Well, here are just a few of the benefits:
- facilitates mobility and enables mom to assume any position which is comfortable for labour and birth
- speeds up labour
- reduces blood pressure
- provides significant pain relief
- reduces the need for drugs and interventions
- reduces perineal trauma & eliminates episiotomy
- encourages an easier birth for mom & a gentler welcome for baby
FACT: Babies don't take a breath until their cheeks make contact with cool air. Trigeminal nerves in this area of the face sense when the face is immersed in water & sends messages to the brain. The brain responds by inhibiting breathing, decreasing heart rate and redirecting blood to the brain and heart. This reflex prevents babies from gasping for air underwater. Once those nerves feel cool dry air then baby takes a breath.
Additionally, the newborn isn't under water for very long as mom wants to hold baby so usually she/he is brought up into her waiting arms only seconds after birth.
As well as babies not taking a breath until their face feels cool dry air, a number of other factors inhibit babies from breathing underwater at birth:
- prostaglandin levels are high at the moment of birth which causes the baby's muscles for breathing to not work
- newborns are sensitive to temperature so they are stimulated to breathe by the cooler temperature of air compared to the warm womb
- Check this link with information regarding water birth: http://evidencebasedbirth.com/waterbirth
In Vancouver, water births can be done at home with a registered midwife. There are a few basic supplies you need on hand. The optimal pain relief requires that the woman be submerged in the water deep enough to cover her whole belly. So, usually a birthing pool needs to be rented or bought, as bath tubs aren't quite deep enough, (but in a pinch, will do).
I offer the birth pool and some basic accessories for home water births. There is no extra fee to use these. (Valued at $400.+) The pool, lid, cover, air and sump pump are included. Purchased items are a drinking hose, pool liner and tap adapter.
To learn more about my home birth doula care visit my website: www.vancouverhomebirthdoula.com
BC Women's Hospital has lovely rooms with deep tubs for labouring in and depending on your care provider, birth may be possible in one. St. Paul's Hospital has bath tubs which women may labour in, but not give birth in. The same is true for other Metro Vancouver area hospitals.
To keep you & your baby safe while having a water birth you need to:
- have established good labor pattern with regular contractions
- have reassuring heart tones
- absence of bleeding great than bloody show
- have no strong meds such as morphine
- no meconium in the amniotic fluid
In my years as a doula, I have seen that water is such a wonderful element for laboring women to be in. Immersion in water during labor is dubbed 'the midwives epidural'.
Babies come so gently from water into water! A beautiful, easy transition from womb to the world.
Visit http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-01-evidence-birth-poses-newborns.html for research on safety and benefits of water birth.