If natural birthing is an interest of yours, waterbirthing might be the perfect option! Women across the world praise the gentle benefits this style of birthing has to offer, and, with increased popularity, waterbirthing is now accessible both at home and in some hospitals.
Waterbirth International details certain benefits of water labor and waterbirth such as:
• Facilitates mobility and change of positions
• Speeds up labor
• Reduces blood pressure
• Significant pain relief
• Conserves energy
• Reduces need for drugs and interventions
• Reduces perineal trauma & episiotomies (surgical cut/tear)
Another benefit is that many birthing pools/bathtubs are large enough for two people, allowing you and your partner to enjoy this experience together!
How does waterbirthing affect labor?
According to MIDIRS and the Royal College of Midwives, in the first stage of labor the use of water has been said to shorten overall laboring time and help women relax and cope with contractions. In the second stage, the use of water immersion helps perineal tissues to stretch and also allows a more gentle transition from intra to extra-uterine life for the newborn.
When transitioning from intra to extra-uterine life, some women may question how delivering underwater affects the baby’s first breath. Throughout pregnancy oxygen is delivered from mom’s lungs and travels through the bloodstream to the umbilical cord for the baby. The baby’s lungs are never actually inflating or filling with air while he/she is in the womb. This process is continued until the newborn takes it’s first breath of air after delivery (whether it is a cesarean section, normal vaginal delivery, or waterbirth). So, for the few seconds that the baby is under water after delivery, it’s pretty much functioning as if it were still inside mom and surrounded by a bunch of liquid.
If waterbirthing is an interest of yours, it is important to find a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about this particular birthing practice. Former experience with waterbirthing is essential!