PHA Hydrotherapy Offers Pregnant Moms Pain-Management Alternative

ALLEN, Texas - Lisa Schafer opted for natural childbirth during the recent delivery of her fourth son at Presbyterian Hospital of Allen, taking advantage of the hospital's hydrotherapy program as an alternative form of pain management.

Hydrotherapy is one of numerous choices that the Family Birthplace at Presbyterian Hospital of Allen (PHA) offers to pregnant moms for labor, delivery and infant care. An alternative intervention for low-risk pregnant women, hydrotherapy has shown to be safe and effective particularly in coping with pain associated with labor and childbirth, according to research studies, including a study published in Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing.

Benefits can include significant pain relief, increased relaxation and lower blood pressure, the study said. Hydrotherapy has also been shown to reduce tearing and increase the speed of cervical dilation.

Recently PHA began construction of a birthing suite that includes a large SaniJet hydrotherapy system, an advanced technology tub that eliminates hidden pipes and air channels that have the potential to produce infectious bacteria.

For the past few years, PHA has allowed pregnant moms to rent and ship in portable hydrotherapy tubs. The program became so popular that the hospital staff decided to install a permanent tub, which should be ready for use in mid- to late April.

"Offering the option of hydrotherapy gives our patients another in an array of choices for pain management during labor," said Dawn Nichols, R.N., B.S.N., the director of PHA's Family Birthplace.

"Research has shown that hydrotherapy helps decrease pain, as well as facilitate the labor process. It also gives pregnant moms a feeling of the comforts of home while, at the same time, offers them the peace of mind of being in a hospital if an emergency should arise."

For Schafer, hydrotherapy proved to be a great tool for managing pain.

"Hydrotherapy helped with my contractions tremendously," she said. "It made them much more tolerable, even during the active and final stages of labor. It took the edge off and helped me relax much more than the narcotic pain medication I used during the birth of my first son.

"I also think hydrotherapy helped with my quick recovery," Schafer said. "I was up and around moments after birth and felt good."

An important part of the Family Birthplace's philosophy is to provide pregnant women and their families a "family centered and nurturing environment of care," including a diversity of options, Nichols said.

"What makes the Family Birthplace different is that we give women choices when it comes to having their baby," she said. "We don't push any one method here at Presbyterian Hospital of Allen, but instead want it to be entirely up to each mom." Options include selecting an obstetrician or a midwife, opting for natural childbirth or pain-intervention medications and techniques, deciding to keep her baby in-room during her stay, or utilizing the nursery.

The Family Birthplace features:

  • Around-the-clock, Level II neonatology services provided by a team of neonatal nurse practitioners and neonatologist physicians on the medical staff
  • Obstetricians and midwives on the medical staff
  • Labor, delivery and postpartum suites designed to reduce the need for moms to be moved from room to room during birthing
  • Bedside care for both mom and newborns by the same maternity nurse
  • Choice of in-room baby boarding, so there is no separation of mother and infant
  • Breastfeeding assistance, encouragement and education by nurse lactation specialists
  • Custom-designed in-room sinks for baby's first bath
  • Open visiting hours, so that families can stay continuously connected
  • A variety of educational classes for expectant mothers, new parents and siblings
  • Amenities including TV/VCR/DVD and CD players, as well as free Internet access

"Our job at Presbyterian Hospital of Allen is to provide our new moms and parents the necessary tools before, during and after childbirth, to maximize the excitement of this life-changing event," said PHA President Sheila McKinney. "We continually strive to provide quality medical, nursing and clinical support staff, and to research options such as hydrotherapy to give women more choices during the birthing process."

About Presbyterian Hospital of Allen
Established in 2000, Presbyterian Hospital of Allen is a member of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources. PHA is a recognized clinical program leader, providing technologically advanced care to patients. Key services offered include comprehensive women's services, obstetrics (including Level II neonatal services), orthopedics, pediatrics, gastroenterology, urology, cardiology, wound care and sleep medicine. PHA has more than 425 physicians on its medical staff, practicing in more than 25 specialties.  For more information about PHA, visit

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. THR controls 13 affiliated hospitals and a medical research organization, and is a corporate member or partner in seven additional hospitals and surgery centers. THR's family of hospitals includes Harris Methodist Hospitals, Arlington Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare System.  For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit

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Donna Steph Hansard