During labour, many women find that having a warm bath, or even shower, is a wonderful pain reliever.
A bath at home can be fine up to a point, but many women also find that they need to move around a lot more as the labour gets more intense. This is where a proper birthing pool can come in handy. You can either buy your own (portable pools can be bought for as little as $230 and can be re-used as a playpen and a paddling pool) for use at home or in the hospital; hire one; or, if your hospital has one installed in the birthing suite, you can use that one.
Here are some reasons why you might consider a water birth, as well as some things to be aware of.
pros of having a water baby:
Immersion in water is a good form of labour pain relief and reduces the need for narcotics during labour.
An increased sense of privacy.
A feeling of safety and enclosure.
The water’s weightlessness and buoyancy mean it’s easier to change positions and float freely.
Your LMC should have the necessary monitoring equipment for a waterbirth, but being in a pool can also mean ascertaining the real necessity of some monitoring, and a result, there may be less intervention for you.
Makes it easier to rest and float in between contractions.
Helps to ease the trauma of birth for baby, providing a gentle transition stage from womb to room.
Baby can be born safely in the water, providing she remains fully submerged during the birth and there are no medical problems that would make a water birth unsuitable. Your LMC will advise you.
After baby has been brought gently to the surface and taken her first breaths, she can remain in the water, submerged to her shoulders, to keep warm and to facilitate bonding, providing there is no medical reason why not.
cons of having a water baby:
You cannot labour in water if you have had any form of narcotic pain relief (i.e., pethidine, epidural).
You cannot labour in water if you are not well.
You cannot labour in water if you have a breech presentation.
There can be difficulty with electronic monitoring. If your LMC doesn’t have water-resistant transducers, and your baby needs continuous electronic monitoring, then you will need to get out of the water.
Overheating is one potential complication: you may have to get out of the water if your temperature rises more than 1° above your baseline temperature.
Beware of dehydration: monitor fluid intake and bear in mind that fluid loss occurs even though you are in the water, especially in the warmer temperature of the pool.
Blood loss: this is harder to gauge in the water, but your LMC can monitor other vital signs or even take water samples from the pool to assess any blood loss.
It’s recommended that you are in established labour (generally accepted as 5cms dilated) before entering the pool. Any earlier and there is a chance that contractions might slow right down.
You will have to get out of the water if the birth of the placenta needs to be actively managed, if you are bleeding excessively, or require suturing.
Preparing for baby (water baby or otherwise)
Choosing the antenatal class that’s right for you is very important. Here are some things to consider:
- is the standard of education satisfactory? (For example, how well trained are the educators?)
- what is the philosophy of the organisation holding the class and are you comfortable with it?
- is there any ongoing support available after the birth should you want or need it?
- what type of class is it? (For example, some might be for first-time mums or mums who have had other babies; some might have an exercise/yoga or baby massage class after the birth; others might offer a postnatal class with the same educator and other couples who have done the antenatal class,
to provide a sense of continuity and shared experiences.)
- is the timing of the class right for you and your partner? (For example, some classes are held in the weekends, and this might be better timing for working couples, than mid-week when you’re both tired.)
- is the location of the class convenient for you? (For example, consider that if it’s a hassle to get to and you’re feeling tired, will you really still want to drive all that way?)
- is the cost within your budget?
Hey baby, did you know …?
How best to encourage physical development and movement for 3- to 6-month-olds
- Repetitive movement on the floor (forwards or backwards) stimulates the neurons in the brain to interconnect.
- Vision cannot be developed alone, but only does so in close relationship with other senses, so make sure your infant not only sees an object, but also hears, feels and tastes it.
- Leave your infant’s feet bare whenever possible. The sensations through the feet match up and work with the eyes to develop balance.
- Stimulating the inner ear (called vestibular stimulation) is vital for balance. Activities such as rocking, moving side-to-side and bobbing up and down are great for this.
- Most importantly, when an infant is touched with warmth and care, the brain is flooded with hormones that enables the brain to form more connections.