The pros and cons of a water birth
H2O is so widely utilised in society that we often use water in our daily lives without even knowing it. As well as providing the best way to hydrate through the foods we eat and the beverages we drink, water is a key accessory when looking after your physical health and mental wellbeing.
Those warm showers and baths are particularly relaxing after a long day, whilst that invigorating weekly swim offers the perfect way to get in shape and stay in shape. For women currently carrying a bundle of joy, water can unlock further advantages as they approach their due date.
Throughout your pregnancy, you may have found water a great comfort using it to relax or exercise safely at every stage. But could water be a useful tool when delivering your child?
According to Which?, around 20% of women who gave birth in England used water to access vital pain relief, with half going on to deliver their babies in birthing pools.
They’re great for mum and baby
Those having a water birth can look forward to a number of advantages for both mum and baby. One of the most important benefits of a water birth is easy access to natural pain relief. Warm water is and can actively help you to manage contraction pains. Notably,Notably, have shown that those who give birth in water are less likely to need other pain-relieving drugs.
The length of labour and the risk of tears are also reduced when giving birth in water as Mother and Baby explains:
“Research has shown that being in the pool can reduce the length of the first stage of labour (the part when your cervix is dilating) by an average of 32 minutes.
Other tials have found birth in water to be associated with lower rates of tearing and episiotomy, perhaps due to more upright birthing positions in the pool and because the water acts like a warm compress on the perineum – reminiscent of the age-old midwifery technique of hot towels and water to reduce tears.”
Water births can give mothers-to-be more confidence to face labour head on, with the enhanced sense of privacy and control having its own calming effects. Water births are thought to be a more positive experience for the baby too.
Your baby will transition from one underwater environment to another for a more relaxing and peaceful journey into the world.
Water births aren’t for everyone
The lack of water birthing suites available at hospitals is one of the main barriers that prevent most women from experiencing a water birth. Many mothers-to-be may also find the thought of giving birth in water more daunting due to their own personal preferences.
Water is a recommended form of pain relief, yet some may feel that it doesn’t provide enough comfort for them.
When having a water birth, you are restricted to the methods of pain relief you can access. Just gas and air (or Entonox) is available to those who choose to give birth in water.
Your medical history may not make you a suitable candidate for water births either. Those who have experienced heavy bleeding during their pregnancy; suffer from diabetes, epilepsy, or another medical condition; or go into labour before 37 weeks are generally not permitted to have water births. Only low-risk -others are able to have water births. Complications during labour can also make giving birth in water unsuitable for you.
Thinking of breastfeeding your newborn? Look after your baby and yourself with our guide to staying hydrated when breastfeeding.