Many women are opting to using a birthing pool for their home birth, birth centre or hospital birth. Most people find great comfort and repose with water. Perhaps because we begin our lives surrounded in liquid in the womb, this basic familiarity stays with us throughout our lives.
For thousands of years women have been using water to ease labour and facilitate birth. Wherever there has been even slightly warm water, there have been women bathing in it, using it ritually, and finding great comfort in it, especially in labour.
Soaking in a tub of water to ease labour sounds inviting to most women. If the water is where a woman wants to be and there are no complications, then in the water is where she will feel the most comfortable.
When a woman in labour relaxes in a warm tub, free from gravity’s pull on her body, with sensory stimulation reduced, her body is less likely to secrete stress-related hormones. This allows her body to produce the pain inhibitors ‘endorphins’ that complement labour. Noradrenaline and catecholamines, the hormones that are released during stress, actually raise the blood pressure and can inhibit or slow labour.
- Getting into a birthing pool can provide a sense of privacy and safety, which many women crave during labour
- The majority of women using a birthing pool find that the warm water encouraged and enabled them to relax more
- Relaxing and reducing stress allows a woman’s body to release more of the love hormone oxytocin which stimulates contractions and dilates the opening of the womb
- If a woman in labour becomes less stressed and more relaxed, she will increase the production of endorphins, which are her body’s natural source of pain relief, and reduces the need for other forms of pain relieving drugs
- The buoyancy of the water allows a woman to change position more easily and therefore maintain a good flow of blood through the placenta to her baby
- Women who use a birthing pool for their home birth report higher levels of satisfaction and most would choose to use the pool again
- Your baby may experience a more gentle transition from the womb when delivered into warm water
- Water and warmth are natural pain relief
- If labour is slow or stalled, getting into a birthing pool can get things moving again
References: http://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/waterbirth-birth-in-water#.VEtosfnLf-Q; http://www.enherts-tr.nhs.uk/patient-information/files/downloads/2011/08/waterbirth_birth_maternity.pdf