Sense of coherence as facilitated by water immersion during labour and birth: A concept analysis and synthesis

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Objective: To explore the concept of sense of coherence as facilitated by water immersion during labour and/or birth. 

Design: A concept analysis and synthesis. A literature search of CINAHL, Medline, PubMed, PsycINFO and Emcare was undertaken in February 2022. Results were cross-checked with Google Scholar. No timeframe was specified, and results were restricted to research papers written in English. Overall, 2768 papers were retrieved and after removal of duplicates and unrelated papers, abstracts were screened to ensure the paper met the inclusion criteria i.e. women's experiences of water immersion for labour and/or birth. This process yielded a total of 37 articles and two theses, these were used for the concept analysis. Attributes were described and an exemplar case developed after mapping and charting of the data set. 

Findings: Three attributes were identified; agency, holistic and complete and more than pain relief which align with the three sense of coherence components: comprehensible, meaningfulness and manageability. 

Key conclusion: There is a growing evidence base regarding the use of intrapartum water immersion. The literature exploring women's experiences and views of water immersion, appears to consistently report that women experience physiological, physical and psychological benefits and that these benefits complement each other to facilitate greater self-efficacy and a more holistic experience. This combination of benefits afforded by water immersion facilitates a sense of coherence and subsequently, increases the likelihood of the woman experiencing labour and birth as both positive and satisfying. 

Implications for practice: A greater understanding of women's experiences of water immersion will provide rationale and reason for making the option a real choice while revealing the positive impacts that it can have on all outcomes beyond just the physical.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103824
Number of pages9
Early online date9 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Concept analysis
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Salutogenesis
  • Sense of coherence
  • Water immersion
  • Waterbirth


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