The benefits and practicalities of having a water birth explained.
The weeks leading up to the birth of your child can be a worrying time, not least surrounding the decisions regarding the type of birth you are deciding to go for. A popular choice for a lot of mums to be is a water birth; and, as with most there are several things to think about when planning one.
With the first recorded water birth taking place in 1805, and a roughly estimated 60% of NHS hospitals now providing water birth facilities, their popularity has soared in recent years. Water births can create a very special environment in which to give birth, and can be done at home. While the personal comforts that home can bring can be beneficial, it has also been proven by recent research that water births can actually help relive the pains of labour.
While the natural pain relief water births offer is clearly a big benefit to the experience, there are also several other advantages to this very special birthing option. Being submerged in water can give you a great sense of privacy and control, easing security and embarrassment anxieties; and while these personal advantages are clearly wide ranging, there is also evidence to suggest that on medical terms, the mother's blood pressure can drop between 10 and 15 minutes after entering the water.
Like with most variations on the standard hospital birth there are several safety implications to take into account when thinking about this type of birth, most notably the temperature and depth of the water being used. The temperature should be, of course be adjusted to the mothers comfort, but should rest somewhere between 32º C and 36º C during delivery, and up to between 36º C and 37º C during actually labour. The depth of the water should rest just below the mothers breasts, covering her belly fully, and measured by the mother kneeling and resting back on her heels. Another important factor to monitor is the mothers temperature, which should be checked regularly alongside the upkeep of her fluids to prevent dehydration and overheating.
While for most the option of a water birth is very inviting, there are several reasons why for some it simply isnt suitable; for instance, if you expecting more than one baby, if baby is in a breech position or if you have had a previous caesarean section.
Water births can offer relief, comfort and privacy, and are clearly a popular choice for the above reasons. Deciding on the best choice for your birthing experience can be difficult, however your midwife and doctor should be able to provide you with the advice and information you need to help you decide what is right for you. Its an important decision ,and in order to make your birth as comfortable and smooth as possible its best to address the implications thoroughly when making your birth plan.
Author : Elizabeth Stansfield
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