The Magic of a Shower in Labor

A shower can help during labor

Showers are amazing. If I’m having a bad day, where things are slow to start, or when I just need a reset, I find that taking a shower and brushing my teeth (again) often puts me on the right back on track. Something about the flowing water is both soothing and energizing. And feeling clean doesn’t hurt either!

Thankfully, showers can have a similar effect on labor. Both the experiences of my clients, and studies  suggest that getting in the shower can help women cope with contractions. The sensation of water running over you, as well as the steam and sounds, can distract you from the feelings of labor, and have actually been shown to reduce the amount of pain that women report in active labor.

I like to recommend taking a shower for a portion of labor for a few of reasons:

  • A shower is available to clients whether laboring at home, or in a hospital, as well as at birth centers. It’s a diverse tool that all providers I’ve spoken with are open to, and useful regardless of most other circumstances that may come up in labor.

  • This is a coping tool that requires no previous knowledge or expertise, just running water and a support person to make sure that there are no slips or falls.

Showers can be an excellent time for bonding. If you are wondering how your partner/spouse can help with labor, and they’re feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility- this can be their job.

Ask them to run the water to a temperature that’s warm, but not scalding, help you into the shower, and stay with you in the bathroom.

This gives them a role in helping you, which may calm you both. It also gives a chance for you to connect with one another, an important part of labor that can encourage helpful hormones such as oxytocin.

Some clients have also asked me to join them during their shower- it’s a common way for a doula to help during labor. I might support you by provide counterpressure to your lower back, allow you to lean on me so that the water streams down your spine, or help you sit, squat or lunge if the hospital shower has a seat in it. Sometimes, between contractions, we just talk while the water runs.

It helps to let go of any previous feelings, and if you’re scared of pain or nervous about what’s coming next then we can talk about that too. This shower strategy session always feels like such an intimate and powerful experience to have with my clients, and I’ll never forget those moments as their labor doula.

Whether you plan to avoid all pain medications, or you’re thinking about how to manage labor before your epidural, I absolutely recommend putting this tool in your bag.

The magic of the shower is that it’s so simple. It’s a familiar way to bring calm energy to a stressful situation, that doesn’t require any memorization or new skills. It’s a great example of how we go into birth and parenthood with everything that we need.


  1. […] We have so many tools available to us: laboring positions, epidurals, hydrotherapy in the shower or bath. And the incredible power of our bodies means that we’re stronger than we think that they […]

  2. […] talk about how there are many tools to cope with contractions, and what they have access to, from showers to pain […]

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