Objective: To evaluate the effect of immersion in water on maternal haemodynamic measures and fetal heart rate patterns in healthy nulliparous women.
Design: A randomised cross-over study.
Participants: Twenty pregnant women were studied between 26-29 weeks and between 34-37 weeks of gestation.
Methods: The women were either immersed in water for 35 minutes or rested on a bed for a similar period of time. Maternal blood pressure, thoracic electrical bioimpedance, urine and blood samples, and fetal heart rate patterns were obtained before and after immersion or bedrest.
Results: Compared with bedrest and pre-immersion values, immersion resulted in a significant decrease in blood pressure, which returned to baseline values within 1.5 hour. Urine production increased for a short period after immersion, but 24 hour samples showed no difference compared with bedrest. Sodium, potassium and creatinine levels in urine remained constant. No significant changes were found for the other haemodynamic measures. There were no effects on fetal heart rate nor on its variation.
Conclusion: In healthy pregnant women immersion for 35 minutes has a clear effect on blood pressure and urine production. However, these effects are short lasting.