Hydrotherapy Use During Labor: An Integrative Review


  • Marilyn Stringer PhD, CRNP, RDMS,

    1. Marilyn Stringer, PhD, CRNP, RDMS, is an Assistant Professor of Women's Health at the University of Pennsylvania Health System & School of Nursing, 420 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Fax: 215-573-7291. E-mail: stringer@pobox.upenn.edu
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  • Lisa Hanes RN, MSN, CNM

    1. Lisa Hanes, RN, MSN, CNM is Director of Nurse Midwifery at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19204. Fax: 215-349-5228.
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(1) Hydrotherapy is an effective, alternative intervention that can be used by care providers to provide a nonpharmacological method to assist low risk, laboring women cope with labor. This article provides a synthesis of the state of the science on the effects of hydrotherapy with labor and delivery. The indications, physiologic mechanism, benefits, practice implications, and needed research are discussed. The data-based articles support numerous benefits such as increased relaxation, increased satisfaction, lower blood pressure, and increased diuresis with women who bathe during labor. These studies found that there was no difference in maternal and neonatal morbidity such as infections between bathers and nonbathers. Additionally, there was no difference in maternal and neonatal infection rates between women with intact or ruptured membranes. The use of hydrotherapy during established labor increases cervical dilation while bathing although there is no difference in the total length of labor between bathers and nonbathers. Researchers conclude that hydrotherapy is a safe, nonpharmacological alternative for women to use during labor and delivery.