W is for Water Birth (Plus Resources in Delaware)
Water birth is frequently called “nature’s epidural”, and for good reason! It is simple, easy, and effective for pain relief. Beyond that, relief is almost immediate when the laboring woman immerses herself in water. In one study, 72% of mothers said they would have a water birth again, as opposed to only 9% wanting to give birth on land again. With those statistics and all the anecdotes from families, this option is worth taking a look at. Let’s talk about water birth and how it can work for you!
What is Water Birth?
Anyone who gives birth in water has a water birth, whether she uses a birth tub or her bathtub at home. As long as the tub is clean and water isn’t too cold or hot (over 100 degrees F), it’s usually very safe and relaxing for the birth process. Hydrotherapy is what we call using water for pain relief during labor, meaning you can get in and out of the tub or shower for relief at home or at the hospital. It reduces the mother’s pain and stress level, easing labor and delivery. It’s also considered to be very gentle for baby and similar to the environment in the womb.
Why is it so Amazing?
Eases pain of contractions incredibly effectively
Gives feeling of weightlessness, makes position changes and movement easy
Increases maternal circulation, leading to more effective contractions and more oxygen for baby
Leads to 1 hour less labor
Lowers maternal blood pressure and stress level
79% of mothers experienced a Hands-Off delivery, leading to feelings of safety, comfort, and uninhibited labor
Less interventions overall - studies found fewer induction methods, need for pitocin, episiotomies, cesarean birth, etc
Can even reduce risk of 3rd and 4th degree tears
Less maternal blood loss and hemmorhage
Studies routinely show it is as safe as land birth
Eases transition to the world for baby
Moms who are happier with their birth experience may have better postpartum recoveries, healthier newborns, and even have better breastfeeding success rates
Real Life Water Birth Stories
What are the Risks?
There are potential risks, but not enough evidence to support them as reasons to avoid a home birth. Maternal reasons to avoid birthing in water (not laboring or showering) may include present infections or bleeding, an epidural being in place, or having an care provider who doesn’t support water birth. There are other concerns, such as meconium(the baby’s first bowel movement) being present in the water, but this is decided as an issue by you and your care provider.
Another risk factor includes something called an “umbilical cord snap”, when the umbilical cord is suddenly broken during the birth process. This can be avoided by carefully bringing the baby to the mother’s chest, and again, has not been proven to be an outright risk for every family as 3.1 in every 1000 cords snap. This isn’t always an emergency in itself, either.
How to Plan a Water Birth
Find a supportive care provider, check my list of resources here. A home birth midwife will usually supply a birth tub for you. As of right now, I have not heard of water birth as an option in Delaware area hospitals. Please let me know if you hear otherwise, and always ask about your options!
You could also rent or buy your own birth tub, or just make sure your tub at home is squeaky clean and comfortable. I’ve seen it done! The larger inflatable tub is absolutely easier for position changes, but the relief is the same. If you rent or buy, set it up beforehand to check that it’s functional and doesn’t have holes, etc.
If at home, create your birth space where your tub will be and make it your own, with music, candles, prayer flags, meditation altars, christmas lights, anything you want. Spend time relaxing in this space before labor starts.
Wait to get into the water until you are at least 5-6 cm dilated, or in active labor. Women have said their labor stalls when they get in too early, the water is just a little too helpful!
When the baby is delivering, stay immersed in the water until they are fully born and then bring them up to your chest slowly and gently. Enjoy your new baby! There’s no need to rush out of the water right away, get out when you feel ready. Have warm towels and a dry bed ready for you to relax in after delivery.
That’s it! I hope you found this article informative and helpful. For more details on resources, comments, or questions, you can reach me here. Thanks for reading, check back for more information on pregnancy and postpartum topics in Delaware.