Labor hydrotherapy utilizes the soothing properties of warm water immersion to relax the patient and to help ease patient discomfort and anxiety. Immersion in water has many effects that are beneficial to the patient including:
- Total immersion produces buoyancy which creates a hydrodynamic lift, reducing gravitational pull.
- A body in water weighs only 1/6 of what it does on land. This decreases muscular tension and allows the patient to maintain positions that might not be possible on land. The decrease in tension can also cause an increase in oxytocin and endorphins, creating a euphoric effect.
- Hydrostatic pressure equalizes the pressure on the body below the water surface which helps to reduce pain.
- The buoyancy of the water and width of the pool allow patients to easily change positions such as the knee–chest, seated, squatting and four foot stand.
- Water reduces the strain on perineal muscles and increases elasticity.