Water birth is the process of giving birth in a large tub/pool of warm water. Some women choose to labor in the water and birth on land; other women may opt to stay in the water for birth as well. The theory behind water birth is that the baby has been in the amniotic sac for 10 months and birthing into a similar environment is gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother.
It is the belief and also experience of midwives, birthing centers and a growing number of obstetricians around the world, that reducing the stress during labor and delivery also reduces fetal complications.
Potential Benefits of Water Birth:
- Water is soothing, comforting, relaxing
- In the later stages of labor, often the water seems to increase the woman’s energy
- The buoyancy decreases how she feels her body weight, allows free movement and ease of new positionings.
- 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 to lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety.
- Water seems to alleviate stress-related hormones, enabling 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 and the need for episiotomy and stitches.
- 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 supportiveness and privacy, which releases/decreases inhibitions, anxiety, and fears.
- Provides a similar environment as the amniotic sac
- Eases the stress of the birth, providing reassurance and security