Do you love having a bath? Sliding into the warm water can bring instant relaxation to your body and mind. This soothing quality is why some women are choosing to use water when they give birth too. But the benefits don't stop there!
What is water birth?
This is when a person immerses in a warm bath or birth pool during labour. Some choose to use water immersion during the first stage of labour and then stay in the water to push and birth their baby. The placenta can also be birthed in or out of the water.
What are the benefits of waterbirth?
Many women say that the water is very soothing and provides great pain relief. The warm water can help you to relax your body, help labour flow more smoothly and allow you to have a more satisfying birth experience.
Birth pools can help provide more privacy so that you can feel like you’re in your ‘own bubble’. Labour is usually shorter and flows more smoothly when women feel safe and undisturbed. This helps oxytocin to flow which helps labour progress. This sense of privacy can also help endorphins to be released more efficiently which helps you feel more blissful and reduces the need for other pain relief.
The water helps support you so you can move more easily into different positions which can help your baby to navigate your pelvis easier.
Using water can reduce the length of labour. This may be due to the pain-relieving qualities, the feeling of safety and privacy and also that you can move more freely into ideal birthing positions. The warm water can also help soften the perineum and may reduce the risk of severe tearing.
Care providers are more likely to be ‘hands-off’ when a woman is birthing in the water. This means the mother is in control of pushing and her baby can be born freely into the water without the attendant’s hands guiding the perineum or birth of the head.
It is also a gentle transition for the baby. They are in a warm watery environment when in the womb. The transition from womb to water to air is so gentle that some babies don’t even cry.
"I loved all three of my water-births. It provided a feeling of total safety for my mind and body. The idea to birth 'on land' made me fearful whereas for me, the water was private and safe" (Anya, mama of three)
Are there any risks to birthing in water?
In the early stages of labour, using a pool may slow or stop contractions. It’s best to wait until you are in active labour and contractions are coming at least every five minutes.
Your doctor or midwife may advise against water birth if your baby needs to be monitored closely, if there is any sign of infection or your pregnancy is considered higher risk.
Is it safe for the baby to be born in the water?
This is one of the most common questions about water birth. Many people wonder what stops the baby from breathing under water. When in the womb, your baby receives oxygen from the placenta. At the time of birth, the baby continues to be oxygenated through the umbilical cord.
The baby will only take its first breath when their face comes into contact with the air and in response to a temperature change. Babies are also born with a ‘dive reflex’ which means they will swallow liquid not inhale it.
If the idea of water birth appeals to you, it’s good to find a care provider that is supportive of your choice. Most birthing centres are equipped with birthing tubs and if you’re birthing at home, you can rent a birth pool for a few weeks around your due date.
Download this free natural birth checklist that covers practical tips and natural suggestions for the three stages of labor. Start feeling more confident about your birth plan.