Are you thinking of having a water childbirth? Get advice and enough information about the benefits and risks before taking a decision.
The water birth has become very popular today, and many women have considered this method as an option. However, many doctors are not fully convinced that this method of birth is safe, and there are many risks in this regard. In fact, many doctors believe that water birth may increase some mother and baby infections.On the other hand, some proponents believe that a birth in water is more relaxed and less painful for some mothers.
What is a water childbirth?
A water birth, is to carry out the process of labor and delivery in a tub of warm water. However, some women choose to carry out only the process of labor in the water, and get out for delivery. That decision depends on how you feel more comfortable and obviously, with the advice of your health care provider or midwife. There is a very obvious theory about water birth which considers that, since the baby has been in the amniotic fluid for 9 months, the birth in water can be smoother and less stressful for the mother. A water birth can be done at home or in a hospital, But, if you decide to have your baby at home, your midwife might recommend you a special tub to give birth your baby. Remember, a water birth should always be supervised by a healthcare provider or midwife.
What are the benefits of a water childbirth?
Scientific benefits are not that clear, but some potential benefits are more focused on the feeling of the mother, for example:
- Considering that water is a natural environment that helps to reduce stress and anxiety, it helps with the pain perception, and therefore the use of less pain relievers.
- Reduces the possibility of having an episiotomy (surgical incision in the perineum).
- The water softens the tissues of the perineum and is able to stretch to accommodate your baby’s head.
- Being in a tub of warm water, is already a relaxing atmosphere for some mothers, allowing them to concentrate on the birth.
- The body in the water allows smooth movements that give the mother a sense of control of labor. Check some childbirth positions here.
- Some moms believe that a water birth is a more natural birth because their baby will be born in a similar environment to the amniotic fluid.
- Water tends to relax the muscles and thus to improve blood flow.
- A childbirth in water may shorten the first stage of labor and reduce the need for anesthesia.
What are the risks of a water childbirth?
Regarding the risks of water birth, some researchers say it’s as safe as birth in bed, but other scientists believe that, although there are few risks, these can be very serious, for example:
- If the water is contaminated, it can cause infections.
- The baby may swallow water, producing electrolyte problems.
- The water must remain at a temperature about 97º F, otherwise if too hot, it can cause dehydration.
- The lack of oxygenation underwater, can cause serious brain injury.
- If water enters the mother’s bloodstream, it can cause water embolism.
- It is not recommended to have unassisted childbirth. Even though there are few risks, your baby’s life is more important. Have the assistance of a medical or professional birth attendant.
How to decide if water birth is right for you?
- If you have an herpes infection, it can be transmitted to your baby.
- It is not recommended if you have early signs of labor.
- If your baby is breech position (feet or bottom first).
- Having multiple Increases the Risks of water birth. However, ask your health care provider.
- If you have high blood pressure or preeclampsia, may increase the risk of complications to you and your baby.
- If your doctor suggests induce labor, childbirth is not recommended in water, because your baby will need to be constantly monitored, and these monitors are not possible in the water.
How do I prepare for a water childbirth?
- Ask your doctor, or midwife if there is a birth center or hospital that is equipped with birth pools.
- Just for safety, check the hospital policies with respect to water births.
- Regarding the birth tub, if you plan to have your baby at home, check the possibility to rent a birthing tub. If you want to have your baby in a hospital, find out the availability of birthing tubs.