Pros and Cons of Water Birth
Expecting a baby is one of the most exciting, yet challenging times, for expectant parents. Thankfully these days there are an increasing number of options when it comes to labour and childbirth options. Water birth is quickly gaining popularity as a birthing choice for many mothers.
What is a water birth?
Although water birth may be a fairly new concept to many mums, it has become more popular because it allows mothers to give birth by following their natural birthing instincts, much of which has been lost due to advances in medicine over the past few decades.
Water birth is a simpler, gentler procedure for giving birth. If you think about how relaxing a warm bath can feel after a long, tiring day; it provides the same kind of relief for women during child labour. In short, it makes you feel better, and this is why more new mums are opting for water birth. Being immersed in water provides great assistance during contractions, which makes the whole process of giving birth less stressful for both mother and bub.
It is similar to how a normal bath or shower makes you feel physically and emotionally better and more relaxed, water birth provides a similar relaxing experience for the mother-to-be; aiding in washing away pain and stress. Immersing in the warm waters of a tub, with dimmed lights, and in a quiet room can also heighten the relaxing benefits of a water birth so that women are more in tune with the labour process.
The water birth procedure is rather simple: when a woman goes into labour, she does so naturally but with water birth, this occurs in a water tub filled with pleasant warm water. Some mums may opt to labour in the water without birthing in the water; However this will still have the same emotional and physical benefits for the mother.
How to prepare for a water birth?
If the idea of a water birth is interests you, there are some things you should keep in mind before opting and preparing for water birth. Here are a few things to help you think it through:
Determine if water birth is the right birthing procedure for you: Many women prefer this option because they naturally gravitate to water as an element that provides them comfort. If you are one of these women, it’s likely that this is the right choice for you. Deciding what method to give birth in should be an intuitive one; listen to what your gut says and you can go from there.
Speak to a childbirth professional who has significant experience in water birth. It is normal to have many questions about the procedure, and a professional in this field can answer them all and calm any fears or anxieties you may have about pregnancy or giving birth in general. Midwives are well-educated about all the benefits and risks of water birth and are a good source to get confidence in water birth as a birth option from.
Make sure that you have the proper supplies needed for water birth. Some of the things you should have in your birth kit include: a birthing pool, pool liner, hose, water thermometer, and a pump so that you can blow up the pool.
Prepare the proper ambiance for a water birth: In the wild, animals choose to give birth in warm, quiet, and dark places for a reason. These kinds of environments help to calm down the birthing mum, while also making it a more intimate and sacred experience.
Educate yourself about all the different birthing options available: It would help to attend birthing education classes in your community. Perhaps these events would give you the opportunity to meet women who have gone through water births before, and can provide you with valuable first-hand advice. Understanding all the options available to you can help you make the right decision for your birthing choice. Also, being aware of all the different options of giving birth will help you keep a backup plan in the event that a water birth doesn’t go as planned.
Benefits of a water birth
Buoyancy: Being in water helps make you feel lighter, and buoyancy keeps you up. It makes it much easier to move around so that you can make yourself as comfortable as needed within the tub. Mothers in labour can choose the best position to help the baby move most easily through the pelvis. Ideally, knees should be kept lower through the hips so as to minimize pain and discomfort, allowing your bub to birth naturally through you.
Less pain: Contractions can be extremely painful for many mums; but being in warm water makes it more tolerable. This is the same reason why when we are in pain, such as experiencing sore feet or a backache, running a warm bath does wonders.
It has the same effect for expecting mothers as well who opt for water birth. There are some cases wherein pregnant mothers cannot handle the pain of contractions, and when this happens, an epidural or pethidine may be given for strong and effective pain relief but it will require you to leave the tub. Gas and air are also other natural pain-killing alternatives that are used during water birth.
Emotional and physical support: Mums who opt for water birth are assisted by a doula, midwife, or a birth partner. Australian hospital guidelines state that women must never be left alone in a birth pool, so you can safely go through the entire process with the moral as well as physical support that you need from beginning to end.
Peaceful, positive birthing experience: Women who undergo water birth usually have a positive experience. It provides them with an opportunity to develop a more primal, natural, and instinctive connection to both newborn baby and their birth partner because of the intimacy of the entire experience.
Safety Precautions of Water Births
Pregnancy and childbirth being the most sensitive times of a mother’s life, proper care and safety precautions are highly necessary. Some of these safety precautions include:
The risk of infections: There is a small risk of infection that may occur in the birthing pool. Once you begin to push your baby out, in some instances this may cause the bowels to open which is completely normal. The midwife helps to get rid of debris; however, it still poses a small risk of infection but in general, hospitals and birthing centres have strict policies ensuring that birthing pools are always sterilized after each birth to minimize the risk of infection.
Presence of Water doesn’t mean NO pain at all: Different mothers will experience different levels of pain during child birth. You may find that water birth still results in painful contractions, resulting in a disappointment. Even though many women opt for water birth for a birth as natural as possible, severe pain during contractions may leave you no choice but to take an epidural. But keep in mind that many births don’t always go according to plan; it’s completely fine for you to follow your body’s instincts and do what you need to do for a safe and comfortable birthing process.
Possible Complications: During a water birth, some complications may arise which will require you to stay out of the pool. These complications may include a slow heartbeat from your baby, chances of slow labour, possible bleeding etc. You may also feel drowsy or faint or have a high blood pressure. Also, if your baby decides to poop in the water provides another reason for possible complications. The midwife assisting you is trained to be on the lookout for these signs in order to get you the best medical attention at the soonest possible time, because you and your baby’s safety is her top priority.
Where to go for Water Birth or Not?
The short answer to this is: It’s a personal choice. You and your partner and family are the best ones to make this decision. There are pros and cons to all the different birthing options, it’s upto you to decide which one is best for you and your baby. Either way, as worrying or painful it can be, this is going to be one of the most emotional and memorable parts of your life!