As an alternative method of childbirth, water birthing is gaining popularity quickly and is in fact even becoming accepted by a number of doctors and hospitals as a viable alternative to more traditional birthing methods.
Waterbirthing means that rather than lying on a hospital bed to give birth a mother spends part of her time in labour up until it is time to deliver Baby submerged in a tub of warm water. the theory behind the concept is that since the baby has spent the last nine months floating in a sac of amniotic fluid that the water makes for an easier transition into the world and the labor and delivery process becomes far less stressful for the mother as well.
A water birth will of course have to be carefully supervised by doctors and nurses who are familiar with the process but the good news for those women interested in the idea is that an increasing number of birthing centres are beginning to embrace the idea and are offering waterbirthing to any woman who has been cleared by her doctor to choose such an option.
The Benefits of Water birthing
Many people, both Mums who have already experienced waterbirthing and medical professionals who have been present at such births feel that waterbirthing has a lot of benefits over a more traditional birth.
The biggest of these benefits for the Mum to be is that the warm water has a naturally soothing and relaxing effect, something that is very welcome under what are always going to be stressful circumstances. Research has even shown that women who labour in a birthing tub do not seem to experience the higher blood pressure caused by stress that women who opt for a traditional bed bound birth do and they also seem to have more energy when it comes to the hardest last stages.
The buoyancy of the water can be a big help as well. Floating lessens body weight which allows Mums to be to move around and change positions more easily while increasing blood circulation which makes every uterine contraction far more efficient, speeding labour and reducing pain. Many doctors who are experienced in waterbirthing also feel that the warm water and the feelings of relaxation it promotes help reduce the amount of stress related hormones a woman’s body produces and increase the number of pain relieving endorphins instead.
There are also benefits for Baby as well. In addition to not being taken out of the environment they are used to instantly the fact that Mum is calmer and more relaxed decreases stress on the baby during the labour process as well. Often a Mum under great stress can lead to a Baby under stress and a complication like an increased fetal heart rate, something that can complicate birth and is one of the biggest reasons that unplanned c sections are performed.
What Might Prevent a Woman from Choosing a Water Birth?
In the 30 years or so that water birthing has been gaining in popularity there have seemed to be no bigger risks for most mothers and babies in choosing a water birth over a conventional birth. There are certain women however that doctors do not recommend try waterbirthing. If the labor is preterm or the woman has a maternal infection then waterbirthing may not be the right choice and for women who have herpes then the risk of waterborne transmission to the baby may be too high.
If you are interested in the concept of a water birth it is something that you should discuss with your OB GYN well before your due date so that if it is a viable option for you you can ensure that you will be in the right place with all the right staff and help around you when the time comes.
Note: This is one of the many labor-series of articles planned out for MyPregnancy.sg. Do check back at http://www.mypregnancy.sg/category/labor/ for more ways of labor