Water Birth - All you need to know!
by sinitta bajaj
Water Birth - All you need to know!
There is so much advancement in the world, and now even natural aspects of life are changing. There are novel options for anything and everything you can think of. Expectant mothers now find themselves confused over an array of birthing options, and choosing the right one without guidance can be a tough feat to achieve.
Surely we’ve all heard of water birth. Or perhaps natural birth. Let’s define natural birth or vaginal birth first. Natural birth may refer to delivery or birth through the natural vaginal passage. Now, this may include medication or not, it really only depends on what the mother envisions her birthing plan to be.
There has been much speculation on the topic of water birth. Some doctors recommend it while some prefer their patients having an alternate birthing option.
What is water birth?
During a water birth a woman experiences labor and attempts delivery in a tub of warm water. This method is also popularly known as hydrotherapy. It is usually carried out at home or birthing centers, depending on a mother and her partner’s preference. Nowadays in the UAE, there are so many hospitals offering water birth rooms such as American hospital, Kings collage hospital london, Mediclinic parkview, Al zahra hospital & Saudi german hospital. You must remember it is significant to hire a healthcare professional or midwife to oversee your prenatal care, prepare you with the correct supplies for home water birth, and ease the labor and birthing process while keeping you educated on the matter.
Different people have different reasons for opting for natural or water birth. Some women feel they cannot be more connected during the process if they’re too medicated, while some simply crave for a natural, gentle experience. Of course, being submerged in a tub of hot water can speed up the labor process and also take away some of the pain that epidurals or spine care relief take care of in a hospital birth.
If you’re a resident of Dubai, here are some hospitals that accommodate patients for water birth - American Hospital, Kings Collage Hospital, Al Zahra Hospital, Saudi German Hospital and Mediclinic Parkview.
What is the criteria one must pass to opt for a water birth?
Say you’re looking for natural birthing options and water birth catches your eye. Yet, there is a rather sizable checklist you must clear if you want your baby and delivery to be a healthy one. Since there is insufficient data on which to draw conclusions from when considering water birth, doctors don’t exactly champion the cause.
However, this must not deter you. The first thing you must do is ensure your OB GYN does a thorough checkup of your pregnancy to gauge any future complications that could deter you from a natural birth. If you're in a high-risk pregnancy, or are expecting complications during labor, you will need continuous monitoring and are most likely ineligible for water birth. Women who suffer from gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, macrosomia, intrauterine growth restriction, and an unproven pelvis should not opt for water birth. There could be complications during the labor and birthing process that could hamper you and your baby.
Needless to say, only your OB GYN can help you understand the full risk depending on your healthcare history because there is much more to water birth than just a warm tub to suspend yourself into.
Benefits of water birth
According to a small study, women who labor in water have a much lower c-section rate while also lessening stress incontinence post delivery (across a span of 42 days to be exact). ACOG claims the immersion in water during the initial stage of labor may help shorten the labor process by two fold. Laboring in water also significantly decreases the pain most women dread during labor. When considering ancient remedies, it is said that water birth is a calm and natural experience for a woman as it provides a sense of floating or weightlessness.
Water birth has benefits beyond the birthing process as well as it ensures a positive effect on the newborn baby as well. More than anything, a water birth can help a mother feel more present during the process as opposed to being maxed out on medication. The statement that waterbirth dulls the pain of birth or lowers it is certainly not a myth. A water birth, at home or at a hospital, can be much less painful that a land birth in bed.
The supplies for home water birth
Disclaimer: As per UAE Law, home water birthing is not permitted. All leading hospitals in the region have amazing water birth facilities with trained professionals and will provide most of the mentioned products in the article.
This does not go out to say that you cannot have the same water birth checklist if you’re planning to have it carried out in a birthing hospital or center. The first thing you must ensure is the purchase or renting of a tub. You must choose the tub yourself since you are the one to sit through the process and not your partner or midwife or OB GYN.
Some midwives supply tubs as well so you can speak with them about renting or purchasing the same. Ideally, you should have chosen, rented, or purchased a tub during your third trimester. The next task is finding a space for your tub, and this doesn’t mean a storage closet. It refers to the space you will choose to have the birthing process in. This step is very important since it will build your vibe, you don’t want to be shifting once labor begins.
Next, you’ll need a birth pool liner to clean out the pool and heat the pool if you rent or purchase the same. You will also need a fishnet strainer to fish out solid materials during the process. Below is a list of other supplies that will make your water birth easier and more efficient:
- A garden hose that can reach the space you chose for the tub
- A tarp so your flooring is protected (important step if you love your interiors, which who doesn’t?)
- Elastic sheet to cover the tub till you wait for labor
- Towels (lots of them)
- Floating thermometer to regulate the temperature
- Adapter to attach the hose to the sink
- Pots to boil water as a backup
- 2-3 pounds of sea salt or Epsom salts (to soothe your body and help it relax)
- Plenty of water to help you hydrate
- Infection measures must be in place
- Nitrous oxide gas (for pain relief - consult your doctor before purchase)
The ideal temperature for a water birth ranges from 97-100° F (36.1 and 37.8°C). The rest, your midwife or healthcare professional can help you - cleaning, knowing when to submerge, how much salt to use, what to do with the water hose, or how to regulate the temperature.
The stages of water birth
Like a birthing process carried out in the hospital, water birth too has stages you must follow.
The first stage - Submersion
This is a rather obvious one and is exactly what we’ve been discussing above. Your midwife will tell you when it’s safe to enter the tub. In short, the first stage approaches when your contractions begin and ends when your cervix is fully dilated. Some science suggests that water birth or floating around in a hot water tub during labor can reduce risk of severe vaginal tearing.
Do ensure the water is absolutely clean when entering the tub, we don’t need to tell you how you can harbor and infection or two if the water is not impeccable.
The second stage - Exiting the tub
Things tend to be different during this stage. No more floating around and fishing mucus and blood from the tub (it is completely normal for that to happen). Your cervix will be fully dilated and open and you’ll be ready to push the baby out. There is much argument over whether this stage should also be carried out in the water. If that worries you, then we are here to tell you that you may opt for either one. Pushing the baby out in the tub or exiting the tub during delivery can both be safe options for a mother, it all depends on preference, comfort level, your doula or OB GYN.
Do be careful since your doctor could suggest a c-section last minute as well and being suspended in water if that could be a possibility may not be the best course to take.
The limitations of water birth
Did you think we were going to let you go without informing you all the way? Like any other delivery alternative, water birth too has its limitations. This is mainly to do with pain management options and any risks related to your pregnancy. As we have stressed above, it is significant to adhere to the advice your OB GYN or physician gives to you throughout pregnancy and delivery.
If there are any complications in your pregnancy you would need to understand the risks of opting for a water birth from your doctor since pain management options are limited with the particular method. Even though being submerged in water can stand in for an epidural during a hospital birth, you must keep in mind that the method works in different ways for different people. Some mothers could be taken aback by the poop in the water during pushing (quite normal in vaginal births), or the mucus and blood. Well, you will have your strainer to fish it out, so there’s always a silver lining.
You can always choose a hospital that offers the option for water birth so even if you change your mind, you have professionals around you to help. You’re now thinking how to go about it, aren’t you? We all know that a mother prefers to keep her partner close during delivery and labor, it doesn’t have to do with the kind of birthing method she’s chosen. It gives her a sense of support and relief to have someone she trusts. Now, if you choose to have a home water birth, you would need to have a doula or midwife present at all times. You can contact a healthcare service to procure one. A doula is a health professional and an expert at delivery, pregnancy, and labor. A hospital birth would mean having a doula and doctor present at all times.
The bottom line here is that we support you in all your choices, throughout pregnancy, during the delivery, and after. We believe that a mother must choose her own path to motherhood and its processes after being informed about all the benefits and risks of each alternative and option.