Discover the benefits and risks of waterbirth, including how warm water can decrease pain sensations during labor. Learn why waterbirth and hypnobirthing are a powerful combination, and how to join a hypnobirthing course for a positive and empowering birth experience.
What is Waterbirth?
Waterbirth is the practice of giving birth in a tub or pool of warm water. The water is usually kept at a temperature close to body temperature (around 37-38°C), and the buoyancy of the water helps support your weight, making it easier to relax and cope with contractions/surges.
The warm water can provide a natural and effective way to manage pain without the use of medication.
What is the difference between water birth and water labor?
During water immersion in labor, a person gets into a tub or pool of warm water during the first stage of labor, before the baby is born. In a waterbirth, a person remains in the water during the pushing phase and actual birth of the baby (Nutter et al. 2014a).
If you are giving birth in a private hospital in South Africa, you will need to speak to your Obstetrician to see which option they will support. Both loffer benefits for you and your baby, so it’s an important discussion to have if the hospital offers the facility to labor and birth in water.
Pain management with water in early labor
There are several ways to use water for pain management during labor. One option is to take a warm bath or shower during early labor to help relax the muscles and reduce tension. You may be told that having a warm bath too early can stop labor, however, if it does stop, you probably weren’t in proper labor. It’s a great option to use while you are still at home, to delay going to hospital until you are in strong active labor.
Pain management with water in active labor
The warm temperature of the water can help to relax the muscles and reduce tension, which can alleviate pain and discomfort during surges/contractions. When you’re in water, your body weight is supported by the buoyancy of the water, which can help you to feel weightless and reduce the pressure on your body.
The relaxation that occurs in warm water can also trigger the release of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers produced by the body. Endorphins can help to reduce pain sensations and create a sense of calmness and well-being.
Furthermore, being in warm water can distract the mind from the pain sensations, providing a calming and soothing environment that can help you to cope better with the intensity of contractions. This distraction can be particularly helpful for women who prefer to avoid or minimize the use of pain medication during labor.
Benefits of Waterbirth
There are many benefits to having a waterbirth, including natural pain relief, reduced risk of tears, increased relaxation, improved blood flow, and improved oxygen flow for the baby.
Let’s explore each of these benefits in more detail:
- Natural pain relief: The warm water can help relax your muscles and ease pain, reducing the need for pain medication.
- Reduced risk of tears: The water can help soften the perineum, reducing the risk of tearing during delivery.
- Increased relaxation: Being in water can help reduce stress and anxiety during labor, leading to a more positive birth experience.
- Improved blood flow: The buoyancy of the water can help improve blood flow, reducing the risk of high blood pressure during labor.
- Improved oxygen flow: Being in water can help increase oxygen flow to the baby, leading to a healthier birth.
Drawbacks of Waterbirth
While waterbirth can be a safe and natural option for giving birth, there are some drawbacks to consider.
- Risk of infection: There is a small risk of infection associated with waterbirth, particularly if the tub or pool is not properly cleaned and disinfected.
- Not suitable for all women: Some women may not be suitable candidates for waterbirth, including those with certain medical conditions or who have experienced complications during previous births.
How do babies breathe underwater during birth?
Babies do not need to breathe when they are in the womb because they get oxygen from the blood that comes from their mum through the placenta. When they are born in water, their body behaves as if they are still in the womb until they take their first breath of air, at which point their lungs open up.
If your baby is born in the water, they are brought gently to the surface by the mother or midwife. The baby will not breathe until they meet the air, and they continue to get oxygen through the umbilical cord.
What prevents baby from drowning during water birth?
If the birth is uncomplicated and conducted safely, there is no risk of your baby breathing before they are brought to the surface of the water. Your baby is born with a reflex called the ‘gag reflex’ or the “dive reflex”. This kicks into action when your baby feels water on their face, nose or throat. When your baby is underwater, the soft tissue at the back of their throat closes to block the entrance to the airway, so that liquid is swallowed rather than breathed in.
Water birth and hypnobirthing
Hypnobirthing is a powerful technique that can help you achieve a positive and empowering birth experience, and when combined with waterbirth, it can create a natural and relaxing environment that promotes calmness and focus.
I invite you to join my hypnobirthing course in The Due Date Club. In this course, you will learn relaxation, visualization, and breathing techniques that can help you stay calm and focused during labor and delivery. You will also learn how to communicate effectively with your healthcare provider, create a positive birth plan, and prepare for the arrival of your baby.
So, if you’re ready to explore the benefits of hypnobirthing and experience the beauty of a waterbirth, I invite you to join my hypnobirthing course in The Due Date Club. Let’s work together to create the birth experience you deserve.