Waterbirth is considered a gentle birth technique. If you choose this method, you will give birth in a specially designed tub or pool of warm water. It is considered a gentle birth technique because your baby will be gently introduced to the world by being born in warm water. The baby is most familiar with warm fluid so the infant does not experience fear or pain when coming into contact with it. The water benefits the mother as well. Her weight is supported by the water; the comfort of the bath relaxes tensions and eases labor pains; additionally, she has the freedom to change positions and become more comfortable. Partners can also be in the tub, holding and massaging the mother as she goes through labor and delivery. After the baby has descended through the birth canal and into the warm water, some women even choose to deliver the infants themselves, with attendants nearby if needed of course!
Once the cool air touches the baby’s skin and umbilical cord, the physiological system is signaled and the baby will then begin using his or her lungs. The child will not inhale water because the child’s instinct to breathe air is only activated when they come into contact with air.
Some studies on waterbirth have shown that laboring in water, under midwifery care, may be an option for slow progress in labor, reducing the need for obstetric intervention and offering an alternative pain management strategy. Specifically, in the study “Effects of Intrapartum Hydrotherapy on Labor Related Parameters” showed that nulliparas (first-time mothers) who used a birthing pool had significantly reduced operative delivery rates, a shorter second stage of labor, reduced analgesic requirements, and a lower incidence of perineal trauma. In multiparas (repeat birthers) there were significant reductions in the analgesic requirements.
If you think this option is right for you and your family, you should start speaking with midwives in your area that are familiar with waterbirthing as soon as possible.