What are the benefits of Water Birth for mother and baby
Waterbirth – so simple, yet so complex. There are so many reasons to embrace it, not least of which is that water forms a protective cocoon aorund the mother, allowing her to do what she must do in order to birth her baby. GENTLY.
Much has been written about waterbirth, and its benefits. Here are the most important ones that we see, in no particular order:
- Water is soothing, comforting and relaxing
- The bouyancy of water, increases the mother’s mobility, allowing her to shift and change positions easily.
- Most mothers that we know, are able to relax better both during contractions, but most importantly, relax deeply to the point of even sleeping between contractions!
- The levels of relaxation, further increase release of oxytocin, which makes for better contractions
- Along with better blood circulation, this means better oxygenation to the uterine muscles, and lesser pain to mother. Most women that we know, once they go into water in their labor, seldom want to come out of it!
- Once the mother starts to perceive less pain, she starts to be less anxious. This allows for better release of endorphins, called “nature’s narcotics”. These endorphins allow the mother to go into a dream-like state, which allows her to focus internally on the task of giving birth to her baby, shutting out unneccesary external disturbances
- Regulates dysfunctional labor, helping the cervix to relax
- Length of labor is shortened.. there are studies supporting this! Here is a link to some excellent research.
- No wonder water is called “Watermerol” or “Aquadural” None of the side effects of an epidural, but all the benefits of reduced pain!!
- Less internal exams!! Now, who does not want that?
- No episiotomies!
- Water makes the perineal muscles relax, allows for slow and better stretching of the vaginal area (especially since the mother is in control) and decreases incidences of tearing and susbsequent need for sutures.
Benefits to the Baby:
- More blood to baby due to better blood circulation in mother
- Provides a similar environment as the baby has always known inside his or her mom
- Eases the stress of birth for the baby
- Better skin-to-skin, undistrubed mother-baby bonding (remember they are in their cocoon??!) and so better opportunities for breastfeeding
Below is a video clip of International Waterbirth Expert Dianne Garland talking about her research into the benefits of Waterbirth
Waterbirth is empowering to the mother, allows for careproviders to remain hands-off, and allows for gentle birth for mother and gentle beginnings for the baby. As Waterbirth guru Barbara Harper says, “Waterbirth is more a philosophy of non-intervention, than a method or way to give birth. It embodies a spiritual aspect of birth that is hard to express”. We agree.