DOULA DIARIES – The Benefits of a Birthing Bath By Rachel Schwartzman, ND, Doula #wellbeingwednesday

This first time mama had everything organized before the big day. She had taken prenatal classes, found a birth doula and read all the books. She called me at 6 pm, and asked “can I be peeing myself and not know it? I am all wet.” “No.” I said. “You are not peeing yourself. It is the start of labour.” It is common for a small tear to occur at the top of the bag of waters or amniotic sac. Women will not get a huge gush like when the bag completely breaks, but a slow trickle. This mama began walking to help encourage the labour process. She was 38 weeks.

At 9 pm she went to the hospital to get assessed. Her contractions were 5 minutes apart, and getting intense. We knew the baby was coming. I met them in triage at 11 pm. She could not lie or sit on the bed. With each contraction she squatted on the floor swivelling her hips. The low pelvic pains were intense and she had tons of back pressure. I took a rolled sheet, put it below her belly and pulled gently with each contraction to help ease the discomfort. It helped. The nurse came to assess her and she was 3 cm. She was feeling good.

We got into our delivery room and I started to draw a bath. Water is very soothing for labouring women and because she had such intense back pain I was hoping the water would help to calm the sensation. The lights were dimmed as she entered the bath. She laboured for hours in the water, taking each contraction like a wave of an ocean. She was checked several hours later and was 8 cm. So much progress was made in that bath water.

She was exhausted. It was 4 am. She was starting to contemplate pain relief. The final part of labour can move quickly and we needed that to happen to maintain a drug-free labour. We decided to labour for an hour and then reassess. She was still 8 cm. She got an epidural and we all slept for a few hours. At 7 am she was fully dilated. Her body opened to accept her baby so beautifully. She pushed hard for 45 minutes and then welcomed her baby into her arms.

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