Pros and Cons of having your Baby in Water

The degree to which medical professionals may know anything at all about water birthing seems to depend on where one lives.  The overwhelming lack of knowledge on this practice in the USA forces women to go it alone as a freebirther.  Giving birth without medical supervision may not be legal as of this reading (2011).   In the UK, this might already be illegal.  UK law.

Fortunately, there is much more information online these days than there was in 2002.  In 2001, this writer couldn’t find a doctor in an hundred mile radius that knew (or would admit so) how to do a water birth.  Which means that more doctors aught to know something about it now as well.

The PROs of water birthing include:  Less stressful for the baby, it may reduce fetal complications Americanpregnancy), it is Less painful for the mother, the possibility of a shorter labor, may lend mommy the extra energy she needs (this is very important if the mother has any adrenal fatigue or diabetes), helps uterine contractions, helps with blood circulation, more oxygen for the baby, good for moms who have high blood pressure, less chance of a cesarean section, reduces tearing, versatility of use, and it’s easier for the mother to move as needed.

The CONs of water birthing include: Not being able to find a doctor or midwife who will oversee one’s care when this is the choice, complications of birth (there is a high chance of this if diabetes or age is already present), problems with the umbilical cord, and certain conditions that are not ideal for water birthing.  Waterbirthingfacts.

Situations or conditions that are not ideal for water birthing can include Herpes, multiple births, breech, if one is a bleeder (like many who have type O blood), infections or open wounds below the waist, possible meconium, and if toxemia or preclampsia is present.

If a birthing center or medical facility isn’t available but a willing doctor is, here are some basics one needs to know.  A simple garden tub or water trough from a farm store can do the job nicely. 

It will have a spigot to drain and be relatively comfortable.  They hare made into a hard rubber or fiberglass rounded tub.  This will need to be thoroughly rinsed and sterilized at least once prior to birth. 

This type of tub is best because if there are complications, people can get around the whole tub to retrieve mom and babe.  These tubs are also deep enough that a mom can deliver on her knees.  She has the ability to reach down and catch the baby.  Her husband or partner can be behind her to help keep the baby from slipping out of her grasp.

One doesn’t get into the tub of warm water until the dilation is about 4 to 5 centimeters and contractions have gotten close together.  The water temp can be from About 97 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Unflouridated water is preferred.  But, tap can work fine. 

The water should be somewhat saline, just in case it’s needed.  Pickling salt is best since it hasn’t had any caking agents added.  But it probably doesn’t matter.  The baby shouldn’t take a breath until it comes to the air for the first time. 

The salt isn’t for buoyancy.  It’s an isotonic in that it mimics what the baby is used to.  Without precision, the approximate amount of salt would be 1 cup to a full tub of water.

Water can be used just for labor pains or birthing as well.  Forceps are not required.  Any home labor that goes beyond 18 hours bears worry.  This is where a midwife is also valuable because she can determine if an emergency room visit is necessary.

Home birthing isn’t for the over 30 crowd or the faint-hearted (but it IS possible).  It’s exhausting to the point of blackout or worse.  Having a doctor or midwife assisting one during labor and delivery is a very good idea.  A doctor may also be able to have staff on stand-by at the hospital in case that is needed.