Healthy Expectations: More women turning to hydrotherapy for labor pain relief

HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — April Seivard glows as she bonds with her son Maxwell over a favorite book.

“Millions of fingers, millions of thumbs,” she reads aloud.

Just eight months ago she was awaiting his arrival at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. During labor, Seivard opted to use hydrotherapy, which uses water for pain relief.

“If you want to have a natural birth, it’s definitely something to consider,” Seivard explains. “When you get in, you just sorta feel like that gravity is being taken away and the water is holding you.”

Historically, there is evidence of water therapy as far back as the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman empires.

“It relaxes people, it decreases anxiety, it lowers pain scores, explains Meghann Batten, the Nurse-Midwife Hospitalists Director. “All of the things we want it to do while people are hurting.”

April Seivard’s son Maxwell is now eight-months-old.

So many women are now exploring hydrotherapy that Henrico Doctors’ Hospital included special tubs when designing its new Women’s Hospital.

“We don’t want patients to feel restricted while they’re in water either, and the tub needs to be able to accommodate somebody to move freely and still be monitored and accessible to the staff,” says Amber Price, the Women’s Hospital Administrator.

Price says numbers from Henrico Doctors’ Hospital show one out of four women want low intervention births for their babies, and hydrotherapy is one of the options they are choosing.

Batten adds moms-to-be often use it during the hardest part of labor.

“Women are looking at us and going, ‘I can’t do this anymore, I really can’t do this anymore. I think I need an epidural,’ and you put them in the tub and they instantly relax and they instantly feel like they are capable of carrying on without that medication.”

Seivard used hydrotherapy for the births of all four of her children and says the experience with Maxwell at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital was exactly what she wanted.

She is glad to see other moms embracing hydrotherapy too.

(Photo: April Seivard)

“It’s just been a huge help,” Seivard says with a smile.

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