A birthing mother who wants to give birth in water has to be healthy and her pregnancy without complications. If the obstetrician estimates that the childbirth is not progressing as it should, the birthing mother is transferred to a bed. In addition to regular examinations, HIV infection and hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection examinations are also required for this method of childbirth on account of a higher possibility of infection for the midwife and the child.
The procedure of admission into hospital is the same as for other birthing mothers. However, it is recommended that expectant parents attend the school for parents and become familiar with the procedure of water labour. It is the expectant mother’s decision about when she will go into the water and out of it. Nevertheless, the contractions have to be regular and the childbirth in process. Another decision she must make is whether she wants to be in the birth tub until the baby starts being pushed out or whether she also wants to give birth in water.
The temperature of water in the birth tub is 36–37 °C, and it also contains some salt. The managing of the water birth is more demanding than that of a regular birth, so constant monitoring of the foetus is necessary, which is done by cardiotocography. After the delivery, the new-born baby is slowly lifted out of the water (head and face first) and placed on its mother’s breasts where it takes its first breath. If the new-born baby does not lack oxygen (is not hypoxic), the breathing reflex is not triggered when it comes in contact with the air as well as at the sudden change of temperature. This also prevents absorption of water which might be an issue at this method giving birth. To avoid the danger of the mother having an embolism with water, she delivers the placenta in a bed.
Warm water, massage that alleviates painful contractions, especially in the lower back, the high density of the air and the desired atmosphere have an analgesic effect which reduces the use of additional analgesics. The birthing mother and the soft delivery channels relax, which results in reduced need for episiotomy and avoids tearing. Despite some precautions and hesitation, our experiences with water birth method in obstetrics are good. In comparison to classic childbirth, there are no differences in the duration of both methods or complications for mothers or new-borns.
If you want to have a water birth, you can come to talk to a midwife and to visit the water-birth room a month before the estimated delivery date. Prior appointment is not necessary.