There are many benefits of water birth, whether you just labour in the water, or give birth in water, it can really help your labour in many ways.
Using a birth pool can increase the possibility of having a natural birth, which can be of great benefit to mum and baby, enhancing your bond at birth and during the immediate postpartum period.
Dr Michel Odent was the first to publish a a paper about water birth, in 1983. There has not been a lot of specific research since then, but we have referred to some of it below.
12 Benefits of a Water Birth
- Improved relaxation – warm water relaxes your muscles, and your cervix is a muscle. Relaxing will enable your cervix to open, allowing baby to birth more easily and quickly.
- Better body support – having a water birth aids mobility, conserves energy, and so provides a greater opportunity to remain upright. The buoyancy of being in the water allows your body and pregnant belly to be supported
- Feeling of privacy – like most animals, humans like to labour privately in a quiet place, with minimal light. A birth pool creates a cocoon-like feeling which adds to this feeling of privacy.
- Quicker labour – when you are relaxed, it allows your natural hormones to kick in and can lead to a more efficient labour. Wait until you are in established labour (with your cervix at about 4cm) before you hop in, for the best results.
- Significant pain relief – pain scores of women birthing in water have been almost half that of mums birthing on land (Torkamani et al 2010, Mollamahmutoglu et al 2012)
- Reduces need for anaesthetics – fewer birthing women need any form of medical pain relief (Otigbah et al 2000, Geissbuehler et al 2004, Chaichian et al 2009, Torkameni et al 2010)
- Non-intervention – without the use of pain relief medication, women are less likely to fall into the “cascade of intervention”, and so more likely to have a vaginal birth
- Assisting a posterior labour – reduces pressure on mum’s back, and gives better support enabling baby to turn more easily
- Easier pushing – you are supported by the water, and using an inflatable pool may add to your comfort level as you have a cushioned base beneath you and inflatable sides to lean on
- Higher possibility of spontaneous vaginal birth – no vacuum or forceps used (Chaichian et al., 2009) or need for a casaerean section (Henderson et al., 2014 and Lukasse et al., 2014)
- Reduces perienal trauma – eliminate the need for an episiotomy and better chance of birthing with an intact perineum (Otigbahl et al., 2000, Geissbuehler et al. 2004)
- Peaceful for baby – gentle birth into water which is the same temperature as inside the womb, and then bub is gently drawn out into the air, usually on to mum’s chest for skin-to-skin contact and that first breast feed.
Is water birth right for you?
If you are interested in having a water birth, or just labouring in the water, ask your care provider how to make this possible. Most women can have the opportunity of exploring the benefits of water birth, even if you need to be monitored in labour, just ask for a waterproof monitor to be used.
If you need your own birth pool, either because you are having a home birth, or because your hospital or birth centre can’t provide one or guarantee that a birth pool will be available, start your research early to find one, to ensure you don’t miss out.
Birth Partner has a selection of birth pools available for hire or to buy, so please let us now if we can assist in any way. Contact Nicole by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on either 02 9522 6222 or 0402 405 889 if you would like to discuss
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