Benefits of Water Birth

A Safe Alternative

Although water birth is still considered an alternative method of birthing a baby, it is gaining popularity as a delivery option. Many more doctors and hospitals are coming onside with the concept while some are still unconvinced of the safety of water birth.

The fact is that having a baby is an unforgettable experience, probably because of the amount of pain and anxiety that surrounds birth. Mothers-to-be who opt for a water birth do so because they believe it to be a gentler, less stressful and more natural way to birth their babies.

10 Reasons to Have a Water Birth

Advocates of water birth provide a long list of benefits, some of which are included here:

· Provides greater comfort and mobility because the mother can move around with greater ease to change position in order to help the baby descend the birth canal.

· There is a reduction in pressure on the abdomen as a result of the buoyancy the water provides. Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and better blood circulation. The result is better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, less pain for the mother and more oxygen for the baby.

· Water buoyancy also helps the mother conserve her energy. Immersion in water reduces the opposition to gravity, supporting the mother's weight so that her energy can be used to focus on the contractions.

· The comfort of the warm water promotes deeper relaxation. Relaxation causes hormones to respond and the labor progresses better, more efficiently.

· The pelvic floor muscles become relaxed in water.

· Pain is minimized in water reducing the need for medications for pain.

· Water facilitates the second stage of labor. Many women are less inhibited in water and the warm water softens the vagina, vulva, and perineum, leading to fewer tears and injuries.

· A woman feels empowered when she delivers her baby while remaining awake, aware and in control. It enhances the birth experience for her and enriches her life though a sense of personal strength.

· It's easier for men to become more involved in the entire process because the woman's pain level and stress is greatly reduced. Usually men cannot endure seeing their partners in extreme pain or stress. Water birth significantly reduces that concern.

· Better interactions with the child ensue as a mother who has had a beautiful experience birthing her child will have an especially positive association with the baby and likewise, the baby who has not had trauma in birth will be relaxed and positive with the mother.

During the water birth, both mother and baby should be attended by someone who is well experienced in water births to monitor the progress of the labor and the condition of the baby. There are special underwater Doppler devices that can keep track of the baby's heartbeat and, if the birth is done in a hospital or birthing center, IV lines can be run if necessary.

What are the Risks of Water Birth?

There have not been a lot of research studies done on water birthing but of those that have been done there is little citing of risks. Some studies find that water birth is just as safe as bed birth, if not safer. There are some potential risks involved in water birth and they have been identified as:

· Baby inhaling tub water immediately upon birth. This is a very rare occurrence with only a handful of cases in which babies breathed birthing pool water into their lungs and nearly drowned. Babies don't take their first breath of air until their skin hits the air and the umbilical cord becomes cold.

· Rare cases of the umbilical cord snapping during a water birth and the baby needing a transfusion because of uncontrollable bleeding.

· If the water in the pool is not clean, there is a possible risk of infection. Isolated reports of infection have been made.

Overall, these risks are countered with studies that show no instances of babies breathing in tub water or catching infections from the water.

The potential for making the birth experience gentle and delightful is an encouraging and pleasant prospect.

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