What is water birth?
There are those that labor in water and those that birth in water. I’ve done both and love both. Laboring and birthing in the water has many rewards and is becoming increasing popular as more women learn about it’s benefits.
Pro’s to Water Birth
A water birth is very calming to the mother, kind of like taking a big warm bath. It can really help labor progress, so long as you get in after measuring six centimeters. Any sooner and you can risk stalling your labor. The water pressure on the body reduces pain the mother may be experiencing in her legs, abdomen, or back, just to name a few.
Not only does water pressure relieve pain but it also helps support the perineum to reduce the chances of deep tearing. There is a slight risk of increased 1st and 2nd degree tears, but this is believed to be because of the reduced rate of episiotomies, probably due to the difficulty of giving this procedure by the doctor. As many believe (myself included) that tears heal better then episiotomies, this can be seen as an advantage.
In today’s day, more and more babies are posterior. This can create intense back labor pains. As the mother is totally submerged in water that is preferably at least 100 degrees, this can take the pressure off her back, with the heat relaxing tense muscles that could be causing additional discomfort in other parts of her body.
Another advantage of water birth, according to www.evidencebasedbirth.com, is the use of less pain relieving medications in comparison to land births in seven out of the seven studies. As laboring in water is seen as a pain reliever it helps the mother be able to cope better with her labor pains, thus alleviating her need for relief.
Many mothers worry about their baby taking her first breath while underwater. This is highly unlikely as a baby doesn’t usually take their first breath unless exposed to air or coldness. As the baby is born, they transition from a warm, watery environment to another warm, watery environment creating a gentle emersion. Many see this type of birth as more calming and less traumatic for babies, thus making their birth more peaceful.
Con’s to Water birth
Truthfully, more research is needed to determine a true list of con’s to water birth. For some reason there is very little research, at least with greater numbers of mothers and infants. The majority of studies I’ve found are with small groups.
One con I found is possible water aspiration. There have been no recent studies made but in 1999 one study showed some infants had aspirated water during water birth. Most made a complete recovery. I don’t understand why more studies haven’t been made though if this is a concern.
Care providers and mother’s need to be aware of the baby after it is born and breathing. As the mother is usually pretty tired there is a slight risk of the mother accidentally letting the baby slip just a little to low and allowing their mouth in the water to possibly aspirate or drown. I can relate to this as the water is very warm and the mom may not quite register where the water level is in relation to her baby. She’s trying to keep her baby covered and warm and is experiencing so much relief that sometimes it’s just hard to notice the water level. I’ve been reminded numerous times to watch my baby and the water level (I’ve had many water births).
Another concern is being able to accurately determine blood loss. A little bit of blood looks like a LOT of blood when put into some water. If the care provider is new to water birth they may not be able to accurately assess the amount of blood the mother has actually lost in either direction.
I highly recommend water birth for those women that are willing to give it a try. If God blesses me with another baby I would be tempted to have another water birth. As my midwife provides a birth tub like this one, I’m thinking about investing in this birth pool. I see it as an investment for my next birth and for my business as other mothers may want to rent it for their birth. They definitely look pretty comfy to be sure!
Are you thinking about having a water birth or you have had a water birth and want to share? Please do! I love to hear about other mother’s experiences. Happy birthing!