Otherwise, bathing, especially in labor, is encouraged without worry of possible infection. The only precaution is to make sure that the water for bathing is clean. Some couples go to the extreme of using purified water for the tub in which they intend to give birth. Regular tap water is usually sufficient.
During labor everything is moving down and out. The baby is descending into the birth canal. It does not make sense that bacteria from the water would go up into the uterus. In fact, the concentration of bacteria in and around the vagina is actually diluted by the water, lessening the possibility of infection.
How are emergencies handled in the water?
The physicians and midwives who include water birth in their practices carefully monitor the progress of the birth and the baby's status throughout labor, just as in any birth. If an emergency is encountered, the situation is assessed and the proper course of action taken. The mother may be required to get out of the tub or simply change positions. Practitioners use their own judgment and level of experience during labor and birth to guide them.
A decrease in the baby's heart rate, detected through the use of a fetoscope or ultrasound Doppler, is often seen as a cause for concern. Sometimes this situation can be easily remedied by simply asking the mother to change positions. Almost all birthing positions can be assumed in the water with minimal effort because of the water's buoyancy. A woman can squat, sit, kneel, be on her hands and knees or sit on someone's lap. She can even lie down on her side if the tub is large enough.