Both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Royal College of Midwives support laboring in water for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies.
The limited evidence that is available so far indicates that water birth is thought to be safe so long as some simple, sensible guidelines are followed. These guidelines include:
- You must have an experienced healthcare professional to help you through the labor and delivery.
- High standards are kept to ensure the tub is clean and well maintained.
- Proper infection control measures are in place.
- You and your baby are properly monitored while in the tub as required.
- There’s a plan to get you out of the tub as soon your doctor, nurse or midwife says it’s time.
- The water temperature is well regulated, usually between 97 to 100 F or 37° Celsius.
- You drink water during the birth to avoid dehydration.
Is it for everyone?
Most midwives feel that if you want to be an active player in your birth experience and make it a momentous occasion in your life, then you are a great candidate for an active water birth. However, some women feel uncomfortable in the water and might ask to be taken out.
Umm Thaakir, a mother of two, says, “when I did go into labor, I found the water the most comforting of all the pain relief methods I tried beforehand.”
Her labor was quite short, and giving birth to her baby in water is something she considers miraculous. “Because I was so relaxed and calm in the warm water, I could focus all my energy on giving birth. It’s an experience I would recommend to everyone. My son was also serene, calm and did not cry after being born and I suspect it was due to the relaxing nature of being born in water.”
The best gift you can give yourself when pregnant is to educate yourself properly on the options available to you. Giving birth is one of life’s most enriching yet emotionally and physiologically stressful experiences. That is why it is vital to arm yourself with the correct knowledge.
Susan Napierala, author of Water Birth: A Midwife’s Perspective, suggests that water birth offers mother and infant the ideal circumstances for beginning their lives together.
Water can be a medium for communication, an oasis for relaxation, a safe and comfortable therapy or a gift of peace and calm for both mother and baby.