Water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub or pool of warm water. In some cases, the labor part is done in water, then the delivery takes place outside. While in other cases, women stay in water for the whole process; labor and delivery. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated that water birth during the first stage of labor has some benefits, but delivering the baby underwater is considered an experimental procedure with risks.
The first stage starts with the contractions and ends when your cervix is fully dilated. As for stage two, it’s when the cervix is open, you exit the tub, and start pushing. The theory behind water birth is that since the baby has already been in the amniotic fluid sac for nine months, birthing in a similar environment is gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother.
Recommendations for water birth
- It should happen between week 37 and week 41 of pregnancy.
- The amniotic fluid should be clear.
- The baby should be in a head-down position.
Benefits and risks for the mother and the baby
Benefits of water birth:
- Water immersion might shorten labor time.
- Waterbirth might help you go through it without epidural or spinal anesthesia.
- Labor in water lowers the chances of cesarean birth.
- Warm water reduces stress-related hormones and helps the mother to produce endorphins that soothe the pain.
- Warm water increases the pregnant mother’s energy during pushing.
- Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and improves blood circulation, thus better oxygenation of the uterine muscles and less pain for the mother.
- Immersion helps lower blood pressure which is usually high during labor because of anxiety.
- Water makes the perineum become more elastic and relaxed, thus reducing the incidence and severity of tearing. The mother might not need episiotomy and stitches.
- Water embolism might occur. It’s when water enters the mother’s bloodstream.
- The woman might suffer from excessive vaginal bleeding.
- The baby might catch an infection.
- The baby’s body temperature may get extremely high or low.
- Perinatal mortality rates are higher than that of normal birth.
- The baby might inhale water if he/she is experiencing stress in the birth canal or if the umbilical cord becomes kinked or twisted.
- The umbilical cord might snap as the baby is brought to the surface of the water.
- The baby might develop respiratory distress.
Cases that are not recommended for a water birth
- If the woman suffers from herpes as it easily transfers in water.
- If the pregnant woman is diabetic.
- If the baby is premature or big in size.
- If the baby is in a breech position.
- If the woman suffered from excessive bleeding or maternal infection during pregnancy.
- If preterm labor is expected.
- If the pregnant mom had toxemia or preeclampsia.
- If the mother is older than 35 years old.
- If the mother has two or more cesarean deliveries.
Is water birth safe when carrying multiples?
Waterbirth is not quite recommended when the mother is pregnant with twins or multiples. These pregnancies do have a higher risk of premature birth and other issues that may need closer monitoring during labor and delivery.
Places where you can give water birth in Egypt
Mum’s Haven: Gentle Childbirth and water birth
Mawlood Clinic Obstetrics & Gynaecology
- Signs and Symptoms You Are Going Into Labor
- Everything You Need to Know About Giving Birth with a Doula
- Ultimate Hospital Packing Checklist For Labor Day
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Sources used in this article:
- Water births – American Pregnancy Association
- The Basics of Water Birth – WebMD
- Water Birth Pros and Cons: Is It Right for You? – Healthline
- A comparison of maternal and neonatal outcomes between water immersion during labor and conventional labor and delivery – BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth