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Res Nurs Health. 2001 Feb;24(1):57-67.

Hydrotherapy in labor.

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Nurse-Midwifery Education Program, Department of Family and Child Nursing, East Carolina University School of Nursing, Rivers Building Room 203, Greenville, NC 27858-4353, USA.


Maternal anxiety and pain prolong labor and contribute to fetal distress. Hydrotherapy during labor may promote relaxation and decrease pain without the risks caused by other treatments. In this pilot study the psychophysiological effects of hydrotherapy on maternal anxiety and pain during labor were examined. Using a randomized, pretest-posttest control group design with repeated measures, 18 term parturients were assigned to a control or an experimental group. Experimental subjects were placed in a tub of 37 degrees C water for 1 hr during early labor. The Wilcoxon two-sample test revealed statistically significant effects. At 15 min bathers' anxiety and pain scores were decreased compared to nonbathers. At 60 min bathers' pain scores were decreased compared to nonbathers. After 15 min of immersion, bathers had a significantly greater increase in plasma volume than nonbathers. No significant differences were found in urine catecholamines or maternal-fetal complications. The small sample limits conclusions, but the findings offer preliminary support for the therapeutic effects of bathing in labor for acute, short-term anxiety and pain reduction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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