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Water Birth - Benefits And Potential Risks

For any woman, the joy of bringing a baby into the world can be unparalleled. With a multitude of birthing options available today, it’s safe to say that the aspects of pain and stress associated with childbirth can be, more or less, kept under control. One such birthing option that’s getting more and more popular is an alternative method known as water birth.

What does the term “Water Birth” Mean?

As the name suggests, water birth is the process of giving birth in a small pool or tub of warm water. You could either choose to labour in the water and get out for delivery or just stay in the water for delivery as well. The whole point of the water birth is that your baby has already been in the amniotic fluid sac for nine months. So, birthing in a similar environment can only be gentler for your baby while also being less stressful for you.

A water birth can happen at home, at a birthing centre, or even in a hospital environment and it should only be done under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider. Although there are a growing number of midwives and obstetricians who swear by the benefits of water birth, there are quite a few practitioners who aren’t very confident about this method’s success. Let’s take a look at the benefits and potential risks of water birth so you and your doctor can make a more informed decision.

What are the Benefits of Water Birth for the Mother and Her Child?

- A water environment can be more familiar and welcoming to your baby during birth as he or she will be accustomed to the sensation of being in the water. This is because babies develop in the amniotic fluid sac during the gestation period.

- Warm water can be soothing and help you relax during the intense process of childbirth.

- When you labour in water, you’ll have less stress hormones like cortisol, noradrenaline, and catecholamines that can adversely affect your baby. Water also encourages the release of natural pain relief from endorphins.

- Buoyancy in water makes you feel weightless. Consequently, you have more freedom of movement to labour in various positions independently.

- Your blood circulation tends to improve greatly in water. This makes contractions easier and facilitates greater blood flow to your baby. As your blood flow increases, you’ll have more energy to tackle labour too.

What are the Potential Risks of Water Birth for the Mother and Her Child?

- Firstly, water could enter your bloodstream and cause aspiration. It may even cause your baby to get an infection.

- There’s a good chance that your baby’s temperature can get too high or too low during a water birth.

- If the umbilical cord is compromised while your baby is in the birth canal, he or she may try to take a breath and would then breathe in water.

- If its an emergency, moving you out of the pool and into a bed or an operating room would take up precious time, which could make a critical difference in the outcome for you and your baby.

- Lastly, the umbilical cord could snap during water birth if your baby isn’t lifted or handled with care. Water birth truly makes it more difficult for your health care provider to handle your baby.

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