Calm and Relaxing
The theory behind water birth is that because the baby has lived in the amniotic fluid sac for nine months, birthing into a similar environment is gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother than a traditional birth.
Water births can be arranged at the hospital as well as at our birth center.
Water Birth Benefits for Mom
A water birth can help a woman relax physically, which leads to mental relaxation and an increased ability to focus on the birth process.
- Warm water is soothing, comforting and relaxing
- Use of water can boost your energy during the late stages of labor
- The effect of buoyancy lessens your body weight, allowing free movement and new positioning alternatives
- Buoyancy promotes efficient uterine contractions and improved blood circulation, which results in increased oxygenation of uterine muscles, reduced pain for you and enhanced oxygen for your baby
- Immersion in water often helps reduce high blood pressure caused by anxiety
- Water can reduce stress-related hormones, allowing your body to produce endorphins, which serve as pain inhibitors
- Water causes the perineum to become more elastic and relaxed, decreasing the incidence and severity of tearing and the need for an episiotomy and/or stitches
- As a laboring woman relaxes physically, she also can relax mentally, resulting in an increased ability to focus on the birth process
- Because water provides a heightened sense of privacy, it can ease inhibitions, anxiety and fears
Benefits for Baby
- A water setting is similar to the amniotic sac
- Being surrounded by water eases the stress of birth, thus increasing reassurance and a sense of security
Who can use water for labor and birth?
You and your baby must meet all of the following criteria for water labor and/or birth:
- Be generally healthy without major pregnancy complications
- Be carrying one baby who is presenting head down
- Be at least 37 weeks pregnant at the time of birth
- Not be a carrier of (or infected with) HIV, hepatitis B or C, or have other active infections at the time of the birth
- Have a BMI under 40 and follow weight gain recommendations for pregnancy
Certain women attempting vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) may be able to have a water birth. If you have previously had a cesarean section, talk to your doctor about whether you can have a water birth.