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What is the appropriate temperature for the water?

The water should not exceed the body temperature, which is approximately 97 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). Temperatures exceeding this level can lead to hyperthermia and dehydration in the mother and the baby. Temperatures above 97 degrees also can cause baby's heart rate to go up. Keeping mom hydrated and offering her a spray bottle filled with cool water for her to spray her face and neck can help with comfort. It's less of a concern if the tub water drops a bit while the mom is laboring, as babies withstand cooler water temperatures well.

When should I get into the tub?

Before getting into the tub, it is recommended that you wait until your contractions are strong and consistent, which occurs around 5 centimeters. Some women have utilized the water for rest and regeneration in early labor (before 5 centimeters) if there has been a long prodromal stage (irregular contractions, with a small amount of dilation or none at all). Some caregivers feel that getting in the tub too early can cause a woman's labors to slow down because she may become too relaxed, but each woman's labor should be considered individually.

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How deep should the water be?

Ideally, deep immersion is a key factor. If the bath or pool is not deep enough, up to breast level and completely covering the belly, then the benefits may be less noticeable. Full immersion promotes more physiological responses, the most notable being a redistribution of blood volume, which stimulates the release of oxytocin and vasopressin.

How long should I stay in the water?

Most studies have indicated staying in the water for an hour or two. Twenty minutes in the bath is not enough for the physiologic responses to work effectively. Primips (first timers) and multips (multiple birthers) can get into the water at 7 cm or 8 cm dilation and begin to experience pushing urges within the first hour of immersion. If the contractions begin to space out and slow down, it is advisable to get out of the tub and become ambulatory.

Will I be able to switch positions while in the tub?

You are encouraged to try different positions and to do what works best for you at the time. You are much more able to switch positions with less effort while in the water than on land.

Can my husband/partner get in the tub with me?

Another person can get into the tub with you. If the father or anyone else gets in the tub, make sure they have showered and are not harboring any staff infections on their bodies. Make sure the tub is filled with less water, since the water level increases 1" to 2" for every person in the tub. Some women prefer that their partners support them from outside the tub, while others like their partner to join them in the water.

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