We all want our little ones to have the best possible start in life, and this begins with giving birth. Water birth, birthing your baby immersed in water, is something that more mothers-to-be are considering.
The increasing popularity of water birth is no surprise, when you take into account that water makes labor easier, is a great pain reliever, and makes for a less dramatic change from womb to world for babies. What are the benefits of giving birth in water, and what do you need to know about the practicalities of water births?
If you’re considering giving birth in water, you will need a birthing pool, a big jacuzzi, or even a so-called “fishy pool” — those big garden pools that kids like to have a splash in during the summer. Birthing immersed in water is easier to realize for those mothers who are intending to have homebirths, though birthing pools are gaining popularity in hospitals and birth centers as well.
Homebirth mothers can either buy or rent a birth pool, or sometimes midwives bring a pool as part of their service. There is a huge variety of birthing pools on the market — from small and modest pools to huge pools with their own heating systems.
Warm water relaxes the body, and can even slow down contractions in some cases. That is why many midwives recommend using the shower as a pain reliever, and not getting into the birthing pool until active labor has commenced. Laboring in a birth tub is described as a wonderful experience, and very soothing, by those mothers who have given birth in water.
Being immersed in water makes you weightless, and makes changing positions, which most women do a lot of during natural labors, so much easier. Because the water supports nearly every muscle in your body, water birthing mothers often say that they remained energetic throughout their labors.
Laboring in a pool ensures even distribution of your blood throughout your body, and it encourages the release of oxytocin — the “love hormone” that makes you feel wonderful, energetic, and helps minimize pain.
Better blood flow also allows the uterus to contract more efficiently. Meanwhile, the water will support your perineum and vaginal tissue while your baby is crowing and during birth, making it less likely that you will tear.
But mothers are not the only ones to benefit from water births — babies born in water experience a more gentle transition from the uterus to the outside world. Providing the temperature of the water is similar to your body’s temperature, the change will be so gradual that your baby will hardly notice it!
Babies who are born into water do not take their first breaths until after they are lifted out of the tub. This is nothing dangerous. The environment in the birthing pool is similar to that in the uterus, and the baby’s breathing reflexes will simply not begin to work until they come into contact with the air.
Mothers who gave birth in birthing pools have one thing in common — they all say that it was a wonderful experience for them, and a gentle start for their babies.
Copyright Â© Olivia Van Buren
Olivia Van Buren is a journalist, a feminist, and a mother of two. She writes about natural childbirth on her blog, Write About Birth. She is the mother of two great children, a girl (four years old) and a boy (nearly two years old). Olivia ditched her pen and notepad to be able to stay at home, and enjoy seeing her kids grow up. She believes in natural parenting, and positive discipline.