Childbirth: Labouring in Water and Water Delivery

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Childbirth: Labouring in Water and Water Delivery

Topic Overview

Labouring in water

Some hospitals and birthing centres offer tubs or whirlpools for labouring. If yours does, talk to your health professional about labouring in water. The warm water supports your body and helps you to relax. For many women, labouring in water has been proved to:1

  • Reduce labour pain.
  • Reduce the use of or need for pain medicine.
  • Lower the mother's blood pressure.
  • Help some women move along a slow labour and avoid a need for forceps, vacuum, or caesarean delivery.2

Some time before you are ready to push your baby out, you will have help getting out of the tub.

Delivering in water

A water birth is described as a "gentle birth" for the mother and baby. There is limited experience with this technique in the Canadian medical community, and few studies have been done.

If you are thinking of a water birth, discuss it with your doctor or midwife.



  1. Cunningham FG, et al. (2005). Dystocia: Abnormal labor. In Williams Obstetrics, 22nd ed., pp. 495–524. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  2. Cluett ER, et al. (2004). Randomised controlled trial of labouring in water compared with standard of augmentation for management of dystocia in first stage of labour. BMJ, 328(7435): 314–320.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised February 18, 2010

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