Observing position and movements in hydrotherapy: a pilot study

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. Jan-Feb 2008;37(1):116-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2007.00212.x.


Objective: To observe and describe the positions and movements women choose while immersed in water during the first stage of labor.

Design: Descriptive, observational pilot study.

Setting: A rural community hospital that provided hydrotherapy in labor.

Participants: Women (N = 7) who intended to use hydrotherapy in labor were recruited prenatally from a midwife-managed practice.

Measures: For 15 minutes of each hour during the first stage of labor, position and movements of the participants were observed and recorded on a laptop computer. The observational tool was developed for this study from a review of the literature and interviews with nursing experts; 435 observations were recorded. Women were free to choose when and how long to use hydrotherapy and had no restriction on their positions and movements.

Results: Only 3 of the 7 participants labored in the tub. Women demonstrated a greater range of positions and movements in the tub than in bed, both throughout labor and during late first-stage labor (7-10 cm of dilatation). Women had more contractions and made more rhythmic movements while in the tub than in bed.

Conclusions: Hydrotherapy may encourage upright positions and movements that facilitate labor progress and coping, helping women avoid unnecessary interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Delivery, Obstetric / nursing*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy / nursing*
  • Hydrotherapy / psychology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Labor Pain / nursing
  • Labor Pain / psychology*
  • Labor Stage, First / psychology*
  • Natural Childbirth / nursing*
  • Natural Childbirth / psychology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Posture*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Rural Population
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Water


  • Water