Pros & Cons of Waterbirth

#10 Small Talk 2019

photo credit: tipsdemadre.com

Have you
been considering having a waterbirth? Many women choose this way as they are of
the opinion that this is a very natural and gentler way for a little human to
enter our world. They may also be looking for a means of avoiding any drugs
whilst going through labour. You may be thinking, what exactly is a
“waterbirth”? Well, in a waterbirth, the mom to be remains in the water during
the pushing phase and for the actual birth of the baby after which the baby is
brought to the surface of the water. Some choose to just labour in water and
have the actual birth on dry land, so to speak. Let’s look at the advantages
and disadvantages associated with a waterbirth so that you can see if it
appeals to you.

Pros of waterbirth

  • Less pain is experienced by moms who choose a waterbirth
  • There is a lower rate of epistotomy in waterbirths – a real blessing not to have one of these! The perineum (that little bit between the anus and vagina) is less likely to tear and should it tear, it doesn’t tear as much as in a dry labour.
  • Bleeding after the birth is also reduced
  • Because less pain is experienced, the mom doesn’t have to have so much medication for pain relief
  • Fewer babies land up in the intensive care unit when born during a waterbirth

Those are
some pretty big advantages and well worth considering. There are, as with all
things, a few disadvantages of a waterbirth. Here they are:

Cons of waterbirth

  • A
    rare event is the tearing of the umbilical cord when the baby is lifted to the
    surface. Therefore, care needs to be taken when guiding the infant to the
    surface
  • The
    baby may breathe in some water but this is extremely rare and when it has
    happened all babies have recovered fully
  • There
    have been a few reports of infection after a waterbirth. It is wise to check
    how often the hospital checks their water supply and the hoses by doing
    bacterial cultures

So there are
very few disadvantages really! Some women worry mainly about the baby breathing
in the water in those few seconds before he or she is lifted out. There are
some thoughts as to why this event is so very rare, however. It is thought that
as the baby has not yet come into contact with air his or her skin receptors do
not stimulate that first breath. Another thought is that there is no need for
the baby to breathe as long as he or she is attached to the umbilical cord, as
his blood is being oxygenated by the placenta. There are also many hormones
released by the placenta and also the brain which are thought to prevent the
baby from inhaling water. Yet another proposal is that the baby has chemical
receptors which detect water and close the airway – the so-called dive reflex
(seen when very young babies are gently dropped in a swimming pool to learn to
float).

Conclusion

Well there
you have it! It seems to me that if you are inclined towards having a
waterbirth then there are not many reasons as to why you shouldn’t go ahead. In
fact there are far more advantages than disadvantages. But do your homework.
Find out about the infection rate of waterbirths in the hospital you are going
to use. Make sure that your midwife is well-versed in waterbirths and how to
lift the baby out without tearing the umbilical cord.

To those of
you who are going to have a waterbirth, I wish you a happy “splash down” and a
healthy little one!

Yours in
lifestyle newborn photography

Lydia

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