Nebraska Medicine offers hydrotherapy and water birth for families under our care. Hydrotherapy is the use of water to help relieve discomfort during labor, while water birth is when the delivery of a baby occurs in a tub or pool of warm water. Many people find that sitting or floating in water during labor helps them relax and manage their pain. Hydrotherapy may be an option for patients who have not yet received IV medication or an epidural.
If you are interested in hydrotherapy or water birth, you should speak with your midwife or doctor during your prenatal appointments to determine if you are a candidate and to discuss the risks and benefits.
What are the benefits of hydrotherapy and water birth?
Hydrotherapy can help you cope with pain, anxiety, and stress during labor. The water allows you to move around more easily and may improve fetal positioning.
Potential benefits of hydrotherapy during labor include:
- Enhanced relaxation and comfort
- Safe and effective pain management
- Reduced need for pain medication
- Increased sense of privacy during labor
You may labor in water even if you do not plan on, or are not eligible for, a water birth. Water birth is a safe option for healthy, low-risk patients seeking pain relief without medication or excessive medical intervention.
Potential benefits of water births include:
- Decreased pain and need for anesthesia
- Shorter labors
- Less risk of severe perineal lacerations or episiotomy
- Increased chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth
- Higher patient satisfaction
Is water birth safe?
In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists gave a joint statement expressing their opinion that there is good evidence to support the use of hydrotherapy in labor, but less evidence about birth in the water. At that time, they recommended that birth occur "on land." Since then, multiple studies have shown the benefits of water birth with trained professionals.
Potential risks of water births include:
- Slips or falls
- You could become dehydrated or overheated
- The umbilical cord could snap
- The baby could breathe in water
Our midwives have provided hydrotherapy during labor as a pain management technique for years with excellent patient outcomes. Nebraska Medicine offers water labor and birth only at Nebraska Medical Center. This ensures you and your baby receive the highest level of care in any situation. We are committed to helping you understand the risks of water birth so that you can make an informed decision about your birthing experience.
Can I have a water birth?
Only some people are candidates for water birth. You may be a candidate for a water birth if you have a low-risk, full-term pregnancy with a single baby. Some patients who are not eligible for a water birth may still be able to utilize hydrotherapy during labor.
Our nurse midwives can help you decide whether water birth is safe for you and your child.
What to expect
Once you are at the hospital, share your birth plan and preferences with your nurse. Our care team will assess your eligibility for hydrotherapy and work with you to provide your best birth experience.
Hydrotherapy and water births occur in our labor suites. Once in labor, you can use the built-in whirlpool tub for pain relief and relaxation. If you meet the criteria for water birth, you may deliver your baby in a built-in tub or a portable, soft-sided birthing pool.
Why you should choose Nebraska Medicine
Our nurse midwives are experts at low-tech, high-touch family-centered birth experiences. We are excited to offer hydrotherapy and water births as an option for your personalized care. Hydrotherapy and water birth deliveries take place in our modern, fully equipped labor suites. Water birth in a hospital setting gives patients a chance to have a more natural birth while having quick access to care if a complication arises during delivery. As part of Nebraska Medicine, our midwives can access a wealth of specialists and resources if you need them.