Water births involve a woman giving birth inside a birthing pool. It's believed that sitting in warm water aids in the birthing process because it relieves the pain of labour and reduces chances of tearing. A midwife must be present during a water birth so that the baby's heartbeat can be monitored with a hand-held device. Despite the benefits of a water birth, there are disadvantages to consider, as well.
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A water birth usually takes place in a birthing pool at a clinic or hospital, or a rented birthing tub at home. In both instances, a midwife is the supervisor during the birth. If a problem arises, a woman must be transported to a hospital immediately. Although they are trained in delivering babies, midwives aren't always equipped to handle a breach or distressed baby. To avoid complications, a doctor will advise against a water birth if the mother has diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease. Mothers with transmittable diseases like herpes should not have a water birth, either.
Risks to Baby
Water birth advocates believe that a water birth is a smoother transition for the baby, but the process also presents health risks to the baby. Although birthing pools are supposed to be cleaned according to local infection control guidelines, there is still a chance that microorganisms can contaminate the water and cause the baby waterborne infections. There is also a chance of the baby choking on water, but this usually only happens if the mother raises out of the water as the baby is coming out and goes back into the water.
Risks to Mother
It's important for the mother's health to be monitored closely by a midwife during labour and delivery. Once the baby is delivered, the placenta soon follows. Once the placenta comes out, the mother must move out of the water. The midwife needs to be able to monitor the mother's blood loss. If she loses too much blood and the midwife is not aware, major problems could arise.
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