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Water Birth

Water birth is one of many options for childbirth. Water Births have become a very popular option in recent years. Read this article about the benefits of a water birth. We will also discuss what situations are not ideal for performing water births.

One of the methods of childbirth that has been gaining in popularity is water birth. In this type of birth, the mother sits in a tub of warm water. The tub is normally a special birth tub that is created for this purpose. In some cases, women have given birth in their own bathtubs, but this is rare, since the position of the bathtub makes the whole process inconvenient. Instead, a portable birthing tub may be set up in the front room of a house, or the tub at a birthing center or hospital may be used. Some women prefer to use the birthing tub during labor, but get out before the baby is born. Others will use the tub during labor and delivery, meaning that the baby is born in the water.

Benefits of water birth

There is insistence, among advocates of water birth, that there are a number of benefits involved in a water birth. For the baby, it is speculated that the water provides an environment similar to the one the baby has been developing in for months. Some believe that the transition from amniotic sac to water in a birthing tub reduces stress for the infant, as well as providing security.

For the mother, the benefits of water birth are also reported. Some of the claimed benefits of water birth for the mother include:

  • Buoyancy to lessen body weight and more efficient contractionss, as well as increased circulation.
  • Easier to reposition and move around.
  • Water can, in some cases, help increase a woman’s energy during labor and delivery.
  • Water is often considered relaxing and soothing, allowing for more relaxing and a focus away from pain.
  • The relaxing properties of water can help a mother’s muscles retain elasticity, allowing for a reduction in the chance of tearing.

It is important to understand that there are some risks. You do not want the birthing tub to be too hot, since that can result in dehydration and other complications. Another issue is water that becomes too cold. You need to make sure that the water is kept around 97 degrees. Water that becomes too cold can result in hypothermia and destroy the relaxing effects of warm water. Many birthing tubs are designed to keep the water at a specific temperature.

There are risks involved, such as the umbilical cord snapping before the baby is out of the water. In such a case, the baby is no longer receiving oxygen from the mother, and may gasp, inhaling water into the lungs. It is important to use caution in such cases; as long as the umbilical cord is intact, the baby is unlikely to have any breathing problems, though underwater. But the baby should be brought to the surface as soon as possible, but gently nonetheless. There are also small, theoretical risks of water embolism.

It is important to note that most health care professionals are reasonably supportive of water birth, since with proper oversight by a midwife or doctor, they are relatively safe. Studies show that mortality rates of infants during birth are roughly equal between water and non-water births.

Women who should consider avoiding water birth

While water birth is generally safe for most women, there are some situations that are not ideal for a water birth. Here are some cases in which water birth should be reconsidered:

  • Herpes: This disease transfers via water, and you could easily pass the condition on to your child.
  • Excessive bleeding: If you are having trouble with bleeding during your pregnancy.
  • Maternal infection: If you have an infection of some sort, you might pass it on, or risk some other problem.
  • Breech baby: Water birth can be done in these cases, but it can be more difficult. It is sometimes better to avoid water birth in breech cases.
  • Toxemia or preeclampsia: This sort of complication can cause problems during any birth - including a water birth. But with a water birth additional hazards might be introduced.
  • Multiples: This can make things more complicated during a water birth. It is possible, but you might risk some of the babies.
  • Preterm labor: Water birth is not recommended if the baby is expected to come early by two weeks or more.

How you give birth is up to you, and determined by what you feel comfortable with. Make sure you explore your options before you make a birthing plan. But if you think that water birth would be a positive experience for you, talk to your health care provider.

Related Article: Labor and Delivery >>