Is Water Birth Safe for Mom and Baby?

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If you are pregnant, you probably are already studying the different delivery options that you may have. While most women stick with the traditional process of giving birth, some women choose to try other methods.

One popular method is called water birth. If you are interested in this form of delivery, you are probably wondering if it is safe and what you can expect. Below, you will be able to find everything that you need to know about water births and the reasons other women have chosen this method.

1. What is a water birth?

First, what is a water birth exactly? Basically, this method is completed just as its name implies. However, there are many options. First you will need to decide where you want to give birth.

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You have the option to give birth in a bathtub, in a hot tub with low temperatures or any other pool of water that your doctor approves. You also must pick the physical location of this pool of water; your home, the hospital or a birthing center. Regardless of where you give birth, a water birth works the same way.

You will receive the same care and attention that you would through a normal delivery and you will even be outfitted with a special underwater device to help monitor the baby. If you choose to deliver while you are in the water, that is fine or you can move to an actual bed for the delivery portion of childbirth.

2. You should not have an infection

So, now you need to decide if water birth is safe for you. Many women have enjoyed this method, but the circumstances must be right for it to be an option. First, it is important that you do not have an infection of any sort. Pregnancy complications will also prevent this method and you should alert your doctor if you have herpes. Herpes can pass through the water to your baby so water birth will not be an option for you.

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3. You must be full term

Another important factor with water births is that you must be full term in order to qualify for it. Full term is considered when you are giving birth after 39 weeks of pregnancy. You should also be cautious if you are having twins or if your baby is breached.

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Extensive research has been completed on this process but, unfortunately, the results remain mixed as to the accuracy of the risk factors. Some research has shown that water births are perfectly safe, but others have shown an increase in some issues, such as brain injury due to being underwater, electrolyte issues if the baby swallows some of the water and infections due to contaminated water.

4. Make sure the water you are giving birth in is clean and sterile

If you are choosing a water birth, one of the most important factors is making sure that the water that you are giving birth in is clean and sterile. If it is not, severe infections and diseases can be passed through the water both to mother and baby. For best results, research the facility that you are giving birth in thoroughly before you make a final decision.

Women choose water births for a number of reasons. Many mothers feel that water births are more natural and help alleviate some of the stress that is commonly related to giving birth. This can also give some women the idea that they are more in control of their delivery than they would be with a normal delivery.

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Other women choose water births for comfort reasons. Water has been known to relax the muscles and can make the process of giving birth easier on the mother. It has the power to reduce vaginal tearing and may even help them avoid needing stitches after they give birth. Some have even found that water births help ease labor pains and make the experience more enjoyable.

5. Research your options carefully

Water births are extremely popular and more and more women are choosing them as an option for giving birth. If you are considering a water birth yourself, it is important that you research your options carefully so that you are choosing the right facility and doctor to help you through the process carefully. Always be prepared for having your plans changed because in an emergency, you may be required to abandon a water birth for a normal delivery or a C-section.

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Whatever your views on delivery are, water birth can be something that is relaxing and help you get through the process with less pain and medication. Be sure to discuss your options with your doctor when you are planning the delivery of your baby.

Ms. Belanger has 20 years of experience in women's healthcare and nursing, including labor and delivery, postpartum and antenatal. She is passionate toward improving both maternal and fetal outcomes of high-risk obstetrics patients.