Nature’s Epidural – Water for Comfort in Birth

Did you know using the bath, shower or pool is like a natural pain-killer? Many birth-workers call it “nature’s epidural”. Being in water can help your labouring client feel a sense of privacy and bring great comfort for many, decreasing the sensation of pain. Even for clients who plan to use pain meds, spending time in the water can allow them to cope better if:

  1. They’re waiting for meds;
  2. It’s too soon to go to the hospital;
  3. They wish to put off using medications until later in their birth.  (Remember, it’s never too late to get an epidural.)


  1. If your client enjoys the shower, have them pack a shower curtain and a few rings in their birth-bag. (I carry these in my doula-bag in case they forget.)
  2. If they enjoy the bath, have them pack a “drain overflow cover” so they can get a few more inches of water in those short baths that are in many hospitals.
  3. In many areas, clients with a midwife can likely have a water birth (or at least a water-labour) at home or hospital. The birth-pool can be used at home for labour, even if your client is not going to have a waterbirth.
  4. Smart doulas bring shoes that can get wet and extra clothes in case their client loves the pool.
  5. Those same smart doulas advise birth companions to bring a swim-suit and extra clothes, shoes that can get wet.

Of course, a nice deep birth-pool is the very best way to use the benefits of water in labour. We teach doulas how to set-up, maintain, put away the pool and care for their floating clients in our Birth Pool Class.

Props can be used wisely with water during labour too.

  • If the shower is big enough for a birth-ball, then go ahead and put one in there so your client can sit on it or lean on it.
  • It’s OK to put towels or padding down to keeps knees or feet happier.
  • Wireless monitors can be used in the shower or bath in case continuous monitoring is needed.
  • Any massage tools used by doulas can get wet.

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