What is Waterbirth?

The waterbirth process is the use of a tub or pool of warm water during labor and/or birth. It promotes a smoother transition for
baby from the amniotic sac by being delivered into a similar environment. The process seems to be gentler for the baby and less stressful for mom.

Benefits of Waterbirth

Soaking or floating in a pool of warm water seems to help the body relax much easier because water creates a sense of weightlessness. The muscles work less during labor and there is little pressure on the body to cause discomfort. This can lead to more relaxation and a sense of reduced pain with contractions. Some researchers feel that being in water improves blood flow to all parts of the body, especially the uterus. They have observed that a laboring woman’s blood pressure may lower if she soaks in a tub of warm water. They also feel that improved blood flow may protect the baby against fetal stress. Because being more relaxed and comfortable lowers stress hormones caused by labor pain, some researchers have found that labor may be somewhat shorter if warm water immersion is used. However, there has not been any great difference found in the length of labor. Being in a tub of water that is heated to a normal body temperature can help a laboring woman maintain a stable body temperature. While research suggested that fewer episiotomies are performed in women who use warm water baths for birth, it is not certain that there really are fewer tears compared with delivering in a bed. Most women who have used warm water baths for labor or birth report very positive feelings about it. They report less pain, a greater sense of relaxation, and a greater sense of control.

Waterbirth at SGCMH

If you are considering a waterbirth, first talk to your health care provider. Only women who meet the qualifications for the process will be able to have a waterbirth. Some medical concerns would not permit the use of the water tub. For a waterbirth your pregnancy must be vaginal with a controlled blood pressure, and show no health related risks to the baby.

Any medical or obstetrical factors that put you and your baby at high risk would preclude birth in the tub. These decisions are made by your healthcare team to provide the most safe and enjoyable experience for you and your baby. At Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH) the nursing staff of the Women’s Health and Childbirth Center will meet with you to discuss your plans for a waterbirth and you will also be able to tour the facility and waterbirth suite. Once all the details are final you are required to sign a waterbirth consent.

How to arrange your Waterbirth?

The very first thing to do is talk to your health care provider. Only women who meet the criteria will be able to have a waterbirth.

BE Prepared!
1. Read everything you can on waterbirth.
2. Discuss your concerns with your health care provider.
3. Meet with the OB staff for discussion and sign the special waterbirth permit.
4. Laboring women are welcome to use a sports bra or tank top in the tub
5. Partners who wish to be in the tub with the mother need to bring a swimsuit or trunks to wear.

For more information about Waterbirth:

Contact the SGCMH Women’s Health and Childbirth Center at 573-883-7706.

Another great resource is the organization Waterbirth International. The organization is a project of the Global Maternal/Child Health Association and has sponsored several international conferences on waterbirth. They are a great resource for books and videos. Visit their web site.

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