The soothing comfort of warm water is sought by so many of us at the end of a hard day. Or maybe not even a particularly 'hard' day.. we just require the comfort of warm water, the feeling of immersion and the sense of safety and privacy it offers us.
If you watch a labouring woman getting into a birth pool you can clearly see why water births are so popular. The whole body, from the head down, softens....relaxes...releases. There is a long sigh.
Although birthing in water is not considered 'pain-relief' as such, women talk about a sense of comfort and relaxation that comes from being in warm water.
Birthing in water allows a woman to move freely and comfortably. It softens and protects the perineum and makes the woman feel 'held'.
As Milli Hill states wonderfully in The Positive Birth Book 'Perhaps water birth is also less painful because you feel more protected by the 'big dark skirts' of the birth pool. You have more privacy, and you are harder to reach - if anyone wants to touch you or examine you, they have to ask nicely, or get wet, or possibly both'.
The woman can float or sink down. Protected by the waters around her she can be left in peace to labour. She can feel safe. Should she wish she can invite her partner into the water to join her, it is her choice to share the space or not.
Being born in water is safe for your baby. Many clients ask me if they will try to breathe in the water when born? The answer is no. Their throat will stay closed until they are brought up out of the water, they are still getting their oxygen supply via the placenta. For them there has been little change from the warm waters of the amniotic fluid.
When planning a water birth it is important to decide where you wish to give birth.
If birthing at home then you hire the pool with the knowledge that Mrs Smith at number 34 will not be diving in there before you. It will be yours to use when and if you please.
If you are birthing in a hospital in the Midwife Led Unit then you need to find out in advance how many pools your hospital has? How many water births take place there each year? Are they usually fully in use or is there regularly space? Are the midwives all experienced with women giving birth in the birth pool? Will they feel comfortable with you birthing your placenta in the pool, should you wish to do so? Does the hospital have fetal monitoring equipment that can be used in water?
As usual all of the options are there for your choosing. So perhaps a water birth may be the best birth for you? It is definitely worth exploring.
The wonderful image above is courtesy of @bodywise_birthwise on instagram - it’s just perfect isn’t it?