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Benefits and Risks of Giving Birth in Water

Dr. Mohan Krishna Raut 90% (81 ratings)
MD - Obstetrtics & Gynaecology, MBBS, DGO
Gynaecologist, Mumbai  •  29 years experience
Benefits and Risks of Giving Birth in Water

Water birth, as revolutionary as it might sound, is not a bad idea. Common in the European countries like Australia and New Zealand, many birth centres in the United States have also started installing water birth tubs. It is the process of giving birth in a warm water tub, which is said to ease the process. The logic behind this goes that since the baby stays in the mother's womb for nine months in a water sac, therefore, birthing in a similar environment is better for the baby and less complex. Many obstetricians believe that this also prevents any kind of foetal complications. 

There are both benefits and risk of water birth. They are as follows:

Benefits of water birth: 
Water labour and water birth has the following advantages for the mother and the baby.

For the mother:

  1. The warm water provides mobility and comfort to the mother. The mother is also at a spontaneous position in water to change her location and deliver the baby.
  2. Pressure on the abdomen is decreased. Buoyancy helps in the efficient contraction of the uterine walls and it improves blood circulation, which again gives better supply of oxygen to the uterine muscles. The baby is provided with sufficient amount of oxygen while the mother endures lesser pain.
  3. Birthing in water helps in conservation of energy on part of the mother. The immersion helps to reduce collision with gravity and gives support to the mother's weight. This energy produced helps in coping with the uterine muscle contractions.
  4. The process of labour becomes more productive as it gives relaxation to the mother. While the mother calms down in the water, her hormones start working better and in turn the process is accelerated. The water also helps in soothing the pelvic muscles.
  5. The immersion helps in lowering the level of blood pressure and in reducing anxiety.
  6. Stress is hugely reduced as the mother is at ease and this helps in producing endorphins that serve as pain inhibitors.

For the baby:

  1. The baby gets a similar environment as the amniotic sac which helps in the birthing process gets added support.
  2. The stress of birth is greatly reduced.

Risks of water birth:

  1. There remains a risk of water embolism that is when the water enters into the mother's bloodstream.
  2. If the mother has herpes, this practice should not be followed as herpes spreads in water faster.
  3. This should be avoided in case of excessive bleeding and any kind of maternal infection. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a gynaecologist.
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