By Dr.Ameet Dhurandhar – Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, M.D, D.G.O, Surya Hospitals, Mumbai 

Expectant mothers dream for natural drug-free, pain-free, and relaxed delivery. Water Birthing offers a natural and relaxed option for childbirth. In India, this natural and traditional method is now gaining popularity with the increase in awareness through various medium and availability of institutionalised services provided by experienced and highly skilled Obstetricians, Gynaecologists and trained staff.

During the labour, an expectant mother sits in a pool of warm water and the baby is delivered underwater.

Benefits for Mothers:

Water birthing has both physiological and psychological benefits.

Enhanced Relaxation: If a mother is relaxed during the birthing process, her body will produce ‘feel good’ hormones known as endorphins, making this process pain and stress free, this causes the release of oxytocin,prostaglandins and all the cascade of hormones required for Natural labour. The relaxed mother also maximizes placental oxygen perfusion. However, if the mother is stressed, her body shuts down by excessively producing hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, or catecholamines (fight or flight reaction), and this will break the rhythmic release of the labouring hormones,thus increasing medical intervention.

Shorter labour: The water helps the muscles to relax, and gives a soothing feeling which decreases the pain, thus opening the body and therefore making it easier for the patient to labour faster. Relaxed muscles and body increases the cervical dilatation rate and effacement thereby quickens contractions and the baby can move down swiftly through the birth canal.

Buoyancy: Apart from soothing the mother during contractions, it also provides freedom of movement allowing for an upright posture that enables descent of the foetal head. Muscles and ligaments are relaxed under warm calming water which creates free movement and increases the pelvic diameters. However, this relaxing environment needs to be greatly supported and monitored by skilled and trained staff. 

Reduces Blood Pressure: The relaxing effect of water on a mother’s body reduces anxiety that in turn aids in creating a tranquil atmosphere, and this is advantageous to hypertensive mothers.

Decreases Perineal Tear: The chance of a perineal tear is considerably reduced during Water Birth. The ability for the mother to assume any comfortable position helps to increase elasticity on the perineal muscles thereby reducing the odds of tearing. Even if a tear occurs, it is usually a small one.

Benefits for Babies:

  • Enhanced Fetal Oxygenation
  • Gentle Transition
  • Less Birth trauma
  • Relaxed and peacefully environment
  • Reduced sensory stimuli
  • Skin to Skin contact

Benefits of Swimming

  • Improved physical growth
  • Improved cognitive function such as memory and attention.

Precautions

Be Prepared: Natural Gentle birthing is not easy, it’s like running the Marathon (one cannot get up and start running) one has to be prepared physically and mentally.

WATER TEMPERATURE

It should be regulated at body temperature of approximately 34 and 38°C. If the temperature is too low, it can cause hypothermia to the baby and stimulate breathing underwater. If it’s high, it can lead to maternal dehydration and fetal distress.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Water birth is primarily for low risk pregnancies which account to 80% of the pregnant women. But definitely not for the following:

  • If there is fetal or maternal distress
  • Hypo or hyperthermia
  • Pregnancy is under 37 weeks (preterm labour)
  • Ante partum hemorrhage
  • Have any medical conditions, such as GDM, PIH, thrombophiliasetc.
  • If any medical intervention is required. (Pitocin, epiduraletc.)
  • Have a history of previous shoulder dystocia

Unlike in the west, this concept is yet growing in India, however, many hospitals perform water births and recommend it as well. A few health institutions such as Surya Hospitals, Mumbai, with trained and experienced professionals, excel in water birthing. With more awareness about water birthing and the availability of speciality services such as Surya Hospitals, the procedure is getting popular. Given the benefits, water birthing is cost-effective and the cost ranges between Rs 80, 000 to Rs 1,50,000 and varies from hospital to hospital. It is a fact that in India, there exists a huge gap in demand and supply of healthcare services. Water birthing requires proper attention from the entire team of health professionals. Hence, there is a shortage of such facilities in the country as every patient needs specialised care. During the entire process, the doctor’s dedicated attention is needed and sometimes labour hours can be stretched for long. Surya Hospitals has overcome these challenges and emerged as a leader.

Corporate Comm India (CCI Newswire)

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