I often reflect back on Felix’s birth as it was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. After a pretty difficult birth with Dexter, I spent months agonising about what the second birth would bring and whether I’d get the water birth of my dreams. There are so many reasons to choose a water birth and I’m so glad I got this experience with my second born.
The first sign of labour for me was a bloody show the night before Felix was born. Fifteen hours later at 3pm I started contracting and after a couple of calls to the hospital at 7pm and 9pm, I arrived at triage at 9.20pm where the midwife confirmed I was 5cm. The birthing pool was run and I got into the water at 10pm. I started pushing at around 10.40pm and after three pushes, Felix was born in the water at 10.57pm. A wonderfully quick labour and delivery.
Although getting a water birth didn’t work out for me first time, that doesn’t mean it has to be the same for you. I know loads of Mums who had a water birth first time around and many who have had them multiple times. Are you thinking about choosing a water birth to deliver your baby? Then read on for 5 reasons why I think water births are the best.
The water acts as pain relief
Now I’m not saying you’re not going to feel any pain – my husband will tell you that a few minutes before I started pushing I was BEGGING to get out of the water so I could have drugs, only to be told I was transitioning, quickly – but the water can feel very soothing during those intense contractions. Whether it’s the heat, the floating in the water or your body remembering that it too once floated in your mother’s amniotic sac, I don’t know, but being in the birthing pool reduced my pain significantly.
It can help lower blood pressure
The pain of contractions and the worry of giving birth can increase your blood pressure substantially. My blood pressure has always been low, but on admission to labour ward it was higher than it’s ever been. The birthing pool room is such a calming and relaxing environment that your fears and panic melt away and with it your blood pressure drops. Labour is so much easier if you are relaxed, so this can only be a good thing.
Less risk of severe tears
The evidence tells us that you have as much chance of a first or second degree tear whether you give birth in the water or on land, but you are less likely to experience a third or fourth degree tear. Severe tears can have a lasting impact on Mum who may have trouble with continence, prolapse and future sex life.
I experienced a second degree tear with both my boys and although it didn’t hurt at the time – well, not any more than the pain I was already in – the stitching up afterwards was a killer. My first birth on land, the tear took an awfully long time to heal, but second time around in the water, my perineum felt pretty much back to normal after a couple of week. Coincidence?
The water supports your weight
Buoyancy can help with uterine contractions encouraging blood flow and better oxygenation of the uterus and with it the water also supports your weight. Being in a birthing pool feels like you are floating and being surrounded by water feels so good. When it comes time to deliver your baby you can use the edges of the birthing pool to support you as well while you give the biggest pushes of your life.
It’s so peaceful
The birthing pool room has low lighting, gentle music playing in the background and is so, so peaceful. It’s important when you choose a drug free birth to have no distractions and to be able to focus all your energy on getting through each contraction which is bringing you closer to having your baby. Being in such a gentle and calming environment is key to having the relaxing birth of your dreams.
Although there are some disadvantages and risks to having a water birth, for most healthy women who are birthing a baby who is full term, a water birth is the perfect choice. Although you are unable to take pethadine or have an epidural while you’re in the water, you can have as much gas and air (entenox) as you like which definitely helps with the pain.
If I had my time again, I’d definitely choose to have another water birth, but thankfully we have now completed our family and even though I have survived two drug free births, I am not in any rush to do it ever again!