Water is the driving force of all nature.
- Leonardo da Vinci
You might think that water birth is a relatively new practice, and that may be somewhat true for the western world, but pregnant individuals have been immersing themselves in water during labor and birth throughout all of history. Midwives focus largely on your gentle transition into parenthood and the baby’s gentle transition from life in the womb to life outside of the womb, or earthside. Not only is laboring and/or birthing in water a pain-reducing tool that can help laboring individuals, but it can facilitate a very calm, comfortable and more peaceful journey for baby from the womb until they are in their parents arms - - the birth pool environment is very similar to the warmth and comfort of the womb.
Midwives and doctors alike have noted the benefits of water birth to the laboring person and their baby. In fact, research supports it’s safety and benefits. However, water birth is not offered as a labor or birthing option under the care of many providers. Midwives facilitate and safeguard a laboring person’s desire to birth how and where they want - - this includes laboring and/or birthing in water. Midwives offer water birth in home birth settings as well as in some birthing centers.
The benefits of water birth seem to compound and enhance the labor and birth experience. Some of our favorite benefits include:
• Warm water acts as a method of pain relief because the water is soothing, comforting and relaxing. Being immersed in water is a stress reducer, which can allow the birthing person’s body to more easily flow the right hormones throughout the body and serve as pain-inhibitors.
• Buoyancy allows for free movement and change of positioning with ease. The sensation of floating may help contractions feel less intense and help the birthing person connect with their baby. The similarities of each person - parent and child - floating in safe warm water is a beautiful sentiment that can be used for strength during pressure waves (contractions).
• A body that is relaxed physically and mentally will have a greater ability to focus on the birth process and will more efficiently allow the body to open and baby to be born.
• The birth pool provides the birthing person with a great sense of privacy. In the water you have the ability to be free of clothing, but yet still feel concealed. This privacy can reduce fears, anxiety and reduce inhibitions.
• Birthing in water may allow the tissues of the perineum to be more relaxed which can reduce the incidence of tearing and the need for repair.