A water birth involves giving birth in a tub of warm water, under the guidance of a doctor or qualified midwife. Water births appeal to many mothers who are looking for a gentle, natural alternative to conventional childbirth in a hospital bed. Water births are especially popular for women looking to have a childbirth free of epidurals or pain medication. Here are four benefits of a water birth:
Provides Natural Pain Relief
Studies have shown that women who experience a water birth tend to report less labor pain than women who have conventional birth experiences. Many women report that the warm, relaxing sensation of the water helps make their contractions less painful. The warm water also seems to reduce the level of stress hormones that are released during birth, which can make pain less noticeable and easier to deal with for some women.
Provides a Womb-like Experience for Baby
One of the major benefits of a water birth is that it's thought to provide the baby with a more gentle transition to the outside world. Since the baby has been in a warm water-filled setting for nine months, being delivered in warm water may feel better for them than the cold air and noise of the hospital room.
The mother is able to cuddle the baby inside the warm birthing pool after delivery, before wrapping the baby in a warm towel or blanket so it can be weighed and examined by the doctor or midwife.
Can Help Labor Happen More Quickly
For some women, being immersed in the birthing tub can help speed up the labor and delivery process, which is welcome news for most expectant mothers. This is thought to occur because the warm water helps relax the pelvic muscles, allowing contractions and pushing to happen more easily and faster.
Less Tearing and Need for Stitches
One of the most painful aspects of childbirth is tearing, and the stitches that are required afterward. With a water birth, this may still occur but the tearing may be reduced and much less severe. The warm water helps relax and loosen the muscles and make the pushing portion of childbirth more gentle, leading to less tearing for some women.
If you are considering a water birth, it's a good idea to discuss this option with a midwife in order to decide if it's the right fit for you and your unique pregnancy.