7 Informative Water Birth Pros And Cons To Consider

Water Birth and what you’ll need to know before making your decision that welcomes your new addition.

water birth

Want to know what options you have when it comes to birthing?
Here you’ll find even more information on the wonderful process of water birth
Where you’ll not only find out the water birth pros and cons. But also the positions, what to wear, and where to have it.

The great news is in, and you’re expecting. Or you’re getting your ducks in order for when the time comes. Either way, it’s fine. You can never be too prepared! Especially for this exciting new change, of bringing a baby into the world. When it comes to the birthing process the question may be; “where to start with all these options?!” But we’ll ease your mind to one of the options available, which is water birth.

Let’s start with the basics. Water birth is exactly as it sounds and that’s birthing in the water. It’s a practice that’s been around for centuries. Where the first medically recorded was in 1805. A French woman was in labour for a tedious 48 hours. Her doctor helped her into a warm bath to relax. Where she experienced immediate relief and smoothly gave birth to a healthy child soon after. This observation peaked the medical worlds curiosity to explore the wonderful area of water births as a viable option for many women there after. Growing more popular since the 80’s and 90’s. 

When a baby is birthed in water this provides many benefits. Benefits to not only the baby but also the mother. As the water provides a gentle progression from the womb, into the outside world. Plus the mother maintains a healthy low-risk pregnancy and birthing experience.

A beauty of water birth is that it is an appropriate method for birthing all year round. The temperature of the water itself remains at 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees celsius). This is about the temperature of the mothers body temperature. This allows the baby to be birthed into a more familiar environment. Plus the mother can maintain comfort throughout the process as well.

Who Is Elligible?

Regarding water births, there are certain criteria to be elligible. These can vary depending on your location. Yet some of the staple factors are: whether you can consent, go into labour past 37 weeks, are pregnant with one baby and the position is facing head down, and of course have had a healthy low-risk pregnancy through out. For more location specific details, it’s encouraged to contact your preferred birthing facility. This may include a hospital, birthing centre, midwife, doula or whichever trusted facility that concerns these matters.

Water Birth At Home

When choosing to water birth at home, this often entails an inflatable birth pool or tub. A sterile liner is placed inside the sanitised vicinity. This is in order to uphold health and safety requirements. Usually when choosing a home water birth the midwife will specialise in this and be able to provide the necessary items for through out. However, it pays to ask and ensure this is the case.

There is a hose system set up to circulate clean water into the vicinity and if not, a bale is provided as someone circulates in clean water that way. And of course something that often slips peoples minds but is worth the mention, and that is making sure the structure underneath the vicinity can support the weight. As a full vessel can bear a lot of compact weight most homes can support this but it again pays to check just in case.

Water Birth At Hospital

The option to water birth in hospitals varies from place to place. The most common form of water immersion in hospitals is for pain relief purposes only. Where some pressure is reduced during labour. However, some places do offer the chance to give birth in the water. As these places are equipped to handle the process. Yet as always, calling in advance to see if this is a plausible option is the best route to go.

Regardless, if birthing at home or the hospital – it needs to be discussed with your midwife or doctor. In which they can provide further guidance and clarity on the processes to come.

Water Birth Benefits

There are many water birth pros and cons but a good place to start is with the major drawing card that encourages most women to choose water birth and that is the pain relief. As found in the first earliest record of water birth, there was notable pain relief when placed in water. Which only makes sense due to the buoyancy and reduced gravity effect that water has. The water not only makes the mother’s body feel lighter to the stresses and pulls of gravity during labour, but also relieve some of the pressure placed on the birthing canal and all the demands required upon it. The pain relief experienced from this was so immense, that many did not require an epidural.

Not only was there less pain, there was also less time in labour. A study conducted by Cochrane found that a labour conducted in water, shortened the first stage by an average of 32 minutes! Another study was conducted in China. This found a whopping average of 50 minutes less of labour compared to other methods. Multiple studies conducted all around the world correlate to these kinds of finds. (Studies found here)

Studies have also found there is a lower rate of tears, when water birthing. The same study held in China found that water births had a higher rate of intact perineum which was one in four women, as opposed to other methods of birthing which was less than one in thirteen. Also this study found that only one in fifty women had an episiotomy when water birthing, as opposed to one in five from the other birthing methods. A study on over 30,000 water births was conducted. Throughout the 11 countries: Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States. All which concluded that water birth did in fact lower the rate of episiotomies, severe tears and excess blood loss from the birth.

And with all the medical studies aside, the weightlessness of the water birth allows for a more comfortable experience for the mother in general. Due to the nature of the waters buoyancy, mothers are able to shift or arrange themselves in a way they deem suitable without the confines of a bed or navigating a pregnant body through the motions against gravity. This also suggests it may be more comfortable for the baby. As there is a high correlation between more relaxed comfortable babies and water birth.  Also with the freedom that water birth allows, the rate of skin to skin contact is pretty much immediate. Only adding to a more calm environment.

Water Birth Disadvantages

And as with the good, there is also the bad. But hopefully not too much though. A commonly found issue with water birth is that not every where offers water birth. And given the spontaneous nature of labour, water birth may not be the most readily available option. Most women arrange ahead of time to ensure their water birth option is still available. However, in some cases due to the unpredictability of life and labours, the option to water birth may not be accessible. Yet it never hurts to ask around or even contact a midwife who specialises in water birth, to keep this option open for you.

This is also the place to mention umbilical cord breakages. Although the number is low, it is still worth mentioning in an open and transparent manner for a better informed decision. Studies find that the rate of umbilical tears during water birth is 4.3 out of every 1000. As opposed to 1.3 out of every 1000 births from other birthing methods. The numbers of umbilical tears in general are low. However, we’re covering bases.

Plus the use of epidurals may not be available upon choosing to water birth. Some hospitals refuse to combine needles and water for many health and procedure reasons. The idea of injecting a needle into the spine while underwater is not feasible by many hospitals and practices, therefore making this option void.

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What To Wear

When it comes to the general theme of water birth that is to make the birthing experience more comfortable. And the same theme goes with clothing. Generally, wear whatever you feel comfortable in. Whether it is a bikini, tankini, bra, t-shirt, vest or even naked. Ultimately the choice of what to wear is very lenient. Just as long as the midwife can see what is happening and everything is accessible.

Water Birth Positions

When it comes down to the go time of labour the positions can vary. Many women choose to rest their head on the side of the pool and using it like a pillow. However there is also the option to lay on your back. Float on your stomach with your head tilted upwards to breathe. Squatting is also another option. Along with kneeling on a towel in the base of the pool. Or there is the option to have your birth partner more included in the process where they can support your back as you lean against them. There are many positions for the birthing process. In which the body tends to naturally form into to easily assist the baby to birth.

There are many pros and cons to water birthing. And it never hurts to stay informed. Allowing you to make the best decision for you, and bringing your baby into the world. 

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