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RaMa Mama Doula Share of the Month: Water Birth - The Pros and Cons...

Many mothers dream about their ideal way to give birth, and one of the most popular responses is a water birth. When watching birthing videos, most women report that the water births seem more peaceful and seem to be less painful. So what are the real statistics on this topic?

First of all, it is important to discuss the difference between hydrotherapy, water immersion in labor, and a water birth. Hydrotherapy is when water is used therapeutically during labor and/or birth. When a mother uses warm water in a tub or pool during the first stage of labor, before birth, then it is considered to be a water immersion. When the mother pushes the baby out of her body and it is born in the water, then it is considered a water birth. Even though doctors and midwives argue on the safety of birthing in water, the facts of countless birth experiences teaches us that water immersion during labor posed no extra risks to the mother or baby than a land birth.

Randomized Controlled Trials on water births have been studied and the statistics show that mothers experience lower pain, they use less pain medications during labor, they are less likely to need Pitocin, labor is shorter, there's a higher rate of vaginal births, there's a lower rate of tearing the perineum and having an episiotomy, and there are reports of a greater overall feeling of satisfaction with the birthing experience.

Most people have had the experience of a bath, hot tub or jacuzzi time in water. The warm water and jets can be extremely relaxing and soothing. Our muscles loosen and the entire body lets go. This is ideal when a mother is trying to be relaxed and physically, emotionally, and mentally open in order to create more ease in her birth. Although the water temperature is close to body temperature, it is still relaxing and soothing. This specific birthing experience is also said to offer a more gentle transition to the outside world for the baby. Right after exiting the womb, they are able to transition to water for a few seconds before coming out to the air. Overall, there are so many more benefits to adding water to either part or all of the birth experience than there are challenges.

The expecting mothers who have challenges moving in and out of a tub, however, should not try a water birth. Also, those who are expecting multiple babies, have blood pressure issues, have a breech baby or baby in distress, or are experiencing an infectious disease are not candidates for a water birth. Most all of the research out there for a water birth talks about these dangers, but also identifies that people who are squeamish and don't want to see what comes out of a mother during birth, probably shouldn't choose a Water Birth for their experience. The only other danger discussed is in regards to the umbilical cord. Especially when the cord is short or if the baby is lifted out of the water too abruptly, there is a higher risk of newborn cord avulsion, or snapping of the umbilical cord. These are the main reasons against Water Birth.

Most hospitals are starting to incorporate birthing tubs or pools of warm water to their birthing options during. They mostly agree that laboring in the water is safe and helpful, but they also feel that there is not enough research to giving birth in the water. For this reason, most hospitals that have birthing tubs make the mother-to-be get out of the tub to deliver the baby. What is most important is that the pregnant mother does what she feels most comfortable and safe to do during her labor and delivery. By following intuition and higher guidance, the birth will hopefully be the most beautiful, safe, and transformational experience for all involved.

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