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Tips on Having a Water Birth


When learning about the many options for your birth journey, you might get overwhelmed. Between doctors and doulas, hospitals and home births, there's a lot to think about. One option some women choose is to have a water birth. Learn about this process below:

What is a water birth?

Not all women want to have their babies in the traditional method, lying on a hospital bed. Instead, they want a more natural, potentially-soothing way of bringing their new children into the world. Water birth occurs when a woman labors in a bathtub or special birthing pool. The woman may choose to refrain from taking birthing medicines like pitocin and epidurals. The birth may happen at home in a reinforced birthing pool or in a regular bathtub. Some hospitals even provide birthing suites complete with a large bathtub to allow for water birth. As the woman labors and delivers the child, the baby is removed from the water immediately and takes a first breath.

What are the benefits of water birth?

While researching the possible ways for you to give birth, you've likely tried to compare the benefits of each method. Many women claim that the buoyancy of water reduces labor pains and makes them overall more comfortable during labor. Some also say they felt they had more control over the delivery and that they had more energy as they're not fighting gravity. Being in the water can be very soothing, reducing the stress that most birthing moms undergo while laboring. Water also may reduce birthing injuries like damage to the perineum, limiting the need for post-delivery stitching or episiotomy.

What are the risks of water birth?

There are few risks for water birth so long as you attend regular pre-natal appointments with your doctor, doula or midwife. It's important to know you can have a doctor present and even use birthing medicines during a water birth. Just because you choose to have your baby in water doesn't mean you can't have access to medical intervention as necessary. One risk some associate with water births is that the baby may try to take a breath before he or she is removed from the water. In reality, American Pregnancy wrote that it is very rare for a baby to do this, as they are still breathing through the umbilical cord at this point. The child is removed from the water and has his or her mouth and nose suctioned before the chord is cut and it must breathe air orally.

Women who have had difficult pregnancies or whose babies are in breech position are not recommended to have a water birth. Herpes may be transmitted to the child through water so that is another risk factor to consider. Women expected to give birth early are more likely to experience complications and may choose a different birth method as such. American Pregnancy also shared that women who are having multiple children through one pregnancy should thoroughly discuss their options with their doctor before opting to have a water birth.

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