How to have a safe, natural labor and delivery in waterJillian Capewell
Not all deliveries happen on hospital beds, and that’s not because the baby came out in the taxicab on the way – some mothers opt to give birth in water. There are a lot of advantages to laboring and giving birth in a tub; high among them is the fact that the warm water eases the pain for the mother and the transition for the baby.
Rub-a-dub-dub, delivery in a tub
If you choose to give birth at home, you can use a hot tub with the temperature turned down or rent a water-birthing tub made for the specific purpose of supporting a mother throughout labor and delivery. Tubs are available to rent or purchase. Most are inflatable tubs that are about as wide as a kiddie pool but much deeper. They are easy to install and take apart.
Some women labor in the tub and exit the tub for the delivery, while others give birth in the water. Both have been proven safe for low-risk pregnancies and when attended by a trained professional. Often water births take place at home with a home birth midwife, but you may have the option to have a water birth at your local birth center or hospital – some have added water birth facilities in recent years.
While in labor, a special underwater heart-monitoring device can be used to keep track of the baby’s heartbeat.
Why a water birth?
There are many benefits to water birthing that have led to an increase in its popularity around the world. Some reasons you may opt for a water birth are:
- Promotes relaxation and calmness
- Added buoyancy may reduce pressure on mother’s body
- May shorten labor time due to relaxing effects of the water environment
- Soothing effects of water can provide pain relief and lessen the need for medication
- By choosing your birth environment, you may feel more in control
- Water can provide a nice transition for the baby
Some studies have found that water births are as safe as non-water births and tend to involve fewer interventions and less pain for the mother. But they are generally recommended for low-risk pregnancies. Ask your doctor about what’s best for you. Also, since many water births take place at home, there is the question of whether a home birth is a safe option for you. Water births are seen as an alternative birthing method, so your doctor may be uneasy about recommending it as an option. One of the biggest obstacles to every woman laboring (and sometimes giving birth) in the tub is access. Most births take place in hospitals and many hospitals do not have birthing tubs.