Water birth is a method of childbirth where the mom is submerged in a pool of warm water throughout the process of labour and delivery. It can be conducted in a birthing centre, hospital, or at home.
It can be performed by a doctor, midwife, or nurse-midwife with the assistance of a doula or birthing coach. Read on to find out if water birth is a suitable option for you.
What is Water Birth?
At least a portion of your labour and delivery may occur through a water birth if you choose to give birth there. It could take place in a hospital, at home, or in a birthing centre. A physician, nurse-midwife, or midwife will assist you.
Having your baby delivered underwater should be regarded as an experimental procedure with risks, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which sets standards for prenatal and postpartum care in the U.S. It may also have some benefits during the first stage of labour.
Studies show that having a stage one water delivery does not improve your or your child’s health.
However, taking a warm bath makes you feel more at ease and helps you unwind. Additionally, moving about is easier in water than it is in bed.
Moreover, some scientific studies suggest that the water may lessen the possibility of major vaginal tears. The blood supply to the uterus may also be enhanced. However, the study’s findings on these issues are unclear.
Risks of Water Birth
Overall, ACOG recommends giving women the choice of giving birth in water when they are between 37 weeks and 41 weeks, 6 days pregnant. A low-risk pregnancy, clean amniotic fluid, and a head-down position for the child are also prerequisites.
It may not be recommended for women to give birth in the water if they are in preterm labour or have already had two or more cesarean sections.
Additionally, water birthing may not be suggested if you exhibit any of the following problems or symptoms:
- maternal illness or skin bleeding
- a temperature of at least 100.4 °F (38 °C).
- excessive spotting during pregnant
- incapacity to monitor the embryonic pulse or the need for constant monitoring
- history of shoulder dystonia
- carrying many goods
Infants who are born in water run the risk of getting infections or other diseases, albeit this is rare. Legionnaires’ illness is brought on, for instance, by inhaling water droplets containing the Legionella bacteria. One or more of the symptoms of this serious and occasionally fatal sickness include fever, cough, and pneumonia.
Among the additional risks are:
- having trouble regulating a baby’s body temperature
- potential for umbilical cord harm
- infants’ breathing issues
- seizures and suffocation
Is Water Birth Safe?
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According to a study, water birth does not cause water to migrate upward during labour, enter the birth canal, or raise the risk of uterine or birth canal infections.
After delivering the placenta, a woman’s blood loss can be difficult to anticipate (afterbirth). This is accurate whether the mother gives birth in a bed or a bathtub.
Studies suggest that there may be a little increase in blood loss after a waterbirth. The nurse or midwife will periodically check your uterus to make sure there is no significant bleeding. If there is a problem, you may be requested to exit the bathtub so that a doctor may examine you and/or treat you.
When labour, which requires physically demanding activity, is paired with immersion in warm water, sweating might develop. Dehydration can cause an increase in heart rate and a mild temperature (not getting enough drink into the body). You must take in at least 8 ounces of clear drink per hour to prevent dehydration.
Some experts claim that taking a warm bath too early in labour will slow down the process and space out the contractions. Due to this, a lot of medical experts suggest that a woman in labour wait to use the bathtub until her labour is well-established and her cervix is at least four centimetres dilated.
Others have seen that if the woman is at least four centimeters dilated when she enters the water, labour progresses more swiftly. Labour might stall if the woman soaks in the tub for longer than one or two hours continuously. If labour pauses, it seems sensible to get out of the tub and take a 30-minute stroll.
Benefits of Water Birth
Water births are said to be soothing and relaxing; it also lowers blood pressure and eases anxiety. During the first stage of labour, or when contractions begin until the cervix is just about to be fully dilated, warm water helps ease pain and speed up the process of labour.
Some sources also claim that it reduces the possibility of tearing during labour because it makes the perineum of the vagina more elastic and relaxed.
Throughout the process, warm water also energizes the mum to push or bear down. Some women are also more comfortable as the submersion offers more privacy.
According to ACOG, immersing yourself in water during the first few hours of labour may help to speed things along. Your need for spinal injections or other types of pain management may be reduced as a result of working in the water.
Lastly, women who give birth in water may also experience fewer cesarean sections, according to a small study (13.2 per cent versus 32.9 per cent).
Additionally, 6.1 per cent of women who gave birth in the water reported stress incontinence, compared to 25.5 per cent of women who gave birth on land, 42 days after giving birth. Larger studies are required to verify these findings.
Are Water Births Dangerous? Disadvantages of Water Birth
Water birth is a safe and gentle way of bringing a child into this world
According to a recent study, there is no data to support claims that water births are better than hospital births, just like there is no evidence to back its perceived dangers.
“The notion that it is safe to have the baby underwater has not been shown as safe or unsafe in our review,” study author Dr. Alastair Sutcliffe, told FitPregnancy.
“Whilst it is a good plan to try labour in water, my advice is to wait until there is more convincing evidence of safety before having the actual delivery in water.”
For moms-to-be considering giving birth in water, here are some possible, but rare, risks you should be aware of, according to Dr. Jeffrey Ecker of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
- There is a possibility that you or your baby could get an infection
- Your baby has irregular body temperature at birth, too high or low
- After birth, your baby could inhale or swallow water with feces
- Your baby’s umbilical cord could snap or detach during birth
- Your baby may have seizures or breathing difficulties
- In some severe cases, there could be water birth drowning where babies could drown
Is a Water Birth Right for You?
To determine if water birth is the right choice for you and your baby, make sure that:
- You’re between the ages of 17 and 35
- You have not experienced labour complications in the past like preeclampsia
- You’re not expecting twins or multiple births
- Your baby is not in the breech position
- Your baby is not a preemie
- You don’t have an infection
- You don’t have chronic health problems, like heart disease
- Your baby is not big or heavy
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Water Birth in Singapore
If you have decided that a water birth in Singapore sounds like the right thing for you, read on for more information about what goes into planning one.
The first step is to discuss the option of giving birth in water with your doula or doctor, and decide whether you want to have a water birth in a hospital or in the comfort of your own home.
Selected hospitals like NUH Singapore, Thomson Medical and Mount Alvernia do have birthing rooms with tubs and even inflatable birth pools you can use. However, some expecting mummies prefer to birthing in the familiar surroundings of home.
Here’s a checklist of things to consider if you are planning for a water birth in Singapore.
- Once you have established if you are having a water birth in a hospital or at home, you need to ensure that you have all the equipment needed. For water births at home, you need to ensure that the floor of your house can actually support the width of what will be a decent size paddling pool. What is to become the birthing room should also be spacious enough to allow free movement for the midwife and all her equipment.
- The tub should be deep enough to sit comfortably with the water level reaching your armpits. Do a test run beforehand to find out how long it takes to fill up the pool with water and also to get everything set up for the birth. Make sure all the pool accessories like the pump, filters and heater are working properly. Also, make sure that you can get in and out of the tub with ease.
- An often overlooked step in planning a water birth is experimenting with different labour positions. Some of the recommended water birth positions include squatting, sitting, kneeling and lying down, and feeling what is most comfortable for you.
- Decide on your obstetrician, a registered midwife and your doula. If you are giving birth outside the hospital, it is essential to have an experienced physician and registered midwife to deliver the baby and monitor you closely, just in case of complications. A doula is responsible for taking great care of the mummy.
Once you have everything planned and ready, don’t forget about a few essential items that will see you through your water birth.
home water birth
Items You Will Need for a Water Birth in Singapore
Even if the birth tub is an essential part of the process, it is not the only item that you’ll need to get.
When you are planning a water birth in Singapore, you need to have all your bases covered to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible. Some of the additional items you may need include:
- A couple of clean old towels
- A clean bucket to place the placenta
- Bin liners – The tub is actually lined before it is filled with water
- A fishing net to filter and remove debris
- A thermometer to check the water temperature. Your midwife will have to monitor this.
- A TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine
- Maternity pads
- A warm robe for when you get out of the tub
- Adapters to fit your taps
- Light snacks and drinks will keep your glucose and energy levels up as you prepare for birth
- A birth ball is optional but will be a useful distraction between contractions.
- All the essentials your baby will need once he greets the world. Think clothing, pre-warmed towels, a diaper and immediate access to a clean washing-up bowl.
- Your midwife should also have an underwater Doppler to monitor your baby’s heartbeat.
Do note that this list is just a guide, and is not a comprehensive list of things you need for a water birth. It is absolutely essential to discuss your ideas with your Doula.
When it comes to planning a water birth, they offer invaluable advice and pointers and will ensure that you receive the one-on-one care you’ll need.
A woman in labour cannot be left unattended even if there are no complications. Planning ahead can only go towards ensuring a better birthing experience for you.
Updates from theAsianparent Philippines.
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