Pregnancy

Dangers and Risks of Water Births

Water birth refers to giving birth to the newborn in water, and the idea behind this is  that the baby is used to being surrounded by fluid throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Though it is has many benefits, there are certain risks of water births as well. A delivery can be conducted in a hot tub, bathtub, or even a pool of water. You can have a water delivery in a birthing center, at home, or even in a hospital. During the water birth, you and your baby must be monitored and should have all the medical care that you would have in a hospital. There are some of the risks of water births.

What Are the Risks of Water Births?

The research done on this topic is vast; some of the studies state certain risks, whereas some cite that it is safe. Here are some of the risks related to water deliveries:

  • Rarely, the baby gasps while still in the tub and inhales water. It was earlier believed that babies’ primitive reflex prevented them from breathing in until they were exposed to air. Doctors in New Zealand have reported in the Journal of Pediatrics that, in some cases of water birth, babies breathed in the pool water, which went into lungs. Another risk of breathing in water is that it leads to very low amounts of sodium in the blood. This condition is also called hyponatremia. Though this occurs very rarely it is one of the dangerous risks of water births.
  • There have been cases where the umbilical cord was snapped during a water delivery session. This led to uncontrolled bleeding, and the baby needed a blood transfusion because of heavy bleeding from the umbilical cord.
  • If the water in the pool is contaminated, then there is a high risk for infections. Newborns can catch infections very easily after coming in contact with the contaminated water in the tub or pool.

Who Should Avoid Water Births?

Some women should not have a water birth:

  • Women diagnosed with infection or bleeding problems
  • Pregnancy related complications like toxemia, a bacterial infection in the blood, and preeclampsia
  • Women suffering from herpes
  • Pre-term labor
  • If you are expecting twins or multiples, then ask your doctor whether a water birth is safe or not.
  • The baby may also have his/her first bowel movement, called meconium, in the womb, and special measure must be taken to prevent the baby from ingesting or inhaling even mild meconium in the water.

Preparing for a Water Birth

Talk to your doctor before making the decision to find out whether it is safe for you. You can even check to see which of your local hospitals offer water births. If the local hospital does not have this facility then you may have to choose another hospital or deliver at home with medical help. Talk to a midwife, or other health care professional, who is trained to assist or attend the water birth. Here are some things that you need to keep in mind before a water delivery:

  • You should take care that the water temperature is not more than 100° F. Hospital birthing tubs are typically designed to stay at the right temperature.
  • Make sure that the pool or tub has clean water to avoid infections.
  • Drink lots of water during the delivery to prevent dehydration.
  • When you make your birthing plan, you need to be ready for the complications as well.

These are some of the risks of water birth and tips to keep in mind for a safe and happy delivery.

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