After a long hard day, people often like to take a long, warm bath. So for a lot of pregnant woman, a water birth is enticing.
A water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub of warm water. Water births can alleviate pain and promote a gentle transition for the baby. Some women begin labor in the water, but decide to get out for the birth. It all depends on the desires of the laboring woman.
There are many benefits of a water birth for the mother. First, warm water is relaxing, comforting and soothing. It allows women to focus on the birthing process. In active labor and transition, water has shown to increase a woman’s energy, and the buoyancy allows free movement and makes frequent position changes easier. Women tend to have improved circulation, resulting in better oxygenation which causes less pain for the mother and additional oxygen for the baby. Water seems to reduce stress- related hormones and allows the production of endorphins which serve as pain inhibitors. Immersion in water can also lower blood pressure. Lastly, but equally important, water reduces perineal tears.
There are two benefits for the baby. A water birth provides an environment similar to the amniotic sac and it eases the stress of birth. Babies seem to enjoy the water as much as mothers do. People often think babies are in danger of starting to breathe underwater, but remember, babies perform under water just as well as in amniotic fluid.
There are several instances when a water birth is not a good idea; if the mother has a herpes outbreak, if the baby is preterm or if a thick meconium is seen in the amniotic fluid after the waters have broken. However, in general, water births can be a comforting and beneficial aid to labor and birth. For more information, contact me at www.BlissfulMidwifery.com.