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Water Birthing

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Water birth is an ancient technique that helps in reducing labour pain for women. Since your baby has already been in the amniotic fluid sac for nine months, birthing in a similar environment is gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother. Some women choose to labour in the water and get out for the birth while some decide to stay in the water for the birth as well. At the CK Birla Hospital, throughout this process you will have a trained Birth Professional providing you continuous emotional and physical support. We invite mums-to-be to attend one of our waterbirth classes after the 34th week of pregnancy.

Who is best suited for a water birth?

  • Women with an uncomplicated pregnancy of 37 plus weeks
  • Babies who are positioned head down (Cephalic)
  • Healthy women with no pre-existing medical problems
  • Expecting only one baby
  • If your waters (membranes) have ruptured they must be clear in colour and have occurred less than 24 hours previously
  • If the baby’s heart rate is normal

What are the benefits of using water?

  • The buoyancy in water enables a woman to move more easily than on land. You can create a quiet space around yourself, helping you to feel private and keep interventions to a minimum
  • Women’s experience of pain and use of methods of pain relief reflect less use of epidural/spinal for pain relief during labour and less reported pain
  • Water immersion during labour is associated with no difference in labour duration, type of birth, five-minute APGAR scores, neonatal infection and admission to neonatal units
  • Women’s experiences of water for labour and birth are generally positive in terms of feeling relaxed, involvement in decision making and feeling more in control

Is there any risk associated with the use of water in labour?

There is no evidence of increased adverse effects to the baby or woman from labouring in water or delivering in the water. There are some precautions that need to be taken to ensure the well-being of you and your baby which include:

  • The water temperature must be checked regularly
  • If your baby is born under the water he/she will be brought to the surface of the water so that breathing can start. These precautions are taken to minimise the risk of overheating and the risk of infection to both mum and baby. 

What do I wear?

You can wear whatever you feel comfortable in; it is advisable to bring a bath robe, for when you leave the pool as you can get cold very quickly.

What happens in labour?

  • The water temperature will be maintained within a range of 35°-37° Centigrade during the first stage of labour
  • Your baby’s heartbeat will be monitored every 15 minutes
  • Your pulse rate will be monitored every 30 minutes and your temperature will be monitored  every hour
  • Entonox (gas and air) is the only other form of pain relief you can use in the pool
  • The water is kept at a level above your uterus
  • It is advisable that you drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration

What happens at the birth of your baby?

  • When your baby is being born, the water temperature is elevated to 37° C
  • Your baby should be born completely under water, with no air contact and then raised head first to the surface. We encourage immediate skin to skin contact in the pool.

Why you may be asked to leave the pool?

You may be asked to leave the pool because of

  • Abnormal changes in the baby’s heart rate
  • Meconium staining in your waters (baby has opened his/her bowels)
  • Bleeding from your vagina during labour or any other complication
  • If your labour slows down, you may be advised to leave the pool for a while, but you may be able to get in again later

What are the alternatives?

You may be able to use water for pain relief in the first stage of labour even if you do not actually deliver your baby in the water. Alternatively, there are other methods of pain relief which are available. Discuss these with your doctor.