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  Water birth – Benefits
 
I live close to a hospital that has a water birth facility, but I can’t believe that it can make much of a difference. Am I wrong?

The reason that water births have gained in popularity since the 1960’s when they were first researched, is that the benefits for both mother and baby are so marked. The main comment that mothers seem to make is that the pain of labour is much more manageable when supported by the warm water. It is not uncommon for a woman to use the water to ease her labour, and then leave the water for the delivery.

The warmth and peace of a birthing pool is generally very calming for a labouring woman. The support of the water allows her to adopt postures which relieve the labour pain and assist the process, much more easily than would have been the case on land. Just being more relaxed can be enough to help labour along, and many women comment on the increased sense of privacy and of being in control that the water seems to provide. The buoyancy of the water reduces the strain that the labouring body is experiencing, and enables the upright position to be maintained with less effort, thus further assisting the progress of labour.

Research has shown that all these factors contribute towards a reduced time in labour as well as a reduction in the amount of drugs and other interventions required for a successful birth.. It is best if the woman only enter the water once labour is well established, and the cervix is dilated around 5 – 7 cm. Evidence suggests that labouring in water is a way of optimizing the hormone output of the woman’s body, and that this is best accomplished in a well established labour, so that the stimulation experienced is able to continue long enough to achieve a successful outcome.

The important thing to remember is that you should follow your instincts. If you feel this is not an experience that would work for you, then that is a perfect decision for you. However, since you are in the enviable position of having a birthing pool nearby, it may be worth a visit. You may feel that once you have seen the facility and interacted with the staff, that it could be an option for you.

Remember also that birth is an unpredictable event. Should you decide to use the facility, there is no guarantee that it will work out. Your doctor or midwife may decide that it is not appropriate for you ( for example if your waters break but your labour has not started by the next day) or you may decide on the day that it is not the right option. Be flexible, and remember, a healthy baby is the most important outcome.

See also:

Water birth - Reasons not to

Water birth - Safety of baby


 
   
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