A water birth is something that a lot of expecting mums are starting to consider putting into their birth plans. There are many mums-to-be who are looking for natural ways to relieve discomfort during labour and birth, and water-birthing is something that evidence shows us can and often does help with this.
Labouring and birthing in water is becoming increasingly popular due to its soothing effects on both mother and baby. Many midwives and birth practitioners have noted that babies born into water are often calmer, they may be born and take a minute or two before they cry, some baby’s not at all!
It is said that being born into warm water makes the birthing process gentler for the baby, as a warm pool of water is similar to the womb and makes the process of becoming used to the outside world smoother. The buoyancy of the water can also help to improve blood circulation in the mother, helping her muscles to work more effectively, and bringing more oxygen to the baby. It can also calm anxiety in the mother which can help to lower blood pressure caused by stress.
There are many other reasons why labouring in water can help, and there are an increasing number of women who are under a consultant for their care, who are also choosing to birth in the water. In the weeks leading up to birth it’s a good idea to chat to your midwife or consultant regarding your thoughts and choices about using water for labour or to birth in. For information on your rights in pregnancy visit the Birthright website.
If you opt for a hospital water birth, the midwives will get the pool ready for you when you are in labour. Most hospitals or birth centres will have a birthing pool, however there are also blow-up pools which allow a soft surface to lean on whilst you labour and birth. There are many reports that the enveloping warmth of the water helps to soothe the discomfort that labour can cause, and give a feeling of protection, allowing for a more relaxed labour.
If you are planning a hospital birth in a pool then it is a good idea to pack some extra cosy towels, a dressing gown, and even a bikini if you feel you might want to stay more covered up.
Some people think that to have a water birth you must go to a hospital. But you can also have a water birth at home. There are companies who rent out birthing pools and give you all the guidance you need to feel confident setting it up and maintaining it during your labour and birth. It is a good idea to talk through this option with your midwife.
There are birthing pools available that are large enough for your birth partner to join you in the pool. This can help with massage techniques that you might want to practise during labour and birth. Alternatively, it might be useful for your birth partner to stay out of the pool so that they can assist with keeping the water temperature correct.
At The Real Birth Studio Hereford, we currently have a birth pool set up from Gentle Births that you can come and see. You can even deflate and inflate it so that you can get a feel for how easy it is. It might help you to make your decision on whether you would like to use water during your labour and birth. If you would like to come and see the birth pool or attend a water birth session please contact us on 07543 165665.