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Water Birth

Discussion in 'Pregnancy, Birth & parenting Information Centre' started by Lottie, Jul 1, 2007.

  1. Lottie

    Lottie New Member

    There is now quite extensive evidence to suggest that immersion in warm water for the first stage of labour provides extremely good pain relief. Many maternity units in the UK now have birthing pools available, so this may be an option you'd like to consider. However, this will only be possible if you meet certain criteria, which include:

    * no known problems or risk factors;
    * size of baby is compatible with your ability to deliver safely;
    * you must be at least 38 weeks pregnant at time of labour;
    * the baby must be head down;
    * if your waters have broken, there must be no sign of meconium signalling that the baby is in distress;
    * your midwife is satisfied with your baby's heart rate on admission.

    Research has shown that in warm water the cervix dilates at 2.5 cm (1 inch) an hour as opposed to 1 cm (half an inch), so the duration of the first stage is reduced. However, it is more difficult for a midwife to monitor your progress, so there may be occasions when you will be asked to leave the pool. If for any reason your midwife is concerned about you or your baby's safety, you will also be asked to leave the pool. Agreeing to a water birth is dependent on agreement between yourself and your midwife, and you have to understand what is safe and sensible.

    Your choice of pain relief if you are in the water will be limited. Gas and air is fine, but using pethidine, TENS or having an epidural isn't possible.

    If you are considering a water birth in your own home, there are some quite important practical considerations to bear in mind. You will need to hire the pool itself, and for a period of weeks as you won't know exactly when your baby will arrive. You have to be sure that the midwife attending your birth is confident about water birth, familiar with safety guidelines and knows how to manage an emergency should it occur. Water birth pools hold 100 gallons of water, and one gallon weighs about 4.5 kg (10 lb). So if you are planning to have your birth pool in an upstairs bedroom, you had better be sure your floor can take the weight! You also need to check that your domestic water tank holds enough water to fill your birth pool (most domestic tanks hold between 40 and 70 gallons).


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