The Power of the Shower
I love the shower for labor. It is one of my go to suggestions for sure. I have found that sometimes it takes a bit of convincing to get a laboring mama in the shower. I think the whole process of having to undress, get wet, get out, dry off, and get dressed again can be daunting in labor. Most of my clients that make it into the shower feel relief and contractions seem to really progress.
Here are my steps to setting up a hospital shower for a client.
- If mama has an IV port, ask the nurse if it needs to be covered in plastic. This is one way to protect it from the water. I like this better than just saying “don’t get it wet”, that makes mama feel like they can’t move around freely in the shower.
- Look for a shower stool or bench. These aren’t available at all hospitals, but when they are I like to have them in the shower in case mama wants to sit. Cover the stool/bench with a clean towel. It will get wet, but will be more comfortable.
- Have mama’s toiletries available in case she wants them while in the shower.
- Put a washcloth in the shower and get plenty of towels ready in the bathroom for dry off. When she is ready to get out you don’t want her to have to wait for you to find towels.
- Get the water running. In my experience the hospital water has to be turned all the way to hot in order for it to feel good. Stepping into a shower with the water running is a whole lot better than having it spray cold on you!
- If mama is listening to music bring it into the bathroom and set it up.
- Bring mama’s water cup with a straw into the shower and place it within easy reach. Remind her that it will be in the shower with her.
- CRITICAL STEP – turn out the horrible florescent lights! If you need extra light turn up the lights in the room and leave the door cracked. I like to use battery operated candles. I keep 4 in my doula bag and set them up around the outside of the tub.
- Tell mama that you’ll be just outside of the door if she needs you and leave her ALONE. I think this is one of the greatest qualities of the shower. Mama can have some private laboring time. Sometimes partners want to join the shower which is great, but I think there is a lot of power in that alone time.
- While she is in the shower check her water cup periodically and get her clothes ready for when she gets out. This might include grabbing a fresh gown if she is wearing one.
- When she is done with the shower, be ready to help assist her in getting out, getting dry, getting dressed and navigating back to the room. Don’t forget to bring the music back to the main room too.
Other tidbits about using the shower…
Warm water on your back can help ease labor pain, especially back labor. If a hand shower is available, partners and/or doulas can direct that water right where relief is greatest. Warm water on your front can provide nipple stimulation that can increase contractions. The white noise of a running shower can help ease relaxation.
Don’t under estimate the power of the shower!!