Any guy who’s been with a woman in labor knows about water’s almost magical ability to relax her. In this guest post, Jenny Willis talks about some of the other benefits of water therapy.
Water therapy can have many great benefits for pregnant women. Every woman has a different experience during pregnancy, and many women have radically different experiences each time they are pregnant. Typical pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue and body aches can be treated with hydrotherapy, as well as more extreme symptoms such as pain from shifting pelvic muscles. Doctors, mid wives, and birthing centers all agree that water can offer many soothing benefits for pregnant women, but no extremely hot temperatures as it can be harmful to the pregnancy.
It is dangerous for pregnant women to maintain a body temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. For that reason using a hot tub is not recommended during pregnancy. Yet, there is nothing harmful with enjoying slightly warm water in the bath tub or water in an outdoor pool that has been warmed by the sun. Many pregnant women find increased comfort simply by relaxing in the water, regardless of it being warm or not. Not only does the water help relax and soothe aching muscles, it takes away the awkwardness many feel walking around with a big belly. The buoyancy of the water reduces the clumsiness of suddenly carrying so much weight on the front of one’s body.
Fatigue, especially noticeable in the first and third trimesters, can also be remedied with water therapy. A dip in the water can be rejuvenating and increase energy. Exercise also has reenergizing effects, and water aerobics classes for pregnant women are an easy way to stay fit while pregnant. Some women find that their pregnant bodies make exercising awkward and difficult due to increased spinal pressure and imbalance. By bringing the workout into the water, many women note a drastic relief of pressure due to the buoyancy.
Studies have shown that women who participate in water therapy or water aerobics while pregnant have better control of weight gain, less edema, reduced back pain, and interestingly they also are less prone to suffer from postpartum depression. Pregnant women that choose to find relief in the water note that in addition to the physical relief, they value this as an important way to focus on themselves before the arrival of the baby. There are many links between physical wellbeing and mental health, but it is also important to note the link between women who take care of themselves and women who have lower reported postpartum depression.
Maintaining physical activity during pregnancy is a big help in getting back into shape once the baby comes, and water aerobics is a low impact way of staying physically fit during pregnancy. Exercising during pregnancy also helps in the delivery room. Fitpregnancy.com reports on one study’s findings “that prenatal water aerobics regulars were 58 percent less likely to request pain medication during labor than non-exercisers.” This is thought to be due to the effects on abdominal muscles as well as stamina.
The benefits of water are not only noticed during prenatal treatment, but some opt to take advantage of those benefits during delivery with water births. The soothing effects of warm water are used during labor to ease pain and increase energy. Some women choose to labor in warm water and get out for the delivery, while others opt to deliver in the tub since it is thought to be less stressful for the baby to enter into an environment similar to the amniotic sac. Birthing tubs are designed to get warm without being harmful to the women or the baby. Most stay around 97 degrees Fahrenheit.
The benefits of water during pregnancy are numerous, extending from the first trimester all the way into the delivery room. Women can tap into this great natural resource with a simple soak, an organized prenatal water workout, as well as a birthing tub in the delivery room.