Water birth a low-risk and safe process of childbirth that takes place in water. It is widely believed that water birth as a procedure is more relaxed, less painful experience. It promotes a midwife-led model of care. Scientific evidence suggests water immersion in the first stages of labor require fewer epidurals and few adverse effects. A water birth means at least part of your labor, delivery, or both happen while you’re in a birth pool that is inflatable or stationary and filled with warm water. You may choose to labour in water and deliver outside water. This method will provide benefits of hydrotherapy and hospital care. Some hospitals offer water birth facilities. You can opt for water birth in a birthing center, or at home. A doctor, a nurse-midwife, midwife or doula helps you through it.
For delivering a water baby at home you will need 2 to 3 pounds each of sea salt and Epsom salts, tarp and plastic sheets to protect your floor, towels, floating thermometer and pots for boiling water as backup heating.
Read More: 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Home Birth
All You Need to Know About Water Birth: Benefits and Precautions
Benefits of Water Birth
It relieves pain
Women who choose water birth and labour in water used lesser or no medical pain relief. The warm water reduces pain by hydrotheraphy. However if there is pain, you can use gas and air, massage, acupressure and aromatherapy.
When you are anxious, your vaginal muscles are tensed and labour becomes painful. In a home environment surrounded by hot water reduces your stress and you experience lesser pain. This gives you confidence in your ability to give birth.
It supports your weight and makes it easy for you to stay upright
It helps your pelvis to open up and expand so your baby can pass through. The buoyancy of the water makes it easier to change positions to help you deal with your contractions.
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It reduces the risk of tearing
Water birth offers perennial support to the mother. The water softens the tissues of your perineum (the area between the vagina and anus) and makes them suppler. This enables you to stretch to accommodate your baby’s head as it passes through. This also reduces your probability of needing an episiotomy.
It frees feel-good hormones
Relaxing in warm water encourages your body to produce pain-relieving endorphins and reduces labour pain.
It creates a peaceful environment
The pool is a quiet, tranquil private environment which helps you feel safe and secure while you labour. Being surrounded by people you know imparts a feeling of familiarity.
Speed up your labor
A 2014 review reported that it has been found that water immersion during the first stage of labor can reduce the length of the first stage of labour in the mother. However getting into a warm bath too early can reduce speed of labour.
Increases your confidence
A warm bath helps you de-stress and help you feel more in control. Floating in water helps you move around more easily than in bed which strengthens the feeling of control.
A lower rate of cesarean delivery and stress urinary incontinence symptoms
The scientific reviews reported that immersion during labor did not appear to increase the rate of infections for the mother or the baby.
Precautions to take during delivering a water baby
The British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives does not recommend it in cases of complications. The person opting for the water birth does not have much to do except relax, labour through the process and avail the support of the midwife and her family.
However one should keep in mind certain physical and psychological restrictions while choosing water birth.
- You shouldn’t be younger than 17 or older than 35.
- You should not have complications like preeclampsia or diabetes.
- Avoid water birth in case you are having twins or multiples.
- Avoid water birth if the baby is in the breech position.
- Do not consider water birth if the baby is premature.
- From your earlier reports if you are aware of having a baby that is larger in weight and size compared to other babies, you should avoid water birth.
After you have confirmed from a medical practitioner that water birth is a safe and reliable option for you, you should search for an experienced, licensed health care professional, usually a midwife or a doula to help you through the labor and delivery. A doctor can be a backup option too.
You should make sure and maintain high standards are kept to ensure the tub is clean and well-maintained. The baby should not be infected by any disease due to being born into a dirty environment.
Proper infection control measures should be taken by the medical practitioners to promote smooth birth. This is done to make sure the new born baby does not get infected by water borne or air borne virus and bacteria after birth.
The mother and your baby’s physical condition (pulse rate, pressure) should be properly monitored while in the tub as required. The delivery should be made with precision and measures should be taken to make sure that the umbilical cord does not snap before delivery is completed.
There should be an effective, swift plan to get the mother out of the tub as soon your doctor, nurse, or midwife says it’s time to do so. In worst cases if the mother and the baby are not removed in time, water birth can cause the death of the new born child by drowning.
The water temperature should be well-regulated, usually between 97 to 100 F. If this is neglected then in worst cases the baby may lose their life due to overheating or coldness as it is born with a wrong body temperature.
The mother should drink water during the birth to avoid dehydration.