According to a survey by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2017, one in ten women give birth to their babies in a birthing pool, while many more women simply use water as an aid during labour. This is because water births have a number of benefits and can aid expectant mothers by easing pain and discomfort. Here’s how birthing pools can help ease other common labour issues that many women face.
A water birth helps to…
Water immersion can be very effective for pain relief during labour as it helps by increasing the body’s production of endorphins. It can also ease muscular tension and can help you to relax between contractions.
Birthing in water can also be combined with other forms of pain relief including gas and air, massage and acupressure.
Reduce stress and anxiety
The birthing pool is a quiet, private environment that can help you feel safe and secure while in labour. Immersing yourself in warm water helps to keep you feeling comfortable, reducing stress and, in turn, lessening your perception of pain. Many women find this gives them an increased confidence in their ability to give birth.
Floating in warm water can help relieve the feeling of pressure on your back and give a feeling of weightlessness, which helps to improve discomfort. Being in the water enables you to move more readily and freely so you can find the position in which you feel most comfortable. Moving around can also help to progress the labour. Many women find kneeling, squatting or floating on their back or tummy in the water with the use of floats, much more comfortable that laying on a bed.
In many cases your birthing partner can get in the pool with you and help you to find a comfortable positioning.
Reduce the risk of tearing
Depending on your circumstances, such as the position of your baby, you might also be less likely to tear your perineum. This is because the warm water helps to soften the tissue, making it more supple and able to stretch when baby’s head passes through.
A lot of women feel having a water birth provides their baby with a more gentle transition into the world.
Planning a water birth
As you can see, there are a great number of reasons why so many women opt for a water birth. As well as relieving pain and discomfort, birthing pools help to decrease stress and anxiety levels during labour, helping expectant mothers feel confident while birthing their baby.
Most hospitals have water birth facilities, but you can never guarantee that a birthing pool will be available when you need it. That’s why some women choose to hire a birth pool and take it with them to the hospital, or use it at home. Your midwife will have more information and will help you plan your water birth.