With an increasing number of medical professionals and facilities offering water births as a labor and delivery option, chances are that you have heard of this method and maybe even know someone who has delivered this way.

A water birth, simply put, is when an expectant mother uses a birthing pool or tub filled with warm water for labor and delivery of the baby.  It is touted as a relaxing birthing option that offers moms-to-be an alternative to managing pain.  Whether you are considering a water birth, or just want more information on this method which is gaining in popularity in the United States, consider the following:

Benefits of Water Births:

  • Warm water is relaxing and offers delivering mothers buoyancy and freedom to move about
  • Mothers report less pain and a more positive birthing experience
  • A reduced chance of needing an episiotomy. A comparative study of 2,000 water births by the Clinic for Obstetrics and Gynecology in Switzerland found that episiotomies were performed significantly less in water births than in other methods.  The data showed that episiotomies were performed in only 12.8% of water births, in 27. 7% of the births on the Maia-birthing stool and in 35.4% of the bed births.
  • Reduced need for anesthesia
  • Shortened first stage of labor
  • Eases the stress of birth for baby

Although there is much debate among professionals as to the risks of water births, critics argue that water births have potential risks that traditional deliveries do not.  Case reports of respiratory distress, electrolyte disturbances, infections, a condition in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen, ruptured umbilical cords, and seizures were listed in an article published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2005.  However, a joint statement issued by both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives in the United Kingdom gave support for laboring in water for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies.  One of the reasons for their support of water births is a lack of evidence showing that babies born in water have any higher mortality and morbidity rates than babies born out of water.

A water birth may not be ideal if:

  • you have active herpes or are HIV positive
  • are expected to deliver early
  • are having multiples
  • have preeclampsia
  • have any evidence of infection
  • there are fetal heart rate abnormalities

Are you wondering if a water birth might be the right choice for you?  Schedule an appointment today with Dr. Hessel to discuss all of your questions and concerns.