About Water Births
Having a home water birth is increasingly becoming popular as mothers continue to discover it’s benefits. It is safe for mums and offers special benefits to the baby which may not be achieved anywhere else. Giving birth is a unique experience for every woman, and each birth will be a different. A natural birth can be at home or in hospital – it’s all about personal choice. Most midwifes will happily support you should you wish to have a home water birth. A relaxing home water birth is an ideal way for your baby to start its new life.
Dr Julia Sanders, a consultant midwife, and a member of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which drew up guidelines in June 2006, said “There is a perception that water is just nice, but it is the most effective form of pain relief barring an epidural in labour.
“Birthing pools are second only to epidurals in alleviating pain.”
“All expectant mothers should be offered a water birth for the safest form of pain relief”
“I would like to see more women using water and fewer women using the types of pain relief that are less effective.”‘
Benefits of Using a Birthing Pool
Easing of pain
The University of Southampton, once conducted an experiment with 99 participating mothers. 49 mothers delivered in a birthing pool while 50 went through the traditional medical setting. Two-thirds of the participants who gave birth in the hospital required pain-relieving medication while only half of mothers who used birthing pool needed epidural analgesic for relief. This shows that water has a soothing and relaxing capacity which reduces the occurrence of pain. Another explanation is the production of pain-easing hormones endorphins and oxytocin, which were induced by immersion in water.
Reduced or complete absence of tearing of the perineum
Immersion in the water decreases the pressure against the abdomen and the back, which contributes to decreased damage to the perineum. Moreover, the warm water softens the perineum to increase flexibility. Less tearing means there is very little need for episiotomy or stitching after childbirth. Squatting or kneeling while water birthing also helps in reducing the extent of tearing.
Relaxed environment for birth
Buoyancy and the refreshing warmth of the water create a sense of relaxation, lightness, and ease in mobility. Relaxation allows for better contractions and an easier delivery. It also helps the mother focus more on giving her child a successful birth. Mary Newburn of the National Childbirth trust states that using a birthing pool eases the first stage of labor, which helps for a faster delivery. How is this made possible by relaxation? The study found that stress causes the production of hormones which slow down the rate of giving birth. Relaxation, on the other hand, increases the production of hormones which aid in successful delivery.
More mobility and freedom to change into different positions
Due to the effects of buoyancy, a mother in water can change to different positions to make herself feel more comfortable. This makes kneeling and squatting possible, which are the more natural positions for giving birth.
Stronger support from the partner
The partner can be immersed with the mother in the water while she is giving birth. The emotional and physical support that a partner can give is another excelling benefit of water births.
Feeling of privacy and security
Water creates the sense of privacy which eases anxiety and restriction. This allows a mother to behave instinctively and more freely. A birthing pool can also be set up at home; this option adds the benefit of giving birth at home, which makes the mother feel more relaxed, in control, and emotionally secure.
Benefits of a home water birth
Risked of infection is reduced.
Babies born at home are not exposed to the germs and microbes of a hospital setting. While hospitals take extra care in order to ensure the health of everyone, the baby’s fragile immune system may not be strong enough to ward off some infection-causing germs. It has been found that infection rate at home is less than half compared to the hospitals
Intimate environment for birth
At home the situation is more intimate, your partner will probably feel more at ease with giving you a back or foot massage, and comfort you during labour. Or can just boil the kettle for a nice cup of tea for the midwives and you.
Partner staying with you
Another benefit of your partner staying with you is that you are not left to your own devices during your contractions. When you are vulnerable and in pain it can be very scary for some women to be left with strangers, rather than with their partner.
You can have more than one birth partner
You can have more than one birth partner, but it can make all the difference to you if your Mum could be present, or your sister or best friend. Or maybe you have older children who you would like to have present at this special moment. Whatever you choose, it will be possible in your own home because no-one (except maybe your partner) can restrict you in who are present in your home.
No visiting time
Also there’s no visiting time in your own home, so Daddy gets to be a part of all the early moments, and is there to help and support you.
A homebirth can be a very meaningful experience not only for the Mum, Dad and Baby but for the whole family as well.