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Water Birth |

Posted on August 30, 2012 at 3:35 PM

What is 'Waterbirth'? Waterbirth is the use of a heated water bath or pool by a woman during labour and birth. Some women use the pool for labour only, choosing to birth their babies on “land” while others stay in the pool to birth the baby, leaving to deliver the placenta, and still others stay in the pool for the entire process. There is no right or wrong way. What feels right for the mother and is safest for mother and baby is what counts. 

Currently, waterbirth is not an option for hospital births in London; however you may use the tub and showers available in the birthing suites.  For those choosing to have a homebirth, there are several options available.  You can use you existing tub and shower, use a blow-up kiddie pool, or rent a full sized Birth Tub.  Bellies2Babies is proud to offer this service.

 Is waterbirth safe?

Yes! To date, there are estimates that more than 100,000 waterbirths have taken place world-wide with no reports of life-threatening complications for either the mother or the baby. 

 What prevents the baby from breathing underwater?

There are four main factors that prevent the baby from inhaling water at the time of birth:

Prostaglandin E2 levels from the placenta cause a slowing down or stopping of the fetal bre7b8athing movements. When baby is born, the Prostaglandin level is still high. Simply put, the baby's muscles for breathing aren’t working yet.Babies are normally born with mild hypozia or lack of oxygen.  Hypoxia causes apnea and swallowing, not breathing or gasping.Water is a hypotonic solution and lung fluids present in the fetus are hypertonic. So, even if water were to travel in past the larynx, they could not pass into the lungs.The Dive Reflex and the larynx. The larynx has five times as many as taste buds as the whole surface of the tongue. So, when a solution hits the back of the throat, passing the larynx, the taste buds interprets what substance it is and the glottis automatically closes and the solution is then swallowed, not inhaled. How long can the baby be left underwater?

Standard practice in Canada is to bring the baby out of the water within the first ten seconds after birth. There is no physiological reason to leave the baby under the water for any length of time.

Physiologically, the placenta is supporting the baby with oxygen during this time though it can never be predicted when the placenta will begin to separate causing the flow of oxygen to baby to stop.

 How is the baby monitored during waterbirth?

The manufacturers of monitoring equipment and hand held Doppler’s have developed waterproof varieties of monitoring equipment. In typical waterbirths the baby’s heart tones are listened to every 30 minutes during first stage and after every pushing contraction during second stage.

 How do I have a ‘waterbirth’?

If you are having your baby in the hospital, you will not be able to birth your baby in the water.  However, most birthing suites are equipped with tubs and/or showers.  You can use them even if your water has broken if you practice proper hygiene. A Danish study revealed no increased infection in women who bathed throughout labour. Another study proved that water does not enter the vagina when a woman remains upright in the tub.

If you are planning a homebirth, you have several options.  You home tub is not deep or wide enough for proper buoyancy.  Sometimes an inflatable kiddie pool works, or you can purchase or rent a Birth Tub.

The water should be whatever is comfortable for the mother, usually between 35-38°C (95-100 °F).  You can easily increase the temperature a few degrees with a kettle or two full of hot water.

Tips to do as soon as labour begins:

Increase the temperature of your hot water tank to insure plenty of warm water. Have lots of towels and receiving blankets on hand. Keep hydrated, this is commonly overlooked because the mother’s temperature is being regulated by the water temperature.

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