With more parents seeking a gentler way to birth their babies, and hoping for less birth interventions, waterbirths have been on the rise. Warm water immersion can be used as natural pain relief, allowing the mother to labor and deliver in a peaceful, calm environment while being able to move as her body and baby dictate.
And, while some hospitals and care providers don’t allow waterbirths at their facilities, evidence has shown that waterbirths are a safe practice. According to Evidence Based Birth®, evidence shows that babies born in the water have similar health outcomes compared to babies born on land.
In addition to natural pain relief, studies show that waterbirths result in mothers having a lower episiotomy rate, lower rates of third- and fourth-degree tears, and babies having fewer or equal NICU admission rates.
Over 2,500 women completed surveys about their waterbirth experience through Dr. Barbara Harper’s Waterbirth International, which she founded in 1988 after researching water immersion as a gentle birth option for mother and child. The surveyed mothers described their newborn babies as being similar to the birthing experience overall: calm, relaxed, nurtured, protected and in control.
“From the mother’s perspective, using water becomes the best way to enhance the natural process without any evidence of increased risk,” Dr. Harper says in her article Birth, Bath and Beyond. “A calm, relaxed mother is more likely to experience a calm, relaxed baby after birth.”
Where Can You Get It?
While there are countless benefits to mother and baby, the estimated number of U.S. hospitals offering water immersion as an option for both labor and birth is just lower than 10 percent of all maternity care facilities, according to Birth, Bath and Beyond.
Some may say we’re lucky to have three such facilities in our local St. Louis metropolitan area:
HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville, Illinois
Birth and Wellness Center in O’Fallon, Missouri
Gateway Regional Medical Center through Meridian OB/GYN Association in Granite City, Illinois
Additional local facilities including Missouri Baptist, Mercy, Memorial Hospital East, and HSHS St. Elizabeth’s include tubs for labor pain relief, but will transition mothers out of the water for delivery.
Additionally, some CNMs and local CPMs can provide skilled home birth care where a family chooses their birthing options, including birthing in water.
As of November 2016, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) continues to recommend birth occur on land, not in water, but they do acknowledge the maternal benefits of laboring in water and support more research on the subject.
And according to Evidence Based Birth®, waterbirth is considered a reasonable option for low-risk women during childbirth provided they understand the potential benefits and risks.
As a pregnancy, childbirth and newborn parenting education studio, our staff at Momentum is excited to host an info session diving into all of these benefits and risks of waterbirth on Saturday, Feb. 10. Designed for area health care providers as well as birth workers and pregnant families considering waterbirth, this seminar will offer a wealth of knowledge on the subject from experts including:
Shannon Lawton-O’Boyle, LAMAZE certified childbirth educator, Evidence Based Birth® Instructor, and experienced Doula
Dr. Angela Barber, MD, OBGYN, Heartland Womens Healthcare, Family Birth Center, Greenville, Illinois
Susan Lock, CNM, Heartland Womens Healthcare at HSHS Holy Family Birth Center, Greenville, Illinois
Julie Brasel, CNM, Heartland Women’s Health Care at HSHS Holy Family Birth Center, Greenville, Illinois
- Kelly Murray, CNM, Meridian OBGYN, Edwardsville, Illinois
For more information on waterbirth in general, we recommend visiting evidencebasedbirth.com/waterbirth and waterbirth.org. For more information and to register for our upcoming event, please find tickets at our Eventbrite Page or email us at Hello@Momentum-Well.com.