39

its so the midwives can monitor your progress - which is more tricky if you are in the pool....

togarama Sat 11-Dec-10 01:15:09

The reason I've always seen quoted is that it can slow down or stop labour if you get in too early.

I've never seen any evidence to support this and didn't find it had much effect on the speed and progress of labour with DD. It was much more comfortable to labour in the water though...

BlooKangaWonders Sat 11-Dec-10 02:25:28

ellesbelles - not true! If midwives can't monitor w womans's progress, then no one would use a pool at all!

It's true that water can slow down labour, but not by any huge amount. If you have a birth pool, then the total immersion in water feels much better than a bath, but a bath is a good second option. Try http://www.homebirth.org.uk for more infor on water birth, even if you're planning a birth in a birth centre or hospital

NoHunIntended Sat 11-Dec-10 15:03:20

Getting into a bath really slowed down my labour. I was having regular painful contractions, took a warm bath, and they slowed down completely.

girtlush Sat 11-Dec-10 15:19:49

Getting into a bath made my contractions much stronger and closer together, almost immediatley.

I quickly decided I didn't want to use water any more

Jezabella Wed 15-Dec-10 13:15:02

I had a waterbirth with DD and went to an Active Birth/Waterbirth 'workshop' beforehand in preparation. What we were told there is that it is the depth of the water that makes all the difference (for some reason!).

When you get into a pool in labour (as opposed to a shallower bath), it triggers your body to up the level of oxytocin it produces as natural pain relief, but this surge only lasts a couple of hours. This is why you should only get into the pool when labour is well and truly on the way (5-6cm dilated, regular contractions etc.) as the idea is that the oxytocin surge will hopefully carry you through right to the end of your labour. If you get in too early, the surge dies away when you still have a long way to go in labour, and in this instance being in the pool can actually slow things down.

Getting into a shallower bath might be soothing and feel nice, but won't trigger an oxytocin surge apparently, so you don't run the risk of slowing down labour if you have a bath in the early stages, in the way that you might if you jumped in the pool at the beginning.

Um, just reading this back I realise it all sounds pretty dubious and unscientific!! Just what we were told at the workshop IIRC...

greentig3r Wed 15-Dec-10 13:29:13

Our antenatal class mentioned that they wouldn't want you to spend too much time in the water as the tissues can become waterlogged and if they needed stitching they'd have to wait a couple of hours.

TheBreastmilksOnMe Thu 16-Dec-10 14:24:36

Ok some food for thought, thanks guys. It does make sense about the pool being deeper so having a more dramatic effect on labour but I thought that it was oxytocin that was linked to contractions and not pain relief. Are you sure you don't mean endorphines, Jezabella?

craftynclothy Thu 16-Dec-10 14:30:02

My independent midwife wasn't bothered about when I used the pool. She said to use it as and when I wanted.

MumNWLondon Sat 18-Dec-10 19:59:58

Because if you are in early labour and get in the bath it doesn't matter if it slows things down?

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