Performing an amniotomy is not recommended in water as it may be difficult to check if the amniotic fluid is stained with meconium or if it is bloody. A woman may, however, experience a spontaneous rupture of membranes while in the pool. This may only be known to the health care provider on vaginal examination.
During water birth, the baby is born fully submerged in the warm water. Once the baby is born, s/he is gently and immediately brought to the surface. The healthcare provider ensures that the baby’s head remains above the water. The baby’s body can remain in the water to maintain warmth, unless there are conditions wherein the baby is not okay (example: poor cry, limp body, meconium stained, difficulty breathing).
Risks of Water Birth
With the combination of blood, amniotic fluid, and sometimes even feces, there are concerns regarding safety of giving birth while submerged in water. Some rare complications in the newborn are as follows:
- fresh water drowning
- neonatal hyponatremia (low sodium)
- neonatal waterborne infectious disease
- cord rupture with neonatal hemorrhage
- hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
- and even, fetal? death.
There are several studies comparing the outcomes of babies delivered by water birth. One extensive review by Cochrane found no evidence that laboring in water increases the risk of an adverse outcome for women or their newborns.
Although more studies are needed to further understand the impact of water birth in newborns. For mothers, possible? complication includes water embolism. This happens when water enters the woman’s bloodstream causing problems in circulation.
Situation Not Ideal for Water Birth
There are situations wherein the woman has to be counselled about not having water birth if she has any of the following: