Water Birth Benefits

Water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub of warm water. Some women choose to labor in the water and get out for delivery. Other women decide to stay in the water for the delivery as well. The theory behind water birth is that since the baby has already been in the amniotic fluid sac for nine months, birthing in a similar environment is gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother.

Midwives, birthing centers, and a growing number of obstetricians believe that reducing the stress of labor and delivery will reduce fetal complications. Water birth should always occur under the supervision of a qualified health care provider.

What are the potential benefits of water birth?

Benefits for Mother:

  • Warm water is soothing, comforting, relaxing.
  • In the later stages of labor, the water has been shown to increase the woman’s energy.
  • The effect of buoyancy lessens a mother’s body weight, allowing free movement and new positioning.
  • Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and improved blood circulation resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, less pain for the mother, and more oxygen for the baby.
  • Immersion in water often helps lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety.
  • The water seems to reduce stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins which serve as pain-inhibitors.
  • Water causes the perineum to become more elastic and relaxed, reducing the incidence and severity of tearing and the need for an episiotomy and stitches.
  • As the laboring woman relaxes physically, she is able to relax mentally with greater ability to focus on the birth process.
  • Since the water provides a greater sense of privacy, it can reduce inhibitions, anxiety, and fears.

Benefits for Baby:

  • Provides an environment similar to the amniotic sac.
  • Eases the stress of birth, thus increasing reassurance and sense of security.

What are the risks to the mother and baby?

Over the last 30 years as water birth has grown in popularity, there has been very little research regarding the risks of water birth. Some studies in Europe have shown similar perinatal mortality rates between water births and conventional births.1

According to an article written by the Royal College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists, there might be a theoretical risk of water embolism, which occurs when water enters the mother’s blood stream.2 Though the British Medical Journal is 95% confident in the safety of water births, they see a possible risk of water aspiration.

If the baby is experiencing stress in the birth canal or if the umbilical cord becomes kinked or twisted, the baby might gasp for air with the possibility of inhaling water.3

This would be a rare occurrence because babies do not normally inhale until they are exposed to air. They continue to receive oxygen through the umbilical cord until they start to breathe on their own or until the cord is cut. The final potential risk is that the umbilical cord could snap as the baby is brought to the surface of the water. This can be prevented by using caution when lifting the baby up to the mother’s chest.

What situations are not ideal for water birth?

  • If you have Herpes: Herpes transfers easily in water, so you should discuss this risk thoroughly with your health care provider.
  • If your baby is breech: Although water birth has been done with bottom or feet first presentations, you should discuss this risk thoroughly with your health care provider.
  • If you have been diagnosed with one of the following: excessive bleeding or maternal infection.
  • If you are having multiples: Although water births have been successful around the world with twin births, you should discuss this risk thoroughly with your doctor.
  • If preterm labor is expected: If a baby is pre-term (two weeks or more prior to due date), water birth is not recommended.
  • If there is severe meconium: Mild to moderate meconium is fairly normal. Since meconium floats to the surface in a tub, your health care provider will watch for it and remove it immediately, or help you out of the tub. Meconium usually washes off the face of the baby and even comes out of the nose and mouth while the baby is still under water. If the water is stained and birth is imminent, the woman can lift her pelvis out of the water to birth the infant.
  • If you have toxemia or preeclampsia: You should thoroughly discuss this risk with your health care provider.

 

The 7 Hormones Known to be in the Placenta

These are the much needed hormones that transfer from the placenta to your body upon consumption:

  1. Oxytocin – The feel good of love hormone, bonding and pain relief, feelings of happiness and elation.
  2. Cortisone – This hormone unlocks energy in the body  and combats stress.
  3. Interferon– This hormone stimulates the immune system to fight off infections while the mother is recovering from birth.
  4. Prostaglandins – Acts as an anti-inflammatory.
  5. Hemoglobin – Replenishes iron and stimulates iron production in blood.
  6. Urokinase – Inhibiting factor and factor XIII- Lessons bleeding and promotes faster healing.
  7. Prolactin – Stimulates healthy mammary functions and milk production.

Midwives: Benefits of Having a Midwife

The term midwife reflects a philosophy of care that is directed toward women and their individual reproductive needs. A midwife usually offers a variety of options and seeks to eliminate or minimize unnecessary interventions. This philosophy is represented by the Midwives Model of Care.

The Midwives Model of Care is based on the belief that pregnancy and birth are normal life processes.

 The Midwives Model of Care includes:
  • “Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle
  • Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support
  • Minimizing technological interventions
  • Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention.”1

What is a midwife?

A midwife is a health care professional who provides an array of health care services for women including gynecological examinations, contraceptive counseling, prescriptions, and labor and delivery care. Providing expert care during labor and delivery, and after birth is a specialty that makes midwives unique.

What services do midwives provide?

The services of a midwife depend on the certification and licensing credentials obtained and the practice restrictions of each state. Because of the additional licensure in nursing, a nurse-midwife can offer the most comprehensive array of health care services to women.

These services include annual gynecological exams, family planning and preconception care, prenatal care, labor and delivery support, newborn care, and menopausal management. Midwives generally provide reproductive education in fertility, nutrition, exercise, contraception, pregnancy health, breastfeeding, and quality infant care.

Midwives often function as both a quality and economical option for birthing care.

What are the different types of midwives?

Midwives are qualified health care providers who receive comprehensive training and must pass an examination to become certified. Certification is offered by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) and the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM).

The practice and credentials related to midwifery differ throughout the United States.

Below is a brief description of each of type of midwife:

  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM): a midwife trained and licensed in nursing and midwifery. Nurse-midwives must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. They are also certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.
  • Certified Midwife (CM): an individual trained and certified in midwifery. Certified midwives must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. They are also certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.
  • Certified Professional Midwife (CPM): an individual who is trained in midwifery and meets  standards of the North American Registry of Midwives. Multiple educational backgrounds are recognized to become a CPM.
  • Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM): an independent individual trained in midwifery through various sources that may include apprenticeship, self-study, a midwifery school, or a college/university program.
  • Lay Midwife: an individual who is not certified or licensed as a midwife but has received informal training through self-study or apprenticeship.

Where do midwives practice?

Midwives believe in facilitating a natural childbirth as much as possible. Accordingly, it is common to receive care from a midwife in a private and comfortable birthing center or in your own home. Because of their professionalism and expertise, midwives are often part of a labor and delivery team associated with a local hospital.

You can choose to use the services of a midwife whether you elect to give birth at home, a birthing center, or at a hospital.

What are the benefits of using a midwife?

One of the main reasons women decide to use a midwife is to experience childbirth as naturally as possible. An additional benefit of having a midwife is their various payment options. Midwives often offer payment plans and sliding fees, and are willing to accept most insurance plans including Medicaid.

According to the American College of Nurse Midwives, benefits of receiving midwifery care include:

  • Decreased risk of needing a cesarean
  • Reduced rates of labor induction and augmentation
  • Reduced use of regional anesthesia
  • Decreased infant mortality rates
  • Decreased risk of preterm birth
  • Decreased third and fourth degree perineal tears
  • Lower costs for both clients and insurers
  • Increased chances of having a positive start to breastfeeding
  • Increased satisfaction with quality of care 2,3

What are the concerns related to using a midwife?

There are cases in which either the mother or the baby will require medical interventions that are outside the scope of services offered by a midwife.

Midwives routinely consult with obstetricians, perinatologists, and other healthcare professionals, and will refer women to appropriate medical professionals if complications arise.

If a woman has a high-risk pregnancy and/or if complications are anticipated, it is recommended to choose a hospital setting with more convenient access to obstetricians, perinatologists, and other professionals trained to address complications affecting either the mother or baby.

www.americanpregnancy.org