Waterbirth is the process of giving birth in a tub or pool of warm water. You may labor in water and then choose to get out for delivery, or decide to stay in the water for the actual birth of your baby.
The theory of waterbirth is that the baby has been in the amniotic sac for nine months and emerging into a water environment is gentler and less stressful for both you and baby. It is the belief of many midwives, and a growing number of obstetricians, that reducing stress during labor and birth also reduces fetal and maternal complications. Newborns do not inhale until they are exposed to air – they receive oxygen through the umbilical cord until they start to breathe on their own.
BENEFITS OF WATER DURING LABOR & BIRTH
- Water is soothing, comfortable, relaxing
- Buoyancy lessens your bodyweight, allows free movement and new positioning
- Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and better blood circulation – this results in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles – less pain for you and more oxygen for the baby
- Water alleviates stress-related hormones, allowing your body to produce endorphins, which are pain-inhibitors!
- Immersion in water often helps reduce blood pressure levels which had increased due to anxiety
- Water provides a sense of privacy, which releases inhibitions, anxiety and fears
- As you relax physically, you are also able to relax mentally, concentrating your efforts inward on the birth process
- Warm water causes the perineum to become more elastic and relaxed, which reduces both the incidence and severity of tearing, lessening the need for stitches
- Eases the stress of birth, providing reassurance and security for the baby
(Source: American Pregnancy Association)