What are the benefits of water birth?

June 28, 2012 4:04 PM by

If you're currently preparing for pregnancy and longing to labor without the help of pain medication, you might want to consider water birth. Of course, it's not exactly the equivalent of lounging poolside or laying out on the sand, but it's still relaxing when you consider the alternatives. Water birth is simply the process of giving birth in a pool of water rather than a hospital bed, and there are many benefits.

Less stressful for your baby
During a pregnancy, fetuses are immersed in amniotic fluid, acquiring their oxygen through the umbilical cord. Imagine the shock of suddenly being freed into an entirely different environment during a standard delivery! Being born into warm water offers a greater sense of security.

Comforting for you
If bubble baths are your go-to stress relievers, why not take the same approach during labor? The warm water can comfort you, lower your blood pressure if you're anxious and help you de-stress. Even the privacy of being submerged in water rather than spread wide open on a bed is soothing for some women.

Efficient and less painful
The buoyancy of the water has been shown to promote more efficient contractions because the water can improve your blood circulation. This provides more oxygen to your uterine muscles, so you're less likely to feel as much pain. The warmth also helps make your muscles and perineum relax, so you're less likely to experience a tear, and if you do, it probably won't be as severe.

Of course, some circumstances aren't ideal for water births, like if you have herpes, excessive bleeding, a preterm delivery or if your baby is breech. It's always best to discuss the possibility of water birth with your doctor before deciding on it as your birth plan.

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