Water for pain relief in labour and birth

Water – Shower/Bath/Effleurage

The benefits of water for labour is outlined in more details especially in reference to women’s environment in another post found HERE. Briefly though water is well known to be an amazing pain relieving tool for labour – women will tell you this, midwives will tell you this and research supports it. The use of a shower can be used to distract and provide comfort, while relieving pain. Warm water on the lower back and/or the lower abdo can assist in reducing the intensity of surges. You can mobilise within the shower as much or as little as you want. Equipment such as knee pads, birth balls and chairs can also be used to maximise efficacy.

Baths are also a fantastic tool for labour, the immersion in water providing buoyancy which can be comforting and reduce intensity, especially for women that feel heavy at the end of pregnancy. The separation from other people within the space can also assist in your relaxation and comfort – which can be pain relief in itself.

Comfort, safety, privacy are all key in assisting your mindset, in turn improving your ability to relax into the setting and release your own pain relieving hormones – your endorphins.

Ridley's birth, shower


  • Easy to use
  • Use of other equipment within space
  • Ease of movement
  • Don’t need to move to birth (if in bath – good to assess comfort of midwife providing water birth care prior)


  • Bath may not be available
  • Bath can slow labour in earlier stages of labour (this may be helpful if tired and requiring rest)
  • Important to be mindful of babies temp if birthing and baby getting wet in shower or bath – to dry and warm well with mum.

waterbirth, birth preparation, hypnobirthing, mindful birthing

Check out more information on the benefits of water within your birth environment in another blog post here.

Check out the other non pharmacological pain relief options in other blog posts here.

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