Women throughout history have given birth in water. With the advent of modern medicine and pain relief options, water birth has became less common. However, in recent years, water birth is experiencing a revival as more women choose this method for giving birth. Here are a few of the benefits to giving birth in the water.
by Patricia Hughes
Water birth is not a new concept. Women throughout history have given birth in water. 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. There are many benefits to giving birth in the water.
Benefits of Water Birth
Better relaxation: Water aids in relaxation. 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 labor. Relaxing through the contractions is much more effective.
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. Water works by blocking the pain impulses in the nerves of the body. Water is an effective alternative to pain medications for women wanting a drug free birth.
Reduced abdominal pressure: Much of the pain in labor 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.
Greater involvement of the partner, spouse or coach: The husband or partner often feels pushed to the side during labor and birth. Nurses, doctors, doulas and other personnel seem to take over. This doesn’t happen with a water birth. The laboring mother relies on her partner for comfort and focus. The husband often gets in the water behind his wife to offer support and encouragement.
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 and breastfed. This is a more peaceful entrance for the baby and a special time for the new family.
Not very long ago it was nearly impossible to have a water birth in a hospital. The only way to have this type of birth experience was with a midwife either in a birthing center or a home birth. A growing number of hospitals are offering water births, as the medical community becomes more aware of the benefits and expectant mothers voice their opinions.
If you want a water birth, the health care provider you choose will be essential. When interviewing doctors and midwives ask questions about their feelings about water birth. If the doctor doesn’t do water births or the hospital doesn’t have the necessary facilities, you may want to look for another health care provider.
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.
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