When people first hear about water birth, they often have questions. Five of the most common are:
- How does the baby breathe under water?
- Will the mother get an infection from the water?
- How are emergencies handled in the water?
- Do you deliver the placenta in the water?
- If I'm in labor, when can I get into the water?
How does the baby breathe under water?
Understanding how a newborn takes his first breath helps to dispel any fears concerning the safety of water birth. While the child is in utero, it has no contact with the atmosphere and no need to breathe. The fetus's lungs do not yet work as they will once it is born and begins to breathe air. A baby in the womb "breathes" by receiving oxygenated blood from its mother via the placenta and the cord.
It is not until the newborn infant's skin makes contact with the air that the complex physiological process that results in the first breath begins. During those first seconds after birth, when the newborn is under the water, he cannot possibly begin to breathe and continues to receive oxygen from his mother via the umbilical cord.
Will the mother get an infection from the water?
In the 1950s, women were told that it was unsafe to take a bath toward the end of pregnancy because the cervix was opening and the uterus could be infected by germs in the water. This edict against bathing is still printed in some childbirth books read by women today. If a woman's