Water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub of warm water. Some women choose to labor in the water and get out for delivery. Other women decide to stay in the water for the delivery as well. The theory behind water birth is that since the baby has already been in the amniotic fluid sac for nine months, birthing in a similar environment is gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother.
Benefits for Mother:
- Warm water is soothing, comforting, relaxing.
- In the later stages of labor, the water has been shown to increase the woman’s energy.
- The effect of buoyancy lessens a mother’s body weight, allowing free movement and new positioning.
- Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and improved blood circulation resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles,
- less pain for the mother, and more oxygen for the baby.
- Immersion in water often helps lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety.
- The water seems to reduce stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins which serve as pain-inhibitors.
- Water causes the perineum to become more elastic and relaxed, reducing the incidence and severity of tearing and the need for an episiotomy and stitches.
- As the laboring woman relaxes physically, she is able to relax mentally with greater ability to focus on the birth process.
- Since the water provides a greater sense of privacy, it can reduce inhibitions, anxiety, and fears.
Benefits for Baby:
- Provides an environment similar to the amniotic sac.
- Eases the stress of birth, thus increasing reassurance and sense of security.
How do I prepare for a water birth:
- First check with your healthcare provider
- . They may already be equipped for water birth with a special tub or might know of a location in your area that is equipped for this.
- If you plan to give birth at a hospital, make sure their policies permit water birth.
- Increasing numbers of hospitals are welcoming parents who desire water birth.