In the Philippines, there are only a handful of institutions offering water birth. Though this has not caught up as mainstream, it has definitely piqued the interests of some.
There are reasons why women contemplate birthing by water. Some women see labor and delivery to be very personal. Being in a body of water is as soothing as it is natural. This is one alternative to the usual labor routine.
What is Water Birth? Tracing its History
Water birth is a method of vaginal delivery where the mother delivers her child in a bathtub or pool full of warm water. Water birth is said to have been present even during the ancient times, but the first recorded account of an underwater birth was in 1805, in France.
The warm water was said to increase relaxation of mothers. In the 1960s, the focus of water birth was on improved outcomes of the baby as Russian obstetricians Tjarkovsky and Leboyer delved into the concept.
It was popularized by French obstetrician Michael Odent, who published his experience with 100 waterbirths he performed. The idea is that during the early part of labor, being immersed in water decreases the pain. Currently, water immersion is a birthing option for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies.
What Happens During Water Birth
The woman may opt to have the first stage of labor immersed in water and if she so decides, deliver on the delivery table. Some women may opt to labor and deliver in the water altogether. One may also only go inside the pool or tub when she is to deliver. The options should be thoroughly discussed with the woman.
During labor, vital signs of the mother and fetal heart rate will still be monitored as per standard guidelines. The pelvic examination may also be done underwater if the healthcare provider assessed it to be safe.
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.