“In the bathtub it was wonderful. Warm water, scented lamp with relaxing oil. It was quite calm, the atmosphere around and pink muted. The beating of the contractions worked well. In the weightlessness of the water, I could stretch my legs and move the pelvis up and down. “Can you imagine having your baby in the bathtub?” “Why yes, why not?”… The midwife observed to me, “Why don’t you hang onto the cloth over the tub during the next contraction?”. And plop – my water was broken. Nice. Contractions, breathing. Moaning. Pause. During the water birth, I didn’t think about painkillers… The only thing that was important was the concentration, the trance-like state. The cervix was now completely open, and a different kind of pain began that I thought would kill me if I didn’t yell it out loud.”
Women have always birthed their children in the water, and it is still a common practice among many primitive peoples today.
Pregnant women of many jungle peoples in the Amazon, for example, cling to mangroves while giving birth to their babies in the river. In Germany, the first water baby was born in 1982 in the Vinzenz Pallotti Hospital in Bensberg near Cologne – the expectant mother felt so comfortable in the warm bathtub that she refused to leave it for the birth. The experiment went smoothly despite skepticism on the part of the obstetricians, and water births are now routine in many hospitals. The warm water relaxes, relieves labor pain, and eases the fear of childbirth. Almost 80 percent of women who have given birth in water would also like to experience their next birth in this way. In contrast, only 40 percent of women would repeat a bed birth. Today, we also know that water births are just as safe as land births – provided they are properly monitored by obstetricians. There is also no need to fear infections: Compared to stool and bed births, water babies had the fewest infections.
Hold Your Breath, Baby: The Breathing Reflex
In water, a newborn is completely in its element. After all, it has spent nine months in amniotic fluid. To prevent this from reaching the lungs, unborn babies already have an ingenious reflex, the diving or breathing protection reflex: Fine receptors in the skin and in the nasopharynx register precisely when the baby’s face is submerged. They then immediately send a signal to the larynx to close the trachea. In a water birth, babies are brought out of the water after about 15 seconds. When air blows around the baby’s face, the skin receptors give the signal to breathe and the newborn takes its first breath.
Four Questions About Water Birth
Compared to land births, water births are faster, require only half the number of perineal incisions, blood loss and pain medication use are significantly less, and women go home sooner. The percentage of outpatient births is also higher than for women who do not deliver in water.
With So Many Benefits, Why Don’t All Women Deliver In Water?
It’s important not to think that water birth is for every woman. If a woman is comfortable and comfortable in the bathtub, she can stay there. However, if a woman actually wants to get out and only stays in the water because she wants the benefits of water birth, it doesn’t work because it is more of a head birth than a water birth. Waterbirth is not the last word in obstetrics. It is just one of many ways to have a baby.
For Whom Is Water Birth Suitable?
Water births should not be performed in problematic births. If the mother and the child are well and a spontaneous birth is expected, water birth can be attended.
How Does The Pregnant Woman Medically care For In Water?
Exactly the same as for a land birth. Together with the industry, we have developed a CTG (cardiotocograph) that can be used to monitor the baby’s heartbeat wirelessly in the water.
What About The Risks For The Child?
Water birth is certainly not dangerous – provided the child is doing well. I survey about 15,000 water births in German-speaking countries: To date, no child has been harmed by water birth.