Getting pregnant and giving birth is a life-changing experience for most women.

Of course, while these experiences are some of the most pivotal moments in a woman’s life, we cannot discount the fact that pregnancy and giving birth are not the same for everyone. Some find that delivering their babies is easy. Others have had to endure hours of labor (and a lot of pains) before finally bearing their child.

So for those who are afraid of experiencing the latter, the idea of water birth is probably something that’s going to be very appealing to them.

Let’s take a look at some things you need to know about water birth.

 

What is water birth?

According to Waterbirth.org, water birth (also known as “gentle birth), is a birthing method that encourages labor and delivery in a tub of warm water. As a result, the mother births her baby into an environment that is very similar to the warm fluid protected space of the womb. This birthing process increases the comfort, peace, and relaxation of the mother.

 

Where can water birthing take place?

Waterbirth can take place in a hospital, a birthing center, or even at home. A doctor, nurse-midwife, or midwife should help you through it. While this is a very good option if you’re not into medications and needles, you also need to have a low-risk pregnancy to ensure the safety of you and your baby.

 

Who is qualified for this procedure?

If you meet any of the criteria below: 

  • You’re younger than 17 or older than 35
  • Your baby is in breech position
  • You are having twins or triplets
  • Your baby is pre-term
  • You have pre-eclampsia or diabetes
  • You have an infection
  • Your baby needs to be monitored via CTG machine
  • Your waters have been broken for over 24 hours

You may not qualify for a water birth because of the risks these factors entail. Plus, you may also have a hard time getting out of the pool safely in case of any emergency.

If you and your baby are healthy enough to go through a water birth and you have the blessing of your OB-GYN, the next thing you need to do is to find out if it’s a service that the hospital provides. If not, you have to go to a birthing center or do it at home.

Once this is finalized, make sure the following things happen: 

 

  • You have an experienced, licensed, and trusted doctor to help you go through labor and delivery. You can also get a doula for additional help.
  • The birthing tub should be clean and well-maintained.
  • Proper infection controls and processes are in place.
  • There’s a plan to get you out of the tub as soon as your doctor, nurse, or midwife says it’s time or an emergency procedure needs to be performed.
  • You and your baby will be monitored while in the tub.

These are crucial to having a good labor and delivery experience.

 

What are the benefits of natural water birth?

Waterbirth has a lot of benefits for both the mother and the baby. For the mother, the warm water provides a soothing, comforting, and relaxing environment while she is undergoing labor. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this also promotes more efficient uterine contractions and improved blood circulation resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, less pain for the mother, more oxygen for the baby.

The water reduces stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins which serve as pain inhibitors. Since the mother is more relaxed physically, she has a greater ability to focus on the birth process. As a result, it can potentially lessen the need for pain medication. The buoyancy as a result of being in the water also lessens a mother’s body weight, allowing the mother to move freely and change positions as needed.

For the baby, the water birth provides an environment similar to the mother’s womb when it is still inside the amniotic sac. The process increases the sense of security given the less stress of the birthing process on the baby.

 

What happens during this procedure?

While in labor, you may see a lot of colors and textures as you come close to actually delivering your baby. These are common and may include mucus, blood, and feces. Your midwife or helper will clean them out with a net. Just focus, find a comfortable position and let your body do what comes naturally because you can move freely in the water. 

When the baby is born, your OB-GYN or midwife will be there to lift your baby’s head gently out of the water (if you give birth in the tub) and can be placed immediately on your chest for some skin-to-skin time as well as cord clamping.

 

What are its risks and complications?

Anyone thinking of doing a water birth at home or in a birthing facility needs to consider the worst-case scenario for the ultimate safety of their baby and themselves. Water births are not significantly more dangerous than birth out of the water, but when done at home, there is still an increased risk. Below are some items you may want to take note of:

 

  • Risk of Infection – Water birth essentially means pushing and delivering in a tub that may contain feces soon enough. A baby born in this environment can potentially swallow contaminated water, increasing the risk of them getting an infection. 

 

  • Risk of Pneumonia – The water must be kept between 95-100 Fahrenheit and the baby must be brought to the surface immediately upon delivery to prevent meconium aspiration, fecal contamination, and bacteria which can all cause pneumonia. 

 

  • Risk of Tearing the Umbilical Cord – Since the baby is brought quickly to the surface, there’s a risk that the umbilical cord may snap and this can be life-threatening. This can be managed by clamping the cord. However if not addressed immediately, it may lead to neonatal anemia.

 

Is water birth expensive?

The cost of water birth is usually less expensive than a hospital birth because women typically use fewer interventions and stay for a shorter time if done at a birthing center. However, if done in a hospital setting, the cost is almost the same as a vaginal birth. It can also be more expensive when done at home since you’ll have to buy a pool and pay for the services of the doctor, the midwife, and so on.

 

Talk to an experienced doula for all your water birthing questions.

Seriously considering water birth?

We at Northeast Doulas can help you!

Since 2002, we have been helping over a thousand mothers bring their beautiful children into the world. We want to support your well-being as well as that of your families at this pivotal moment of your lives by caring for you deeply while being armed with the educational, physical, and emotional support that you truly deserve. We’ve been guiding and supporting mothers from labor to postpartum for a long time. With us, you will never feel alone in your new journey. 

 

Contact us – we look forward to guiding and answering all your questions as you embark on this new adventure.