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 water birth 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.
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 and the need for stitches. (need for episiotomy REMOVED)
- As the laboring women 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