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Choosing a water birth

water birth A warm welcome

SUMMARY

We all instinctively know how soothing and relaxing a warm bath can be. What you may not know is that being in warm water has an actual physical effect on your body, which can be of great help during labour. Learn more about the benefits of a water birth and prepare for the practicalities too.

The benefits of a water birth

The main advantage of being immersed in warm water is that it has a relaxing effect on your muscles. This helps relieve pain and ease tension throughout your body, and can reduce the need for pain-relieving drugs.

Another advantage is the support of the water – it gives you the freedom to experiment with different positions. There’s also less risk of tearing because your tissues will be softer and stretchier.

“Don’t forget to bring a cosy dressing gown in case you need to leave the pool to go to the toilet or something – you can get cold really quickly once you’re out of that warm water.”
Helen, mum to Hamish

The practicalities of a water birth

For it to be effective, you will need to be immersed up to the level of your nipples, with your abdomen under the water, which needs to be kept at a constant body temperature. You can get in and out of the water whenever you want – keep a warm dressing gown handy.

If you’re using a birthing pool in hospital or at home, a midwife will regularly check the baby’s heartbeat using a handheld Doppler.

Although it can be soothing, some women find that the water doesn’t give as much pain relief as they were expecting and need medication to help them cope. So be prepared for a possible change of plans to avoid being too disappointed.

Next Steps

  • If you’re planning a water birth at home, why not ask your midwife to see if your own bathtub may be suitable?
  • If you’re heading to hospital, check whether you need to book a birthing pool in advance.
Last reviewed: 4th February 2016

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