What is Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy is defined as the use of water for physical or psychological benefits. Colloquially, this therapy is using water to make you feel good. The use of water therapy has become extremely popular and more commonplace during pregnancy, labor, and birth due to its many benefits. This article explores the different ways and situations in which pregnant women can use hydrotherapy.

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What Is Hydrotherapy During Labor?

The rest of the world has known about the benefits of hydrotherapy during labor for a couple decades. It’s catching on in the U.S., with many hospitals offering two options for hydrotherapy during labor — showering or immersion hydrotherapy. There are also hospitals that allow water births in low risk pregnancies.


In this form of water therapy, the labor room is equipped with a seated shower and removable shower head. The woman can either sit or stand, and use the shower head to spray herself with warm water. Her labor partner can be seated next to her for added comfort and support.

Immersion Hydrotherapy

Immersion hydrotherapy requires the labor room to have a deep soaking tub. The water is deep enough to cover most of the woman’s abdomen. The warm water provides relaxation during and between contractions, buoyancy, and freedom of movement.

Immersion Hydrotherapy Benefits

There are numerous physiological and psychological benefits to hydrotherapy during labor:

  • Buoyancy provides mobility and ease of movement
  • The water relaxes the mother during and between contractions
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Provides safe and effective pain management
  • Gives the mother a sense of control in a private environment
  • Facilitates cervical dilation

Am I a Candidate for Immersion Hydrotherapy?

Certain pregnancies or situations in labor that require increased surveillance of the woman or baby make immersion hydrotherapy unsafe. This therapy is not used when there are any signs of maternal or fetal distress. This therapy is not an option when the mother is using epidural anesthesia, some IV medicine infusions, and medications for pain.

What About Water Therapy During Pregnancy?

Water therapy is very effective during pregnancy. Whether it’s a water aerobics class to get some exercise or simply relaxing in a pool, water can be quite therapeutic and relaxing for pregnant women. The only no-no is extremely hot water, as that can be harmful to the pregnancy. Otherwise, water therapy can be a part of your pregnancy.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Water Therapy During My Pregnancy?

The benefits of water therapy during pregnancy can be unique to you. But there are some general benefits that just about every pregnant woman can smile about.

  • Provides instant relaxation
  • Reduces back pain
  • Minimizes pressure on knees and corresponding pain
  • Reduces the pain from shifting pelvic muscles
  • Takes away the awkwardness felt when walking around with a big belly
  • Is rejuvenating and increases energy
  • Buoyancy takes away the clumsiness of carrying a baby
  • Makes exercise (such as water aerobics) less awkward and difficult
  • Lets the woman focus on herself, particularly late in the pregnancy

Is Hydrotherapy Safe During Pregnancy?

Water therapy of any kind is great when you’re pregnant for all the reasons above and some that may be just for you. The only thing that is unsafe is heat. This is because a pregnant woman needs to maintain a body temperature under 101 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, hot tubs are not to be used while you’re pregnant. For your relaxation and safety of your pregnancy, simply keep the water soothingly warm, but not hot.

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