here are many benefits to using water in labour and birth. Warm water induces a state of relaxation, reducing the production of stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins (nature’s own pain killers). Warm water also stimulates touch and temperature nerve fibres in the skin, blocking impulses from the pain fibres to the brain (the gate control theory of pain). The labouring mother can adopt comfortable positions easily, because of the buoyancy of the water. The counter pressure of the water allows a more gentle delivery of the baby’s head.
Recent medical studies conclude that in low risk women, a waterbirth is as safe as a normal vaginal delivery. Other benefits shown in these studies are a reduction in the length of first & second stages of labour (particularly in first time mothers), and a reduction of pain relief requirements. A world authority on fetal and neonatal breathing, British physiologist Paul Johnson, states that there are normal, physiological mechanisms that inhibit an infant breathing under water immediately after birth. If the infant has an intact umbilical cord, has not shown signs of stress during the labour and birth process and is delivered into a warm liquid similar to his or her body temperature.
Midwifery clients are mothers with healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies and are therefore good candidates for a waterbirth. For further information on waterbirth, you can contact the midwives at Birth Partnership.
Waterbirth in hospital is limited by number of tubs available.