Almost everyday, a warm water bath after a long tiring day is something we look forward to. Of course it is a natural fact that is warm water has a soothing effect on our body. Nothing beats that relaxing feeling when you are swimming or if you are immersed in water. This line of thinking is the reason behind t he growing popularity of water births.
The history of water births came with a French Obstetrician who was conducting experiments to improve labor techniques and lessen labor pain. He had a clinic set-up and he had women immerse themselves in warm water when their time to give birth is near. He set-up this warm water immersion technique so that the body would be relaxed and the pain would be lessened. However, some of the mothers didn’t want to get out of the water and continued giving birth in water. This practice spread, and the choice to give birth in water increased with a growing popularity.
Even though the recorded water birth was done by the French obstetrician, to give birth in water had already been a practice for couples who birth at home, and for those remote locations where hospitals are not nearby. Some midwives claim that water births have been an age old knowledge passed down from their mothers and grandmothers. But nowadays, to give birth in water are available in developed places.
The choice for water birth is steadily increasing because of its many advantages. Most women claim that the warm water helps ease their labor pains, so giving water birth is easier to do. Another factor is that being immersed in water helps stretch the perineum thereby lessening the need for episiotomy. Giving birth in the water also aids the delivery since the gravity tends to pull the baby out. There is also less pressure on the abdomen of the mother since the buoyancy of the water helps in the contractions. This promotes better blood circulation both to the mother and the baby. Compared to a bed birth, there is no danger of dropping the baby on the floor since it can easily float on the water. Also, being immersed in water helps both the mother and the baby to relax.
For the baby, being born in water is less stressful since this mimics the uterus where the baby has lived for the past nine months. The gentle transition is less traumatic and leads to less crying. The water also posts no danger to the baby since the baby instinctively knows which water to inhale and which should be swallowed. The baby is then able to breathe normally as soon as water is drained from the lungs.
Despite the many advantages of water birth, there are still some factors one needs to consider before opting for water birth. Some of these factors are infection, which is mostly due to the presence of feces in the giving birth water. Another is pre-mature labor. Water giving birth is not recommended if the infant has not reached full term. There is also the danger of excessive bleeding due to prolonged labor since it is said that warm water tends to slow down labor. But these risks and problems also arise from natural birthing methods. There are cases when hospital beds were not sanitized properly or the baby is exposed to bacteria from feces of the mother. There is still no way to have a 100% percent perfect pregnancy.
And from an emotional standpoint, women giving birth in water claim that it is the gentlest way to welcome a baby into this world. Rather than have the baby transition from a womb with water to air, as well as pulling the baby from the mother’s body into the hands of doctors, water births welcome babies in a serene environment. The baby simply transitions out from the mother and floats into the gentle water where they get lifted out slowly. Those who have had both natural and water birthing methods say that babies cry less with water births.
But always consider that as a rule of thumb, water births, just like natural births, should be strictly attended to and supervised by a highly qualified personnel, or trained care providers. The mother should also be thoroughly briefed on the procedure and also educated on the pros and cons of this alternative child birth. The mother’s obstetrical and medical conditions should be properly diagnosed by a physician as well.