10.20.2015

6 Benefits of Water Birth

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Water birth is not a new concept. Women throughout history have given birth in water, however, with the advent of modern medicine, the practice became less common. In recent years, water birth is experiencing a revival as more women choose this method for giving birth. For myself, I wanted to have the option of water birth available to me, but it was not a do-or-die birth plan. I was open to the idea, but was also open to having my baby where ever I felt most comfortable in our home. Turns out, the most comfortable place was in the water!

So what actually are the benefits of a water birth?

#1 – Pain Relief. Submersion in a warm water tub has been shown to provide significant pain relief. Women report that the pain is greatly reduced when they labor and deliver in the water. Some experienced mothers report that the water was nearly as effective as medicinal pain relievers or epidurals making it an effective alternative to pain medications for women wanting a drug free birth.. Water works by blocking the pain impulses in the nerves of the body.

#2 – Movement. The added buoyancy of the water can make it easier to assume and change labour positions. The freedom of movement in and of itself can decrease the sensation of pain. This buoyancy can also help the laboring mother conserve energy so she doesn’t have to support her full weight. Between contractions many women enjoy relaxing while allowing their bodies to float.

#3 – Relaxation. Achieving maximum relaxation is crucial to an easier and less painful labor. Warm water helps to soothe tight and tired muscles during labour. There is a reason that many women enjoy a long, relaxing soak in the tub after a long day. As you relax in the warmth of the water, your cares seem to melt away. Relaxation is very important during labor. When the mother is tense, the tension can actually slow the progress of labour. Relaxing through the contractions is much more effective.

#4 – Easier transition for the baby:  Your baby has been living in an aquatic environment for the past nine months. During birth, he leaves the comfort of the womb for the cold air of the delivery room. When the baby is born in the water, the transition is easier for him. Rather than hitting the cold air, he is born into a familiar world, warm and wet. After the birth, the baby is not whisked off to a cold exam table, but allowed to be snuggled by his mother int he warmth of the water. This is a more peaceful entrance for the baby and a special time for the new family.

#5 – Reduced abdominal pressure: Much of the pain in labour is caused by increased pressure in the abdomen. As the baby moves through the pelvis, this pressure increases. The natural buoyancy that occurs from being in the water helps relieve this pressure. This results in relaxed muscles and less pain. Increased relaxation allows women to dilate more quickly resulting in a shorter labour on average.

#6 – Reduced interventions. Giving birth in water reduces medical interventions including c-sections, episiotomies, and the need for stitches. It can also help to lower blood pressure.

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