Underwater birth

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Giving birth to a baby is an unforgettable experience, both because it means bringing a new life into the world and because it can involve a lot of pain and anxiety. Some mothers-to-be opt to give birth in a pool or tub of warm water. They believe it is a much more natural and less stressful experience for them and their new baby.

There is also the idea that a water birth gives women more control over their own delivery by letting them choose something other than the traditional bed delivery. Water birth is still considered an alternative birthing method, and not every doctor is convinced that it is safe. However, more and more hospitals are beginning to offer water births as a delivery option.

A water birth is, as the name implies, giving birth in water. The idea is that the warm water replicates the feeling of the amniotic sac that has surrounded the baby throughout the nine months of pregnancy. A water delivery can be done in a bathtub, hot tub (with the temperature turned down), or other pool of water. You can have a water delivery at home, in a birthing center, or in a hospital.

What are the benefits of a water birth?

Here are some of the potential benefits of a water delivery:

  • Water provides natural buoyancy, which makes the mother feel lighter.
  • Water relaxes the mother, allowing her to concentrate on the birth.
  • Water relaxes the mother's muscles, enabling her to move into different positions.
  • Water eases the baby's transition from the womb to the world.
  • A water birth shortens the first stage of labor and reduces the need for anesthesia.

Is water birth safe?

For most women the method is safe. You have the option of delivering the child while submerged in the water, or alternating between dry and wet surfaces, giving birth in a traditional bed. The baby is safe to enter the world through the pool, moving seamlessly from the wet womb to the pool water. He or she will breathe normally once he/she is exposed to air.

What are the risks of water births?

  • In rare cases, the baby may gasp while still in the birthing tub and inhale water.
  • The umbilical cord may snap during a water birth
  • If the water in the pool is not clean, there is a possible risk of infection.

Can I have a water birth?

Yes, you can:

  • if you are not diagnosed with an infection or excessive bleeding, or you have a pregnancy-related complication.
  • if you do not have the virus “herpes”, because the infection can pass to the baby through the water.
  • if you are not at a risk of preterm labor.
  • if you are not having twins or other multiples.

Before making the decision, talk to your doctor to make sure that a water birth is safe and appropriate for you.