MANILA - Most expectant moms cannot accurately predict how and when they would be giving birth, but for mothers seeking a calm, relaxed, and medication-free labor, water birth is emerging as an option.
Water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub of warm water, either in a hospital suite labor tub or in a portable pool at home or birthing centers. Coleen Garcia-Crawford, who recently gave birth, picked water birth, as shown in labor photos shared on her Instagram page. Celebrity moms Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio and Kylie Padilla-Abrenica have shared and documented their experiences in the past, and have got Filipino moms wondering if water birth is indeed a good choice.
Pros: All natural and more
According to the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), before water birth was officially introduced in the West in the 1980s by doctors, Japanese women have been using warm labor pools to reduce labor pains, and British midwives also had used warm water to
relieve labor pain. France was the site of the first water birth, which was recorded in 1805.
Why do women consider this type of birthing? For one, “it is gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother,” according to American Pregnancy Association. Since the baby stays in an amniotic fluid sac for 9 months, being born in an environment similar to a fluid sac, like a tub of water, will provide a smooth and calm transition for the baby and the mother.
The International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) said water labor and water birth may provide a smooth, healthy conception for women with low risk of pregnancy and where immersion in water is not a problem. Here are some of the benefits:
- A tub or pool with warm water is soothing, relaxing and pleasant for women in labor and in final stages of birth.
- Water has been shown to increase vitality of women in later stages of labor.
- The water’s buoyancy effect decreases the body weight of a person, allowing for free movement and new positioning during middle and later stages of labor.
- Speeds up labor and decreases pain for mothers
- Promotes positive behaviors of the mother
- Child bonding, such as skin-to-skin contact post-birth
- Conserves energy
Of course, if there are benefits, there are also risks. According to the UK's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there’s a risk that during water birth, amniotic fluid embolism could happen, where the fluid that covers a baby during pregnancy in the uterus — or fetal
material such as fetal cells — enters the bloodstream of the mother. Most likely, amniotic fluid embolism may occur during childbirth or in the immediate postpartum period. This is a rare but serious condition.
Besides amniotic fluid embolism, the baby can inhale water after it feels tension in the birth channel, gasping for air. This would be a rare occurrence as babies usually do not inhale until they are exposed to air, according to APA.
Water birth is not recommended for the following:
- Women who have a painful labor or childbirth, including a previous C-section
- Those who have chronic condition such as hypertension, diabetes or herpes (which is easier to spread in water)
- Those who have risk of pregnancy such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia
- Mothers who have their babies in breech position
- Those whose baby is expected to be delivered significantly earlier than usual
- Mothers who are expecting two or more babies
For moms who are considering water birth, it is best to ask their OB-Gyne if they can go along with the procedure without risk to themselves and their babies.