Water Immersion For Birthing

Position in labor and pushing has been thought to be able to speed things up for mom, so lots of research and engineering design has been devoted to making this happen. In 2004 Gupta and Hofmer published a study looking at being sitting in the 30 degree position vs laying flat on your back to push the baby out, and yes, sitting was better: by 4 minutes...so baby's birth was sped up roughly the amount of time it takes for one extra contraction. Other gynos have looked at other factors such as mom's comfort, the health of the baby, the amount of bleeding after delivery, and again it's confusing. Squatting can bring the baby faster, but in some studies the mom's had more nerve injuries of their pelvic floor because of squatting. So for less stress and strain, delivering in a tub may solve many of those issues. For the term pregnant mom water immersion for laboring and delivery can be done in a variety of positions and venues. In your lap pool when your contractions are just a hint of a cramp, in your tub at home when you are trying to decide if it's really labor, in a whirlpool in the labor suite, in a specially designed tub, in the shower in your labor suite, technically all these are water birthing options. In some studies those who labor immersed in the water have fewer epidurals for pain relief. However, actually accomplishing the birth with the birth canal completely submerged is more difficult for many reasons. In one set studies between 1997 and 2004 water birth complications included babies drowning, blood pressure problems, infections, and cord blood rupture. Water warmed to the body temperature is fairly perfect petri dish for the enteric (bowel) and local hospital bacterial species that could grow rapidly to levels that would be unsafe for a baby. Thus the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has not yet issued a position statement, and the last actual statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2005 actually had fairly ominous wording regarding the risks. So even though you are ready to wade in, the professors of obstetrics aren't really ready to. So talk it over with your provider, there are benefits like less use of epidurals, and that might be reason enough to Wade Right In when the big day comes!


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