Giving birth in water offers numerous benefits, which include:
Many research studies have corroborated the fact that women using water for childbirth request less or no methods of pain relief. This is due in part to the fact that the touch of water on the nerve endings in the lower back can reduce the body's sensation in the abdominal region.
Giving birth in water counteracts the effects of gravity, making it easier for the mother to change positions and avoid placing pressure on the uterus. The heightened ability to assume different positions can be extremely helpful in birthing a large baby or allowing the baby to descend down the birth path.
When the mother is not anxious, her body is not apt to produce stress hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, or catecholamines. These hormones stimulate the body's fight-or-flight reaction, something not desired during labor. The hormones are stimulated when people feel the need to protect themselves, such as in a fight. I don't know about you, but I've never once called on my uterus to help me win a fight.
If these hormones are not present, the mother's body instead produces endorphins, which are the body's "feel good" hormones. They promote a sense of well-being and lessen sensations of pain or stress.
This is particularly beneficial to those mothers experiencing pregnancy-induced hypertension. As you enter the water, your blood pressure begins to drop. This effect can be a result of the interaction between your calm environment, increased relaxation, and anxiety reduction that are integral parts of giving birth in water.
When giving birth in water, the mother can become so relaxed that she may fall asleep! If a mother maintains this deep relaxation, she is able to halt the fear-tension-pain cycle that plagues so many mothers and have the relaxed, natural birth of her dreams. This relaxation along with the water exposure, allows the perenium to gently stretch, thus reduces the incidence of tearing.
This type of birth is usually chosen by a mother who values an intervention-free birth, one who views childbirth as a natural process, not a medical procedure. There is no routine IV or saline lock, no internal fetal monitor screwed into the baby's scalp, no time limits on labor, and no push to "speed things up" with a little kick of pitocin.
The mother is empowered, confident in the fact that she has the ability to birth her baby, free of the misperceptions of natural childbirth that so many people harbor. If, however, fetal monitoring becomes necessary, a hand-held Doppler with a waterproof cover or a pinard stethoscope may be used.
Giving birth in water, coupled with the relaxed, calm environment typical of a waterbirth, provides a soothing transition from the womb to the outside world. Their eyes are not subjected to harsh overhead lights, medicinal scents and the clutter and clanging of hospital equipment. Instead, they are allowed to acclimate at their own pace.
When having a waterbirth, the mother has executive control over her environment, from lighting choices and background noise to the aromas in the air and the towels she uses.
While these choices may at first glance seem trivial, mothers (and others) are often the most comfortable and relaxed at home. Even if your waterbirth is at a birthing center, these rooms are designed with the comforts of home in mind for the sole purpose of setting the mother at ease.
Giving birth in water had been correlated to shorter labors. However, labour can be slowed if the mother enters the water too soon.
In some cases, the third stage may be longer, but despite this, the overall labor and delivery time can be decreased. This can be due in part to the fact that the mother is relaxed, which makes each contraction more productive so that the baby descends faster and the rate of dilation and effacement of the cervix are also increased.
Page Last Modified by Catherine Beier, MS, CBE
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