Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Soothing Power of a Water Birth

During water birth, the mother enters a warm water bath and remains there for as long as she desires during labor and birth.  Some women labor in the water and get out to birth, others prefer to give birth in the water also.  There are a number of advantages to water birth:

* The warmth of the water soothes muscles that are sore or tired from laboring, as well as counteracting the effects of gravity and reducing any feeling of pressure in the back, buttocks, or other muscles during contractions.

* The warmth of the water encourages blood flow to the uterus, helping it do its job more effectively.

* Venous pressure is increased so that blood flowing to the heart returns more efficiently, slowing pulse rate.

* Being in the water reduces discomfort during contractions.

* Babies make a smooth transition from the warm water environment of the womb to the warm water of the bath, instead of the shocking coldness of a delivery room.

* There is some speculation that when a baby leaves the lightweight, buoyant environment of the womb and enters the normal environment of the outside world, the sudden change in gravity makes the brain suddenly heavier and destroys some sensitive nerve connections and brain cells.  Being born into water would help ease the transition.

* It is simply a pleasurable way to give birth.  The total body relaxation imparts a feeling of emotional satisfaction which helps the body produce more oxytocin and helps the uterus contract more effectively.  Remember, anxiety causes labor to slow down, satisfaction causes it to progress smoothly.

Some people are concerned that the baby might try to breathe while in the water and drown.  This is not a concern because:

1.  Baby has already been breathing liquid for nine months.

2.  Baby usually does not breath until the air hits his face.
3.  Baby is still receiving oxygen through the umbilical cord.
4.  Baby is raised to the surface in plenty of time to receive
     the air he/she needs.

At the present time here in Lawton, Oklahoma, hospitals will allow you to labor in a whirlpool tub unless your water breaks.  Then you will be required to exit the tub for the rest of your labor and delivery.

Many home birthers have water births right in their own bathtubs.  Some will purchase a metal tub from the local agricultural supply store or co-op.  There are some birthing tub suppliers from whom you can rent a tub for your birth.  You must then pay the shipping to have it returned to them after the birth.  Some even purchase a large inflatable swimming pool and have their birth outside, or in their living room.

I would encourage you to think of water birth as an option.  When your body starts sending you messages of discomfort or unrest, these often can be alleviated by the warmth or buoyancy of the water.

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