Bringing another human being into this world is one of the most beautiful milestones in woman’s life. But the actual childbirth is often associated, and rightly so, with pain.

Giving birth or at least spending part of your labour in water can have a massive impact on the overall childbirth experience. Having experienced water labour myself, I know exactly how beneficial water can be in these crucial moments.

Water birth in the UK or at least water labour is becoming more popular. In 2015, more than 30 {bba43082c5342574fbaac8145d42b23fea8caa24e0a6407cfc56a50334b7d81e} of women had planned to use a birth pool as a form of pain relief during labour (Care Quality Commission). Most of the hospitals in the UK now have birthing pools. So, you don’t have to travel too far like in my country if you want water birth. There are only few water birth facilities in Slovakia. So, the UK is way more ahead when it comes to water birth and water labour.

Are you considering water labour (spending some time during labour in water) or water birth (delivering your baby in water) but not sure whether it’s really for you? What can you expect and how safe it really is?

If you want to hear some first-hand experience, sit tight and let me explain how water labour made my Big day a positive experience.

When water labour is unplanned

Yes, that’s right. I didn’t plan to have a water labour at all.

I have certainly heard that giving birth in the water is less painful but for some unknown reason, I never really considered to have a water labour. On the day, however, I was lucky enough to have a bathtub in my delivery room.

I didn’t think it was unusual until the midwife said there are only three bathtubs in the whole labour ward. As it turned out, water labour made my entire experience a lot more manageable.

In fact, looking back now, I honestly don’t know how I would cope without water.

When I got into my delivery room, I couldn’t find a comfortable position, so I just moved from one place to another. The contractions were definitely getting stronger. One minute I was sitting, the next standing, then jumping on a birth ball. Lying on a bed was off completely, as the pain in that position was worst. How do women give birth lying on a bed? I’ll never know, but fair play to them.

As I struggled to cope with the pain, I was given Entonox, better known as gas and air (you breathe the gas and air in through a mouthpiece) as a pain relief but that didn’t seem to make much of a difference at first. That’s when the midwife suggested a bathtub. I said I don’t have anything to wear and she told me that most women just go in naked. And that’s exactly what I did. All my dignity went out the window, but to be honest, I couldn’t care less in that situation.

So, despite my initial scepticism, I gave it a shot and what a difference it was right away.

I found it very calming and relaxing. I was able to use gas and air in water and it really helped with my breathing as well as the pain. I literally stayed in one position for 3-4 hours, not moved once. I almost felt like in a different world. My body felt very light.

After few hours in the bathtub, the midwife examined me and I was hugely relieved when she told me I don’t have to get out as I got quite comfortable there by now.

I was ready to push, and although I didn’t want to get out, I was a bit worried about actually delivering my baby in the water. My main concern was how is she going to breathe. What if she drowns?

My common sense, or whatever was left at that moment, was also telling me that it can’t be possible if I am allowed to give birth in water and that’s why I didn’t raise my concerns with the midwife. I didn’t want to look stupid by not knowing how water birth works. But when my midwife saw that I struggle to deliver my baby, she suggested I get out and try to pee. Once I was out things progressed pretty quickly. I think it was my subconscious mind, I just couldn’t push one hundred percent while in water.

Baby Is BornIt’s been well over 8 months now since I gave birth to my baby girl and many people around me have heard how great it was spending part of my labour in the bathtub. Yes, it’s still painful, there is no magic wand that will suddenly make your labour pain free. However, you cope with the pain and discomfort much better in water. If I’m lucky enough to have a second baby, I would definitely want to have water labour again.

But this time, I would want to be better prepared. I already know how does it feel but what about things like safety or hospital policy regarding water birth?

I did a bit of a research about water labour and water birth. Here’s what I learned that you should consider before you make your mind up.

Check the facilities in your hospital

As I said before, most hospitals do have the facilities for a water birth, but you still need to check that out, either ask your midwife or the hospital directly.

Even if there are birth pools in your chosen hospital, there is still no guarantee that you will actually be able to have water labour when the time comes. Hospitals have limited number of birth pools, so if there are other women using them, you may be up for some disappointment. So bare that in mind.

It is worth checking hospital practices about using birth pools. There may be an option to bring your own birth pool, so you could hire one.

Another way to ensure a water birth experience is a home water birth where you can also hire a birth pool. So, if you are comfortable giving birth at home, this could be another option.

Hiring birth pools is not as expensive as I thought it might be. The price starts at around £100 and there are different types of birth pools available with different features. So, you need to do a little bit of research here to find the perfect one for you.

No pain killers with water labour

When you decide to have water labour, you can’t have any painkillers apart from gas and air. So, if you know from the beginning you want Epidural, water birth is not for you.

However, I wouldn’t dismiss water just yet. Think of it this way. Water labour already provides some pain relief, so you might not even need any other painkillers. If you decide to go for water labour and you find yourself struggling and wanting more pain relief, you can always change your mind and get out of the pool.

Water birth is safe, or is it?

As I mentioned previously, I would like to have water labour if I have another child and possibly water delivery too. After some research, however, I was surprised to learn that there is a lack of convincing evidence showing that water birth is actually safe.

In fact, in the USA the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend against delivering babies in water, due to potential complications. Some that were mentioned are an infection, water aspiration and umbilical cord rupture and you can read more on that here.

So, you should take that into consideration when deciding about water birth. Make sure you are well informed about the potential risk.

Other things to consider

Water labour is only possible if you have a straightforward pregnancy, so any complications could reduce your chances of having water labour.

The majority of mums who experienced water labour or water birth have had mainly positive things to say about it. Some even said that their babies didn’t even cry when they were born in water. Now, that may well be just a coincidence but it is supposed to be one of the benefits of water birth. Babies can be calmer and the transition from the womb to the outside world can be smoother.

My overall experience and verdict on water labour and water birth

Would I recommend water labour? In a case it’s not obvious from this post, yes, I would definitely recommend water labour.

If you can and have the opportunity, then give it a try. Even though the actual labour pain was still strong in water, it was a lot easier to cope with. When you are in water, your floating body is more comfortable because you don’t feel so heavy and can move around a lot easier. I would definitely recommend water labour as a pain relief to any expectant mum.

While I cannot stress enough the positive impact water labour had on my overall experience, I would still think very carefully about water birth.

As much as I would love to experience it, I will give it a considerable thought when the time comes to make sure I fully understand the benefits and risks involved.

What are your thoughts about water labour and water birth?




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