Benefits of Water Birth

black and white photo of baby being born in water

Having a home water birth is becoming increasingly popular as mothers continue to discover it’s benefits. It is safe for mums and offers special benefits to the baby which may not be achieved anywhere else. Giving birth is a unique experience for every woman, and each birth will be different. A natural birth can be at home or in hospital – it’s all about personal choice. Most midwifes will happily support you should you wish to have a home water birth. A relaxing home water birth is an ideal way for your baby to start its new life.

Dr Julia Sanders, a consultant midwife, and a member of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which drew up guidelines in June 2006, said “There is a perception that water is just nice, but it is the most effective form of pain relief barring an epidural in labour."

NICE states:

“Birthing pools are second only to epidurals in alleviating pain.”

“All expectant mothers should be offered a water birth for the safest form of pain relief”

“I would like to see more women using water and fewer women using the types of pain relief that are less effective.”‘

Benefits of Using a Birthing Pool

Easing of pain

The University of Southampton, once conducted an experiment with 99 participating mothers. 49 mothers delivered in a birthing pool while 50 went through the traditional medical setting. Two-thirds of the participants who gave birth in the hospital required pain-relieving medication while only half of mothers who used birthing pool needed epidural analgesic for relief. This shows that water has a soothing and relaxing capacity which reduces the occurrence of pain. Another explanation is the production of pain-easing hormones endorphins and oxytocin, which were induced by immersion in water.

Reduced or complete absence of tearing of the perineum

Immersion in the water decreases the pressure against the abdomen and the back, which contributes to decreased damage to the perineum. Moreover, the warm water softens the perineum to increase flexibility. Less tearing means there is very little need for episiotomy or stitching after childbirth. Squatting or kneeling while water birthing also helps in reducing the extent of tearing.