Water Birth? Why Not?

Are you considering a water birth? If you are, and you've mentioned it to others, you may have been asked why any woman would choose such a thing. Your friends probably fear the baby might drown or you might suffer some dread complication that can only be managed on land.

Those fears are unwarranted: water is essential to human life, and our bodies and our Earth are composed primarily of water. Our babies float in warm water for the first nine months of their lives. Across the world, women have delivered in water throughout recorded history.

Why Choose Water Birth?
Movement is easy when you labor in water. Often, women who labor in water '- even for long periods in the hospital '- are taken to bed as the moment of birth approaches. Now, you may have the option to deliver in water.

Although water birth is still undergoing scrutiny by care providers and researchers, much of the evidence has demonstrated great benefits. A review of eight trials that included 2,939 women found a statistically significant reduction in the use of epidural anesthesia among women who were immersed in water during the first stage of labor compared with those who were not. Other findings included:

-- No significant difference in the use of a vacuum, forceps or cesarean birth.
-- Significantly less pain among women who used water immersion during the first stage of labor than among those not laboring in water.
-- No significant differences in Apgar scores, neonatal unit admissions or neonatal infection rates.
-- A lower incidence of perineal trauma.
-- A shorter labor.
-- A sense of control.
-- Greater satisfaction with the birth experience.

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