Benefits of choosing a waterbirth
Water birth is a transforming step into motherhood as well as an incredible way to manage the waves of pain in labor. Some women have even said that in comparing their water birth to their birth laying in a hospital bed freeing and empowering. The ability to have control over their body while bringing their baby earth side being one of the many benefits to a water birth.
72.3% of women who had waterbirths stated that they would certainly choose this method of giving birth again.
Women who have chosen to have a waterbirth have said they experienced the following:
- An increase in having a hands free birth (if you choose too.)
- Decrease in tearing.
- Less pain with contractions.
- Shorter births.
- Being in the water allows your pregnant body the relief of buoyancy. Changing positions much easier and letting your body float between contractions if you wish is much added pain relief.
- Decreases chances of unnecessary medical intervention.
During my water birth, just the first 5 minutes through the hard waves of contractions I immediately noticed the difference in my pain tolerance. Although my body has a high pain tolerance and given that I have a history with precipitous labor, the pain relief of just being in warm water was indescribable and much easier to manage my pain. I would recommend a water birth to any of my friends, family and clients.
Water Birth History
Giving birth in water, rather than labouring in air is a relatively recent development in the Western world. The first water birth in Europe that we know about was in 1803 in France. A mother whose labour had been extremely long and difficult was finally helped to give birth in a tub of warm water.
In the 1960s, the Russian water birth pioneer Igor Tjarkovsky experimented with babies being born into cold rather than warm water. His thinking was that this would help protect the baby's brain and enhance the baby's cognitive abilities. Understandably, this approach to water birth didn’t last long!
Next, in the 1970s, some midwives and doctors in France became interested in ways of helping babies make the transition from life in the womb (uterus) to life outside as smoothly as possible, by using warm water.
Their concern was that modern maternity care, with all of its interventions, was making birth traumatic for babies. Some doctors, including French obstetrician Frederick Leboyer, thought babies could be affected for life by the way they came into the world.
Leboyer's approach was to use a warm bath for the newborn baby a short time after the birth, after a period of skin-to-skin with the mother and a natural third stage. Leboyer's work influenced our next water-birth champion, the French obstetrician Michel Odent, who installed birth pools in each room at the birth unit where he worked in France.
Odent noticed that as well as helping women cope with the pain of childbirth, being immersed in water seemed to help labour progress. He found that water births also seemed to offer babies a more peaceful journey from the womb into their mums' arms. Babies are bathed in warm water as they emerge from the birth canal, and the pool environment feels similar to the enveloping warmth of the womb.
Doctors and midwives noted how calm babies were after they had been born in water. They cried less than babies born in air. They appeared more relaxed and were eager to have eye contact with their mums and to breastfeed.