Under-water birthing: Why women are so curious to know

Updated: Aug 21, 2019, 21:44 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

A birthing centre is the one where it is more homes like rather than a hospital

This picture has been used for representational purpose
This picture has been used for representational purpose

A Water Birth is where labour and delivery, either partly or fully happen when the labouring mom is in a birth pool filled with warm water. The birth pools are found in a hospital or a birthing centre. A birthing centre is the one where it is more homes like rather than a hospital.

The first advantage is pain relief. When the labouring moms are in a pool of lukewarm water when the contractions start or labour pains start, the warmth of the water is very soothing and calming. The need of pain relievers or analgesics is reduced. The circulation improves and the back and the perineal muscles are relaxed. Once the labouring mother is relaxed, the contractions come on better and labor progression is smoother.

In a standard hospital bed that the mother is in when she is in labour is very restricting and all that she can do is turn right or left or in a semi-reclining position. Unless of course, she gets out of bed to walk around. However, few women wish to walk around when in labour. If the woman is in water birthing suites, it allows more freedom of movement in the first stage of labour.

It has also been noticed that women who use water birthing facilities, the chances of a perineal tear happening is much lesser. The tissues are more supple and result in the easy descent of the foetus thro’ the birthing canal. Some women prefer to go through the second stage as well in water. The foetus is indeed in a pool of water (amniotic fluid) for 9 months. Therefore, it sounds very natural for the baby to make its first passage through the water.

Dr Rajeshwari Pawar, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Motherhood Hospitals, Kharadi, Pune says it can be dangerous. "Because though the baby breathes in utero, taking the first breath after the baby is born may end up in meconium aspiration and cause a life-threatening complication termed as "Meconium Aspiration Syndrome" or "Pneumonia". Therefore, the second stage of labour which means from the time of full dilatation of the cervix to the delivery of the fetus should not be in the birthing pool," says Pawar.

Moreover, the foetal monitoring (taking a trace of the heartbeat and recording the contractions) is also not possible in the water. The mother may have to intermittently come out of the water and on the bed to undergo the monitoring of her unborn baby.

Pregnant moms who are carrying twins or have had a previous "Lower Segment Caesarean Section" or have raised blood pressure or any other complication are also contraindicated from using a birthing pool. It is meant for only those mothers with no medical risk factors and only the first stage of labour should happen in a birthing pool. The delivery of the baby is safer on "dry land" than in a "pool of water."

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The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 

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