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Choosing a water birth

by Xoli Makabane, midwife
Baby Yum Yum - Choosing a water birth
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I often have women come to my practice who are eager to have a water birth but they have several concerns: What is a water birth? Who can have a water birth and who helps you deliver this way?

How dangerous can it be to my baby?

Water birth is the birth of your baby underwater, which is kept at 37 degrees Celsius to create an environment that is similar to the environment inside the womb. In the same way that water is used to alleviate period pains, it can be used as a means of alleviating the pain or discomfort that’s associated with labour. The buoyancy of water tends to relax your muscles, facilitate better progression of labour and reduce the anxiety related to birthing.

All healthy babies cannot breathe inside their mother. They will take their first breath only once they come into contact with a cold atmosphere, away from the warmth of their mother’s womb. If you are interested in experiencing a water birth, I advise you to discuss this openly in your antenatal classes.

“Water births are not an option for premature deliveries.”

Not all birth plans go according to plan and while you may strive for a water birth, it may not happen that way. We encourage women to use water to help them deal with the niggles of early labour, while the process is still being monitored. However, this is for full-term babies only (you have completed 37 weeks of pregnancy). Water births are not an option for premature deliveries.

Reasons you cannot have a water birth

  • Prematurity
  • The mother is not well, for example, there are signs of a high temperature.
  • The baby is in distress.
  • The mother has a viral infection.
  • The baby has a congenital abnormality.
  • There is evidence of trouble with the baby, for example, concerns about the baby’s heartbeat or the mother’s pulse is persistently high.
  • Moms that are morbidly obese as it is difficult to respond quickly in the case of an emergency.

Is water birth dangerous for my baby?

The answer to that is a resounding no, if conducted by an experienced, medically trained person and all protocols have been observed.

So, go on enjoy and enjoy your choice of birth with peace of mind, provided you have communicated consistently with your healthcare provider.

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