If you’ve never gone swimming while pregnant, give it a try! It is miraculous how the buoyancy of the water will relieve a lot of the pressure on your body. Hence, it’s completely understandable from that perspective to see why so many mothers want to birth in the water.
Water Birth Pros And Cons
There are many fantastic benefits beyond just feeling a bit weightless during labor & delivery. There are also a few risks too that we’ll talk about. So if you’re considering having a home water birth, here’s what you need to know to weigh your water birth pros and cons!
Advantages Of Water Births
The nice thing is that more and more birthing centers and even hospitals are providing the means for mothers to have the option of birthing in the water. Check with your local facility if that’s what you’d like to consider.
But if you’re on the fence about even considering a water birth, here are the key benefits you’ll love! Plus, I have a checklist for you down below!
Water is a natural solution to pain relief, especially when it’s warm. You know that soaking in a bath tub, or relaxing in the downpour of a hot shower always does the body good. The fluidity and heat transfer with water naturally relaxes your muscles and relieve any aches or pains that you may be experiencing.
More Able To Relax
Now because your pain is significantly decreased, you’re able to relax much better through your labor. Dr Bradley shares a story [easyazon_link identifier=”055338516X” locale=”US” tag=”mynatbabbir06-20″]in his book[/easyazon_link] about a mother that he worked with who was also a swimmer. She was able to perfect the relaxation during her labor and he asked her how she did it.
She responded that she would pretend that she was floating in water at the pool. And in order to float well, you have to relax. So the two ideas tie together very well.
Ease Of Changing Positions
If you don’t want to birth in the water, you can still labor in it and get out to bare down. It’s also much easier to move through the water in order to change positions.
The water acts helps lift you and your joints and muscles don’t have to strain so much to move around like when you’re out of the water.
Many mothers feel that birthing into the water is the most natural delivery their baby can experience. They’ve been in water for nine months. So the transition into water from your birth canal is a gentler awakening into the world.
More Effective Labor
The buoyancy you feel in the water promotes more efficient uterine contractions. So when the pressure is relieved on your body and distributed into the water, your uterus can contract better without the added strain against it.
This in turn improves blood circulation and helps get the much needed oxygen into your muscles. This also increases in more oxygen for the baby, which helps their experience become less stressful.
When you’re soaking in the water, it helps your perineum become more elastic. So the stretchier it is, the better you can open up when your baby’s head comes through. Which results in less chances of tearing or need for episiotomy. Thank heaven!
Greater Feeling Of Privacy
Let’s face it … when you’re on a hospital bed spread eagle, it’s not the most comfortable feeling to get used to. Being able to stay in the water helps eliminate that anxiety for some mothers.
Even though you’re likely completely naked in the water, being underneath that layer gives the feeling of privacy. Privacy helps you be more in tune with your body and natural instincts.
Of course, there are risks in any given birthing situation. But some of the risks seen with water births are unique to the situation. So be aware of these and you can weigh the pros and cons for you own situation and comfort levels.
Related: Pregnancy Risks After Age 35
According to the Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists, there might be a theoretical risk of water embolism. This happens when water enters the mother’s blood stream. In such a case, immediate medical assistant may be necessary.
Baby Gasping For Air
This idea is that if the baby’s umbilical cord becomes pinched, they may try to gasp for air and end up inhaling water, according to the British Medical Journal. However, this is considered super rare because babies don’t normally inhale while still in water. They receive their oxygen through their cord until it is severed.
If you have an infectious illness at the time of delivery, or a diseases like Herpes, those transfer easily in water. The risk of your baby catching that same infection or condition is higher. You should consult with your provider if this is your situation.
On the other hand, there’s also a longtime belief that if your waters have already broken, a broken sac leads to an infection risk for the baby. But a specific study done by Dr. Michel Odent reported no infections with all the mothers and babies birth in water after having their membranes broken.
There is also some controversy about whether or not you should be allowed to labor in water with a broken sac if you are GBS positive. Check with your midwife or doctor for the latest recommendations and they’ll help you make that decision.
Sometimes laboring in the water has been known to slow down contractions from lack of movement. But if you’re well established into a strong pattern of contractions, this shouldn’t be the case for you.
Keep in mind that walking is one of the best ways to keep your labor moving along. But you can absolutely have a great labor while resting and relaxing like I did in my second birth.
Find The Right Facility
If you decide that you’d still like to move forward with a water birth, figure out exactly where you plan on having your birth. Many facilities aren’t equipped for water births or even allow them. I don’t want you to be stressed when you stroll through the local birthing center or hospital on a tour and learn that they don’t allow water births.
If you’ve decided you want to birth from home, that’s fantastic! I created a checklist specifically for your water birth of all the things that you’ll need before hand. Make sure your husband and midwife are also informed so they can make sure you’re prepared as well. Grab your free checklist below!
Having a water birth at home is always an option, but it takes a bit more preparation and planning on your part too. So hopefully you’ll have decided this is what you’d like to do at least a few months in advance so you can be prepared.