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Water birth is the method of childbirth that involves the delivery process of the baby inside warm water. In other words, water birth means that, water is used as one of the main means to ease the labor process. This is believed to be one of the safe means that benefits both the infant as well as the mother and is also said to avoid any kind of surgical process involved. This is also believed to be less traumatic and less pain causing process. Nevertheless, there is also argument that there are risks of infection the process could create.
We are here to discuss in detail about water birth and the main aspects concerning water birth.
Process Of Water Birth
Theoretically, the delivery process involved in water birth is almost similar to that of a normal delivery process except the concept of water being present to aid the delivery. This technique was mostly adapted only in private treatment centers and currently picking up all over the world. As discussed, there is no epidural injections or pain relievers given to the mother, as per her choice, and the process also lets the mother move around during the process unlike the normal delivery process.
In general, a bathtub or an inflated tub is used for the water birth process. The temperature of the water is normally from 96 to 100 degree Fahrenheit, as this is ideal for both the baby as well as the mother. Increase in temperature would cause increase in the heart rate of the infant. The mother positions herself comfortably in the tub and is continuously monitored throughout the water birth process. The pressure of the water eases the pain and pushing act of the woman and also aids in stretching of the perineum thereby reducing the need of an episiotomy or surgery.
As soon as the baby comes out, the head is lifted up from the water and the mouth and nose is sucked to enable breathing when the body of the baby is still in water. This avoids the shock of sudden exposure to the infant. Eventually the rest of the process happens as in a normal delivery. The most important factor is the temperature of the water. If the temperature is high or low, there are risks for baby as well as dehydration caused to the mother.
Safety Aspects Of Water Birth
The introduction of water birth process took place in the year 1991, which comprised of; restricted invasive methods and a unique method by free choice. It is also shown that the blood loss for the mother is relatively less in water births. Studies also show that the Agar score at 5 min and 10 min as well as the blood pH related to the umbilical cord are high after this process. Also, since the baby slides inside the water, there is no physical damage for the fetus, as there is no risk of catching baby that comes out with a certain force and speed while being pushed out. Hence the water birth method is considered safer for the infant as well as the mother.
Situations That Are Not Recommended For Water Birth
- When the mother is suffering from Herpes, there are risks of it transferring through water and hence this situation must be considered.
- When the mother has a maternal infection or excess of bleeding, it is not very ideal for a water birth process.
- When there is more than one fetus in the womb – that is, if there is a case of twin-babies or more, the water birth method may not be very ideal provided, it is recommended by the gynecologist.
- If there is a condition of preeclampsia or toxemia for the mother it may not be an ideal situation.
- When there is excessive secretion of meconium and the birth process is delayed, then the mother is normally made to rise up her pelvis out of the water to deliver the baby.
- This process is also not ideal for pre-term deliveries.
Pros And Cons Of Water Birth
As any other process, water birth also has its own pros and cons.
Delivering in water provides comfort, relaxation, and smooth delivery.The floating reduces the woman’s body weight and aids free movement.There is physical and mental relaxation of the mother, which enables focused effort in pushing the baby.The buoyancy also provides ease of contractions with enhanced circulation of blood thereby resulting in improved oxygen supply to the related muscles, reduced pain, and increased oxygen supply for the infant.The perineum slow expands as per requirement, since it is in water and this happens without pain and also prevents tearing of the walls. This in turn reduces the need for any stitches or need for episiotomy.The blood pressure rate of the mother is kept under control.The exposure of the baby to the outside atmosphere from the amniotic sac is very gradual and this prevents the shock for the baby and gives security. In other words, it mimics the womb.In essence, the water birth removes anxiety, fear, and inhibition of the mother.
Water birth process involves in certain risk factors for the mother and baby. A brief look on the cons:
There are risks of water entering the blood stream of the mother, which would create embolism during the process of water birth.If there is delay in half way through the delivery process such as twisting of umbilical cord, there are high risks of water entering the lungs of the baby.Since the main source of oxygen to the baby is the umbilical cord, if there is a rare case of the cord snapping, it could suffocate the baby.It is also said there is a risk of infection to the mother or baby through the water, as bacteria multiplies faster in water.
Though there are several controversies related to water birth, studies also show it is one of the best methods that is easy for both baby and mother. However, this is purely done on choice of the individual with a proper guidance of the gynecologist. Also, with the proper guidance of an experienced midwife or an expert in this field is sure to bring a successful and a relatively pain free water birth.