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5 Ways That Water Can Make Birth Brilliant

April 12, 2013
Black and white photo of a hand held open under a running tap over a silver sink

Wat-er Wonderful World – here are five ways you can use water to support pregnancy and birth.

1.    Go swimming in it

Exercise can make you feel better, keep you fit and the buoyancy of water can help if you are feeling more like a whale than normal (I’m sure you look gorgeous).

Plus there might be an exercise class like Aquanatal where you can meet other pregnant Mums.

Having a support network and feeling part of a community are also good for our overall wellbeing, so double-win.

2.    Relax in it

I’ll admit a bias here.  I’m doing some training to be a Watsu® practitioner.  ‘Watsu®’ is ‘Water-Shiatsu’ but it basically means ‘lie in a nice warm pool while someone holds you in their arms and gently floats you about for an hour until you are so relaxed you don’t even know what your name is’.

Stress-busting and excellent for pregnant Mums – sounds like something to start dropping hints about as a potential present… (contact me if you’d like more info.)

3.    Use it for pain relief

There is great evidence that relaxing in warm water during labour reduces perceptions of pain.  You can use a special birthing pool to labour in or if space is tight, hop in the shower.  Some women also choose to give birth in the pool (it’s OK, the baby won’t start breathing until she/he hits the air, so won’t drown).

You can hire birth pools for use at home and many hospitals and birth centres now have pools on site.

For more information on waterbirth, check out Waterbith International’s information pages.

Some women also find that visualising a picture of crashing waves can help during contractions.  Even in the mind, water can still work wonders!

4.    Get your flannel out

A cheap and easy tip for labour?  Buy some low-cost flannels before the day.  Prime your birth companion to dip them in some cold water to put on your forehead or the back of your neck if you suddenly start feeling really hot.  Nice and refreshing (and it will make your partner feel useful).

5.    Drink it!

Obvious, but easy to forget.  Even though some American hospitals still ban women from eating and drinking in labour, the evidence suggests that you need to drink normally.  You wouldn’t run a marathon without a sip of water and giving birth is hard work.

If you are giving birth in a hospital, these can be very hot and stuffy places to be – this alone is dehydrating.  Try taking some bottles of water with you, which you can refill (your birth partner will probably need their own supplies as well).

An advantage of drinking water in labour?  It means you need to wee!  This is great, as not only does it make sure you move every so often to head to the bathroom, it also stops your bladder from becoming full.  Every little bit of space helps to get the baby out.

References and further geekery:

Wellbeing: MIND – Physical_activity

Action For Happines – 10 steps

Waterbirth evidence: Evidence Based Birth’s Waterbirth research sheet

Visualising waves: Byrom, S.  (2011).  Catching Babies: A Midwife’s Tale.  Ebook: Headline Publishing Group.

Morgan, M.  (2005).  Hypnobirthing.  London: Souvenir Press.

Eating and drinking in labour: Cochrane review

NCT roundup

Empty bladder: Gaskin, I. (2002).  Spiritual Midwifery.  Summertown: Book Publishing Company.

Thanks to gagilas for the photo of the tap.

Did you try any of the above suggestions in labour?  Which one worked best?  Please share your experience in the comments below!

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From → Birth, Doula

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