When it comes to giving birth, it can be overwhelming for expectant mothers to decide how they wish to give birth. Of course, sometimes labour doesn’t go to plan and circumstances can change, but it is important to weigh up your options.
In recent years, water births have become a popular method amongst mothers to give birth. However, we know that you may be unfamiliar with what it involves, and whether or not it would suit your personal circumstances.
To ease your confusion, we have devised a helpful list of the biggest pros and cons when it comes to having a water birth. Once you have read through them all, you will then be able to make an informed decision on whether or not a water birth is best for you and your baby.
1. Many mothers who have used the water birth method have noted it to be an incredibly relaxing way to carry out their labour. “The main benefits of a water birth relate to the positive birthing experience. In particular, in terms of a woman’s level of comfort and control”, notes Katie Headlam, a midwife at the Fatima Allam Birth Centre. If you are feeling particularly anxious about giving birth, then a water birth might be the best way to ease any stresses that you may have.
2. It has been said that water births allow your body to be much more flexible throughout your labour. The fluidity of the water allows you to move around freely and with less discomfort, than if you were in a hospital bed. Water works in mysterious ways!
3. Lots of women have expressed that when having a water birth, they did not need any gas-and-air to help them through labour. Just like a hot water bottle can help to ease period pain, the warm water from the birthing pool can ease contraction pain naturally, and lessons the need for any gas-and-air. If you want to have as natural of a birth as possible, then a water birth might be the one for you!
4. Many mothers-to-be have reported that their labour was much shorter as a result of having a water birth. Like we mentioned earlier, the gentleness and flexibility of the water allows your contractions to progress more fluidly, which in turn, allows the labour process to continue smoothly. Simple!
1. It is important to note that water births will not suit all mothers, depending on what your personal and medical conditions are. Katherine Hales, a member of the Association of Radical Midwives, explains the kinds of conditions that are unsuitable for a water birth. “If a woman has a condition which puts her at risk of loss of consciousness or seizures, or there are concerns that the baby is compromised or premature”, she lists. Overall, water births are only advised for low-risk pregnancies.
2. When it comes to choosing a water birth, pregnant women need to be prepared for all eventualities. Sometimes, it may be necessary for you to abandon your birthing pool mid-labour, if a complication arises. Another thing to be mindful of is the temperature of the water, and how it needs to be kept at a consistently warm temperature at all times. These changes in circumstances may add unnecessary stress to your labour experience, and so you must weigh up your options.
3. Unfortunately, not all hospitals will be able to offer you the choice to have a water birth. Many hospitals and midwifery units will have birthing pools on hand for you to have a water birth, and might even have some calming effects like mood lighting! However, this is completely dependent on availability in the hospital. It is crucial that you discuss your plan with your midwife, if you are determined on having a water birth.
4. Although water births have become increasingly popular over the last few years, there is still fairly limited research on their benefits and limitations. If you are serious about the idea of choosing a water birth, we would recommend having a discussion with your midwife, doctor and partner about the positives and negatives, and whether or not it will be possible for you.
Regardless of your decision, we hope you have a positive, calming and wonderful birthing experience!