Easing Labor

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Women beginning labor are advised to soak in a warm tub. The water’s buoyancy lifts the baby’s weight off the mother’s back and relieves contractions.

Now women have the labor tub option at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, where the tub was installed last fall.

Laura Godfrey holds her daughter, Avery, at the labor tub.

(Patients undergo labor in the tub, but do not deliver in it.)

“I was thrilled that they installed the tub at Roanoke Memorial weeks before my delivery,” says Laura Godfrey of Roanoke. “I went from 5 cm to fully dilated and pushing in an hour. I didn't need pain medication.”

Andrea Cobb, M.D., who practices at Carilion Clinic’s obstetrics and gynecology practice in Salem, recommends the tub for women foregoing epidurals. “Tension prolongs labor,” she says. “When a woman relaxes in the tub, her body proceeds naturally.”

Su Clauson-Wicker is the author of two travel books and the former editor of Virginia Tech magazine. Her articles have also appeared in The Washington Post and other publications. She lives in Blacksburg.