Water birth, doubts and benefits

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Childbirth in water has been highly evoked in recent years. Between its supporters and its critics, this type of birth has become more common and there are already several spaces that allow it. Do you know the benefits of giving birth in water?

If you have any doubts about this type of childbirth, this is the right moment to clear them up with Baby on Board.

The H Hour is a very special moment for pregnant women, since the whole process lived throughout 9 months is about to materialize with the birth of the child.

Therefore, as could not be otherwise, mums find thousands of questions to ask about it, wanting to ensure that everything goes as planned and with as little anxiety as possible.

Some of the questions mums ask themselves or their doctor before the day of birth are about the type of delivery (normal or caesarean), the presence of the father in the room during the birth, or even whether or not they can use gel varnish at this time.

In addition to this, many women also want to know more about what they should put in their maternity suitcase or how painful the epidural will be for them.

The range of questions that can be asked regarding the time of childbirth is enormous and makes sense. Adding to them, a very important question is related to how the woman actually wants to give birth.

And it is precisely in these meanderings that an increasingly acclaimed option emerges: childbirth in water.

Water birth has been the subject of studies for several years, and several benefits have been found in using this method. However, opposition voices are also reminding us of the dangers inherent in this method.

Do you know what water birth consists of? Do you know the benefits and risks?

Then, it’s time to clear up all your doubts so that you can make an informed decision as to how your birth will take place.

Water birth: what does it consist of?

Water birth is a process of giving birth which usually takes place in a bathtub or swimming pool filled with warm water.

This is a method increasingly chosen by women and is based on the theory that the environment created by the container of warm water allows the baby a less abrupt transition into our world, creating a space more similar to the one they have known until then, in the womb, among the amniotic fluid.

In addition, it is also believed that this means of giving birth may be less stressful for the pregnant woman.

Many experts (including obstetricians and midwives) have validated the option of water birth, believing that it allows for a calmer time and contributes to a reduction in foetal complications.

However, they also stress the need for the whole process to be accompanied by a qualified professional.

Originally idealized by Michael Ondent, a French doctor, this type of birth could be performed in a clinic/hospital with the means to do so or in the pregnant woman’s own home. The water should be kept between 35 and 37ºC, to ensure an adequate environment that favours the mother’s movements.

What are the benefits of childbirth in water?

Several benefits are associated with this type of birth, both for the pregnant woman and her baby. For the mother, the main benefits are:

– The comfort and relaxation allowed by the warm water;
– The lower body weight of the mother and her help in the process, namely through a greater permission of movements and positions in the process of giving birth;
– Improved blood pressure and more effective uterine contractions;
– Reduction of labour pains, even without the use of anaesthesia;
– Reduction of stress by reducing stress-related hormones (noradrenaline and catecholamines) and stimulating the production of endorphins (hormones that promote a feeling of well-being);
– Improved mobility of the pregnant woman and an increase in the possibilities of positioning the mother;
– Better ability to focus on the process of birth due to a greater sense of privacy and a reduction in the fears and anxieties related to the hour of delivery.

For the baby, other benefits have also been mentioned, such as the following

– Creation of an environment similar to that experienced by the fetus during its stay in the mother’s womb;
– Reduction of the shock felt by the baby in the passage from the uterine environment to our world;
– Increasing the baby’s sense of security and comfort.

Are there any risks associated with giving birth in water?

Although, percentage wise, women who embark on water birth praise the positive side of the experience more, the truth is that it is not totally free of risks and is not suitable for all pregnant women.

This type of birth should be avoided when:

– the mother has experienced a risky pregnancy;
– the baby is over 4.5 kilos in weight
– the mother suffers from herpes or has an infection
– it is a multiple pregnancy;
– it is a premature birth;

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Written by Ana Rita Mendes

Ana Rita Mendes was born in 1992 and was born in Proença-a-Nova, Portugal. In 2014, she finished her degree in Nursing at the Escola Superior de Saúde de Portalegre. She currently works as a nurse at the Curry Cabral Hospital and NephroCare. Facebook

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