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Women Birth. 2007 Mar;20(1):17-24. Epub 2006 Dec 14.

It's beyond water: stories of women's experience of using water for labour and birth.

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Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.



This study aimed to give 'voice' to women's experiences of using water for labour and birth.


Five women from a large urban region in New Zealand, who used water for labour and birth, at home and in hospital.


The study employed an interpretive design using audio-taped conversations as the method of data collection and a thematic analysis of the women's stories.


Data analysis produced two core categories; 'Getting to the water' which revealed the impact of preparing for and anticipating the water; and 'Getting into the water' which provided a sanctuary and a release from pain.


The all-encompassing warmth associated with being enveloped in warm water cradled, supported, relaxed, comforted, soothed, sheltered and protected the women; it created a barrier and offered a sense of privacy. Water can be used in any form, even the act of thinking about, preparing for and anticipating the water opened possibilities for these women. The women used water to reduce their fear of pain and of childbirth itself; to cope with pain, not necessarily to remove or diminish pain; and to maintain control over the process of birth. The women indicated that it was not necessary to actually give birth in the water to achieve these benefits. Listening to the stories of women provides us with insights into what is important to them. Women's knowledge contributes an important part of the evidence on which we base our practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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