Water has been used over the ages to for labour and during actual child birth. On closer examination, the baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid all throughout its stay in the womb. Water birth considerably eases the baby’s transition from inside the mother’s womb to the outside world. The benefits of water birth include being less traumatic for the baby when it is born from a “watery” environment into another “watery” environment, for example in a tub. Studies have shown that when babies are born under water, they require less oxygen immediately after birth. Water birth has been shown to increase oxygen supply to the brain, kidneys and liver, giving lifelong benefit to the baby.
For the mother too, being in water during labour reduces labor pains substantially, as water has a therapeutic effect. Mothers who labour in water have been found to be more calm and serene. Pushing is less painful in warm water, as the perineal tissues stretch more easily. Such a birth is more gentle both on the mother and on the baby.
Much has been written about water birth, and its benefits. Here are the most important ones that we see, in no particular order:
- Water is soothing, comforting and relaxing
- The buoyancy of water increases the mother’s mobility, allowing her to shift and change positions easily
- Most mothers are able to relax better both during contractions, but most importantly, relax deeply to the point of even sleeping between contractions
- The levels of relaxation further increase release of oxytocin, which makes for better contractions
- Along with better blood circulation, this means better oxygenation to the uterine muscles, and lesser pain to the mother. Most women that we know, once they go into water in their labour, seldom want to come out of it
- Once the mother starts to perceive less pain, she starts to be less anxious. This allows for better release of endorphins, called “nature’s narcotics”. These endorphins allow the mother to go into a dream-like state, which allows her to focus internally on the task of giving birth to her baby, shutting out unnecessary external disturbances
- Regulates dysfunctional labour, helping the cervix to relax
- Length of labor is shortened. There are studies supporting this
- No wonder water is called “Watermerol” or “Aquadural”. None of the side effects of an epidural, but all the benefits of reduced pain!!
- Less internal exams!! Now, who does not want that?
- No episiotomies!
- Water makes the perineal muscle
Dr Vijaya KrishnanDr Vijaya Krishnan
relax, allowing for slow and better stretching of the vaginal area (especially since the mother is in control) and decreases incidences of tearing and subsequent need for sutures
Benefits to the baby
- More blood to baby due to better blood circulation in the mother
- Provides a similar environment as the baby has always known inside his or her mom
- Eases the stress of birth for the baby
- Better skin-to-skin, undisturbed mother-baby bonding (remember they are in their cocoon) and so better opportunities for breast feeding
Below is a link to a video on water birth from Dianne Garland, one of the world’s most prominent experts on this subject:
Reprinted with permission from www.healthy-mother.com
This article was provided by WeAreTheCity Hyderabad Lead Anju Arora.
About Dr Vijaya Krishnan
Dr. Vijaya Krishnan is a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), and the co-founder and Director of Healthy Mother Sanctum, Natural Birth Center, and the leading official Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) in India. She is a graduate of the Midwifery Program from National College of Midwifery, USA. Vijaya has also been inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators (FACCE) in recognition of the outstanding work she is doing to bring about positive, sustainable change in birth practices in India. She is also the Chapter Leader of ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network), and runs the Healthy Mother Breastfeeding Support Network in Hyderabad.