Expectant mothers now have the opportunity to labour and give birth in the tranquil environment of Mediclinic City Hospital’s new water birth pool. We understand that the more relaxed, secure and in control you feel, and the more able you are to move about freely, the more likely it is that you will have a fulfilling birthing experience
For some women, a birthing pool can offer all these benefits. Please talk to our maternity manager and your own obstetrician if you are interested in using water for your labour and/or birth.
LABOURING IN WATER
There are many benefits to labouring and giving birth in water. These include:
- Feelings of being in control
- A more enjoyable labour experience
- Less painful contractions
- Shorter labour
- A more gentle birth for the baby
- Less need for analgesia (pain relief) such as pethidine or epidurals. Less need for drugs that accelerate labour such as oxytocin
- Water helps to relax the pelvic floor muscles and soften the perineum (the skin between the vagina and the anus) thus reducing the risk of tearing
- The relaxing effect of warm water helps produce endorphins – promoting natural pain relief. A birthing pool supports 75% of a labouring woman’s weight, allowing the woman to feel buoyant and comfortable. Mobility is easier, thus conserving a woman’s energy
- Breastfeeding can be encouraged immediately
CAN I GIVE BIRTH IN WATER?
Research suggests that for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies and at full term (after 37 weeks gestation), using the water for labour and birth is as safe as for land birth. Healthy babies who cope well with labour can be born in the pool will not breathe until they are brought to the surface into air. If your midwife or doctor has concerns that your baby is compromised during labour, you will be advised not to birth in the pool.
RISKS OF LABOURING IN WATER
For healthy women with an uncomplicated term pregnancy, complications are rare. A concern for some people is that the baby will breathe whilst still under the water – this is highly unlikely as there are many mechanisms that prevent this from happening, one of which is the drop in temperature that normally occurs when a baby is born. The water temperature is carefully monitored throughout labour to prevent this drop. The water temperature should be between 35°C-37°C in the first stage of labour and at 37°C for the birth of your baby. The midwife will check the temperature every 30 minutes before the birth of your baby. Ensuring the baby’s head is totally submerged during delivery also prevents the breathing reflex from starting until the head is clear of the water.
IS WATERBIRTH SUITABLE FOR ME?
Generally, if you are healthy and between 37 and 42 weeks pregnant, have experienced a normal pregnancy with no serious medical conditions or complications and your previous labours have been normal, you may use water for labour and/or birth. Labour should also start spontaneously. Your midwife and obstetrician will advise you.
At Mediclinic City Hospital, it is important that you have the full support of the obstetrician that has been caring for you. Your attending obstetrician must also be credentialled with Mediclinic City Hospital to conduct water births and be available during the birthing of your baby.
WHEN SHOULD I GO INTO THE WATER?
Possibly the best time to enter the pool is when your labour is established. However, you may choose to enter at any time you feel the need.
If you need a pain relieving injection or an epidural you will need to leave the pool. If you have previously had a pain relieving injection, four hours should lapse before getting into the pool as the medication can cause you to feel drowsy.
As the birth approaches, you may choose to birth in the pool, although some women prefer to give birth to their baby out of the water. Your baby will be allowed to birth with no one touching you and you will be supported with verbal guidance from your midwife or doctor. Your doctor will raise your baby gently to the surface, head first. Your baby will then start to breathe; once baby has been born the baby’s head must not go back in to the water.
Babies born in water tend to have their eyes open and be very calm. Sometimes, the baby may take a short time to become pink. This is because the birth has been very gentle and this is normal, so do be alarmed. Baby will be placed skin to skin on your chest, which facilitates breastfeeding, among other benefits. If the baby requires any intervention, the baby will be placed on a radiant heater in the birthing suite and attended to by a paediatrician.
THE THIRD STAGE (PLACENTA)
We will ask you to leave the pool to deliver your placenta. You will be assisted by the midwife and the doctor. Please ask your midwife or doctor for more information.
Please note that, as there is only one active water birth room, the birth pool may not always be available if it is in use or trained staff are not available at the time.