Water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub of warm water. Some women choose to labor in the water and get out for delivery. Other women decide to stay in the water for the delivery as well. The theory behind waterbirth is that the baby has been in the amniotic sac for 9 months and birthing into a similar environment is gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother.
It is the belief of midwives, birthing centers and a growing number of obstetricians, that reducing the stress during labor and delivery also reduces fetal complications. Water birth should always occur under the supervision of a health care provider.
What are the potential benefits of water birth?
Benefits for Mother:
- Water is soothing, comforting, relaxing.
- In the later stages of labor, the water seems to increase the woman’s energy.
- The buoyancy lessens her body weight, allows free movement and new positioning.
- Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and better blood circulation, resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, less pain for the mother, and more oxygen for the baby.
- Immersion in water often helps lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety.
- Water seems to alleviate stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins, which are pain-inhibitors.
- Water causes the perineum to become more elastic and relaxed, which reduces the incidence and severity of tearing.
- As the laboring woman relaxes physically she is able to relax mentally, concentrating her efforts inward on the birth process.
- The water provides a sense of privacy, which releases inhibitions, anxiety, and fears.
Benefits for Baby:
- Provides a similar environment as the amniotic sac.
- Eases the stress of the birth, providing reassurance and security.
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