For many women, especially first-time mothers who may be a little anxious about the birth experience, a hospital water birth could be the perfect solution.
There are now a number of clinics that support water births. This is great news for all those moms-to-be who would love a natural birth, have heard about the pain relief of water births, and want to be guided by an expert midwife, but need the assurance of medical assistance in case there is a birth emergency.
You could ask your GP if they know where you could have a water birth. It's also a good idea to ask pregnant women and mothers, especially if you'd like to hear about other people's experiences with water birth. Women are usually pretty good at sharing this sort of information, so you're bound to get lots of useful feedback and suggestions.
Ante-natal classes can be a good source of information and guidance. When you choose your ante-natal course, ask if they discuss water birth in the classes, or are prepared to do so.
Planning for a hospital water birth
Preparing and planning for a water birth in a medical centre is fairly straightforward and you'll receive help from your caregiver, who is usually a midwife. When choosing a caregiver, ask them if they support water birth - i. e. do they have the equipment, experience, knowledge and attitude to guide you through your water birth?
If you've already chosen a caregiver, ask them if the medical centre you're booked into has a birth pool or tub. You should also ask them:
How many women use the pool?
Will there always been a midwife present who has expertise?
Have there been any poor outcomes at this facility during or following a birth?
Do you need to book the birth pool?
What happens if someone else is using it when you need it?
If there is a chance you won’t have access to it, could you or your midwife bring in one to use?
Some midwives have their own birthing pools, and you can also hire them.
Water Birth Advantages and Disadvantages
Water birth has its heroes and critics. But having the right information will help you make an informed decision. Here are some advantages:
Being in water is an excellent way to reduce the pain that you might feel during labour.
Many women feel that being in water gives them an extra dimension of privacy and give them a feeling of control.
The buoyant properties of water means it can make getting into your most comfortable birth position much quicker and easier.
It normally aids relaxation, which can help reduce stress and anxieties that a prospective mother might be feeling.
The atmosphere is more relaxed than a usual birth, which means you have more time to go through the various stages of birth without feeling pressure.
Disadvantages of having a water birth
It may slow down the labour process so much that it actually stalls.
You may get muscle cramps, especially if the bath is too small.
If you have a complication and start to bleed into the water, doctors may not be able to measure how much blood you have lost and this can cause issues.
There may be rare but clinically significant risks for the baby born under water. These include respiratory problems, cord rupture with haemorrhage, and infections.
Whatever style you choose to deliver your baby, just remember the choice is yours. Don't be bullied by well-meaning friends and family. Research the situation and come to a decision that suits you and your immediate family.