With its numerous advantages over
a regular delivery, water birth is fast becoming a preferred option for
women worldwide. Not only is this type of delivery less painful for the
mother, this type of birth has advantages for the baby too.
What is it all
A water birth is a birth that takes
place when the mother is submerged in water during labour. The baby is
expelled from the uterus into the water, and then slowly raised outside
the water tub.
Water has a very analgesic and soothing
effect. If a woman in labour lies down in a warm tub, her body relaxes
and is less likely to secrete stress-related hormones. Women achieve a
certain level of comfort in water that reduces fear and stress levels.
Is there less
Water divides pressure equally on
all parts of a woman in labour, thereby reducing pain. Also, as her stress
levels decrease, her sensory stimulation is reduced. As a result, the mother-to-be
can concentrate calmly on the birth process. This allows her body to produce
the pain inhibitors -- endorphins -- that compliment labour.
As the lower half of the body is
under water, the blood supply to the uterus is increased. Naturally, contractions
of the uterus are faster and more efficient. The mother also feels less
pressure on the abdomen and uterus with contractions.
Almost after every regular delivery,
a woman has to undergo several stitches. As the foetus emerges from the
vaginal canal, the perineum tissue is stretched to a tearing point. Often
physicians use a minor surgical incision (episiotomy) to facilitate faster
delivery. But due to episiotomy, a woman undergoes a painful and prickly
sensation even after labour. The stitches heal after three weeks.
When a woman gives birth underwater,
her tissues are softened and more elastic and therefore less likely to
tear. And even if they do tear, they are usually minor surface tears.
Better for the
During a normal delivery, a newborn
baby is forced to move from a comfortable watery womb to an alien environment.
In water birth, the baby gently travels from the amnio fluids of the womb
to a warm birthing water tub. Water thus provides for a gentle birth.
No, a baby does not drown due to
the water birth method. When the baby is in the uterus, it has no contact
with outside air and has no need to use its lungs. It gets oxygen from
the umbilical cord. A baby breathes only when the skin comes in contact
with air. Therefore, water birth is safe for the baby too.
When should a
mother enter the water?
Sometimes water may relax the mother-to-be
too much. This might slow down labour. Therefore, staying active during
labor is beneficial. Ideally, a woman should wait until her labor progresses.
However, there can be no rules in this regard. It should be left to the
woman. It largely depends on the dilation of the uterus.
Where can you
get it done?
Water births are natural and the
entire purpose is to go through the birth process without the interference
of doctors and hospitals. Most people from around the globe prefer to do
it at home, assisted by a midwife. It is best, however, to speak to your
gynaecologist for further advice.