Hydrotherapy tubs installed at Novant Health hospital to aid mothers in labor

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 4:48 PM EDT
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WBTV) - Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston Salem recently renovated its labor and delivery unit to improve the birthing experience for expectant mothers.

There are many forms of pain management that can ease the burden of labor and delivery. Some moms choose drug intervention to ease the pain of labor, which can include an epidural, spinal blocks, or opioids, to name a few options. Other moms choose to deliver naturally and rely on relaxation techniques and breathing techniques to get them through.

Whether a mother chooses medication or natural birth, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center offers hydrotherapy to patients in labor. Hydrotherapy is the use of water to help with labor pain and discomfort.

“It reduces a woman’s stress,” Certified Nurse Midwife for Novant Health Nancy Prothero said. “It also helps reduce pain, gives them more satisfaction in the labor process. It’s been researched and it does show that women are more comfortable because of the buoyancy.”

Prothero has been a midwife for 22 years. She says in the beginning of her career, hydrotherapy wasn’t used often. But as more research was done, it showed how helpful hydrotherapy can be.

“It actually reduces the amount of pain medications people need. And sometime reduces the need for an epidural, but if they decide they want one, they are still able to get one,” Prothero explained.

Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center recently renovated its labor and delivery floor. Six labor and delivery rooms are now equipped with hydrotherapy tubs. Soon, all 9 rooms will have hydrotherapy capabilities. The tubs are much larger than your average bathtub so that the mother can be fully immersed in water and easily move to different positions.

“We know movement during labor helps the baby get into the pelvis better,” Prothero explained.

Prothero says the water temperature stays below 100 degrees so the mother and baby’s temperature does not rise.

In addition to the hydrotherapy tubs, Novant Health designed the labor and delivery rooms to look less like a hospital room and more like a home. In addition to hydrotherapy, dim lighting, aromatherapy, and music has been found to aid in relaxation.

“When a woman’s relaxed, their muscles are relaxed and it helps the baby enter the peliver easier, so it quickens the labor process,” Prothero explained. “Because women are satisfied with their birth process, they bond better with their babies and they have less issues with post-partum depression.”

Courtney Hendrix gave birth naturally to both her children, 2-year-old Quinn and newborn Beau. She used hydrotherapy in both pregnancies.

“I knew I wanted to do as all natural as I could, so hydrotherapy was there to manage the pain,” Hendrix said. “The hydrotherapy really helped me relax.”

When she delivered Quinn, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center did not have hydrotherapy tubs in each room. Instead, the hospital system used an inflatable pool that could be brought into each room.

Courtney’s son, Beau, was just born on May 30. She was able to deliver in the newly renovated midwifery suite that is equipped with a hydrotherapy tub. She says in addition to hydrotherapy, the lights were dim, and she and her husband chose their favorite music to be playing.

“We had oldies playing both times. Me and my husband really like oldies, we played it at our wedding,” Hendrix explained. “It definitely, for me, helped.”

Prothero says hydrotherapy is available to all mothers, no matter if they are insured, uninsured, or on Medicaid.

Hydrotherapy tubs are only available at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, right now. But Novant Health plans to offer the service in Charlotte once its Ballantyne Medical Center opens in 2023.

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