Water birth is a method of childbirth where the mom is submerged in a pool of warm water throughout the process of labor and delivery. It can be conducted in a birthing center, hospital, or at home.
It can be performed by a doctor, midwife, or nurse-midwife with the assistance of a doula or birthing coach.
What is Water Birth
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At least a portion of your labor and delivery may occur through a water birth if you choose to give birth there. It could take place in a hospital, at home, or in a birthing center. A physician, nurse-midwife, or midwife will assist you.
Having your baby delivered underwater should be regarded as an experimental procedure with risks, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which sets standards for prenatal and postpartum care in the U.S. It may also have some benefits during the first stage of labor.
Studies show that having a stage one water delivery does not improve your or your child’s health.
However, taking a warm bath makes you feel more at ease and helps you unwind. Additionally, moving about is easier in water than it is in bed.
Moreover, some scientific studies suggest that the water may lessen the possibility of major vaginal tears. The blood supply to the uterus may also be enhanced. However, the study’s findings on these issues are unclear.
Risks of water birth
Overall, ACOG recommends giving women the choice of giving birth in water when they are between 37 weeks and 41 weeks, 6 days pregnant. A low-risk pregnancy, clean amniotic fluid, and a head-down position for the child are also prerequisites.
It may not be recommended for women to give birth in the water if they are in preterm labor or have already had two or more cesarean sections.
Additionally, water birthing may not be suggested if you exhibit any of the following problems or symptoms:
- maternal illness or skin bleeding
- a temperature of at least 100.4 °F (38 °C).
- excessive spotting during pregnant
- incapacity to monitor the embryonic pulse or the need for constant monitoring
- history of shoulder dystonia
- carrying many goods
Infants who are born in water run the risk of getting infections or other diseases, albeit this is rare. Legionnaires’ illness is brought on, for instance, by inhaling water droplets containing the Legionella bacteria. One or more of the symptoms of this serious and occasionally fatal sickness include fever, cough, and pneumonia.
Among the additional risks are:
- having trouble regulating a baby’s body temperature
- potential for umbilical cord harm
- infants’ breathing issues
- seizures and suffocation
Is Water birth safe?
According to a study, water birth does not cause water to migrate upward during labor, enter the birth canal, or raise the risk of uterine or birth canal infections.
After delivering the placenta, a woman’s blood loss can be difficult to anticipate (afterbirth). This is accurate whether the mother gives birth in a bed or a bathtub.
Studies suggest that there may be a little increase in blood loss after a waterbirth. The nurse or midwife will periodically check your uterus to make sure there is no significant bleeding. If there is a problem, you may be requested to exit the bathtub so that a doctor may examine you and/or treat you.
When labor, which requires physically demanding activity, is paired with immersion in warm water, sweating might develop. Dehydration can cause an increase in heart rate and a mild temperature (not getting enough drink into the body). You must take in at least 8 ounces of clear drink per hour to prevent dehydration.
Some experts claim that taking a warm bath too early in labor will slow down the process and space out the contractions. Due to this, a lot of medical experts suggest that a woman in labor wait to use the bathtub until her labor is well-established and her cervix is at least four centimeters dilated.
Others have seen that if the woman is at least four centimeters dilated when she enters the water, labor progresses more swiftly. Labor might stall if the woman soaks in the tub for longer than one or two hours continuously. If labor pauses, it seems sensible to get out of the tub and take a 30-minute stroll.
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Water Birth pros
Water births are said to be soothing and relaxing; it also lowers blood pressure and eases anxiety. During the first stage of labor, or when contractions begin until the cervix is just about to be fully dilated, warm water helps ease pain and speed up the process of labor.
Some sources also claim that it reduces the possibility of tearing during labor because it makes the perineum of the vagina more elastic and relaxed.
Throughout the process, warm water also energizes the mom to push or bear down. Some moms are also more comfortable as the submersion offers more privacy.
According to ACOG, immersing yourself in water during the first few hours of labor may help to speed things along. Your need for spinal injections or other types of pain management may be reduced as a result of working in the water.
Lastly, women who give birth in water may also experience fewer cesarean sections, according to a small study (13.2 percent versus 32.9 percent).
Additionally, 6.1 percent of women who gave birth in the water reported stress incontinence, compared to 25.5 percent of women who gave birth on land, 42 days after giving birth. Larger studies are required to verify these findings.
Are water births dangerous? Disadvantages of water birth
According to a recent study, there is no data to support claims that water births are better than hospital births, just like there is no evidence to back its perceived dangers.
“The notion that it is safe to have the baby under water has not been shown as safe or unsafe in our review,” study author Dr. Alastair Sutcliffe, told FitPregnancy. “Whilst it is a good plan to try labor in water, my advice is to wait until there is more convincing evidence of safety before having the actual delivery in water.”
For moms-to-be considering giving birth in water, here are some possible, but rare, risks you should be aware of, according to Dr. Jeffrey Ecker of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
- There is a possibility that you or your baby could get an infection
- Your baby has irregular body temperature at birth, too high or low
- After birth, your baby could inhale or swallow water with feces
- Your baby’s umbilical cord could snap or detach during birth
- Your baby may have seizures or breathing difficulties
- In some severe cases, there could be water birth drowning where babies could drown
Is a water birth right for you?
To determine if water birth is a right choice for you and your baby, make sure that:
- You’re between the ages of 17 and 35
- You have not experienced labor complications in the past like preeclampsia
- You’re not expecting twins or multiple births
- Your baby is not in the breech position
- Your baby is not a preemie
- You don’t have an infection
- You don’t have chronic health problems, like heart disease
- Your baby is not big or heavy
Contact a specialist or the nearest birthing center to set up an appointment.
Here are some centers in the Philippines you could get in touch with.
Conscious Birth Manila
Shiphrah Birthing Home
6 Liwayway St., Blooming Hills Subdivision, Taytay, Rizal
Water birth positions
Try out a variety of water birth positions while in the tub. Try kneeling, squatting, stretching your legs out, leaning, sitting, and leaning face up or down.
What to expect during a water birth
If you wish to give birth in a tub at home, there are several ways to do so. One can be rented or purchased.
In any event, you should make a decision about where to install the tub in advance. The weight is usually not an issue in homes, but if you’re concerned, consider placing it on the first-floor level.
It takes a number of materials to heat and maintains the pool. For instance, you could decide to use a hygienic birth pool liner if you’re borrowing or renting a tub. Additionally, you’ll need a fishnet or strainer to remove solids from the birthing process.
Other supplies you may need:
- A clean and new garden hose that is long enough to reach your tub.
- hose adapter for a sink connection
- a jug of bleach for cleaning
- Epsom salts and sea salt, each weighing two to three pounds
- A tarp to protect the flooring
- More plastic sheeting
- A telepathic thermometer
- Pans of boiling water are used as emergency heaters
It’s also required to have access to a hot water tank. You may need to turn your water heater up to its highest setting to ensure that you have adequate hot water for the duration of your water birth. Temperatures in the birthing tub should range from 97 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (36.1 and 37.8 degrees Celsius).
Place folded towels, waterproof inflatable cushions, or a rubber bath mat on the bottom of the tub to protect your knees. Some pregnant women like their partner to be in the tub with them to grip onto and serve as an “anchor.”
Additional information from Margaux Dolores
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