Here's why you should also go for a water birth like actress Shveta Salve

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Experts say that there are many benefits of a water birth and more and more Indians today are opting for it

Actress Shveta Salve, who just announced her pregnancy on Instagram, has said that she would be going for a water birth.

“I plan to deliver my baby in Goa, as my parents live there. Maharashtrians follow a tradition — the first child is born in the maternal grandmother’s house. I will opt for a water birth. Goa has many home birth centres, so it will be apt,” she said in an interview last week.

Understanding the concept of a water birth

“Water Birthing is an alternative birthing method where the mother delivers inside a pool of heated water. Water labour meanwhile is a method in which she labours in water but delivers outside," says Dr Shelly Singh, MD (Senior consultant Obstetrics  and Gynaecology) Primus Super-Speciality Hospital in Chanakyapuri, Delhi.

The basic theory is that the baby spends nine months in the amniotic fluid and in this method it is a similar water-based environment that is gentler and less stressful for the baby, she adds.

Dr Shelly lists the steps of a water birth:

  • The mother enters water once she is in active labour.
  • She is constantly monitored using water proof dopplers and monitors by obstetricians or doulas (trained birth professionals) who give her constant medical, emotional and physical support.
  • Once the baby is delivered in water, he/ she is immediately raised out of water before he/ she takes his/ her first breath.
  • The baby doesn't drown, therefore, water births are safe for the baby too.

The benefits of a water birth

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“If you feel strongly that you want to avoid using pain-relieving drugs and medical intervention during your labour, it’s worth considering a water birth. The relaxing effects of warm water can help ease pain and water also supports your body, making it much easier to move about freely. Many women labour in a birthing pool but get out just before the delivery; others give birth in the water. The choice is yours and if you find you don’t like it when Big day comes, the solution is simple: just get out! ,” says Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, Gynaecologist, SCI International Hospital in Delhi

Interestingly, there are many benefits of a water birth and more and more Indians today are opting for it.

  • Allows for greater mobility: Water births give the mother greater mobility and allows a comfortable position during labour, says Dr Singh. Proponents of water birthing say that the body relaxes in water, reducing stress levels and sensory stimulation. This lowers the stress hormones and increases the pain inhibitor endorphins, which are known as the feel good hormones. This reduces the need for drugs and interventions and increases the chances of normal deliveries and reduces chances of C-sections.
  • Helps relieve pain: Women who labour in water are far less likely to use medical pain relief – in one study, only 24 percent of first-time mothers who had water births needed pain-relieving drugs compared to 50 percent of those who didn’t use water, says Dr Gaur.
  • Speeds up labour: Water increases blood flow to the uterus thereby increasing the contractions making labour faster and more efficient, adds Dr Singh. It also reduces chances of vaginal tears and episiotomies, she adds.
  • Reduces risk of tearing: It reduces the risk of tearing, adds Dr Gaur. The water softens the tissues of your perineum (the area between the vagina and anus) making them more supple and able to stretch to accommodate your baby’s head as it passes through. This also means you’re less likely to need an episiotomy.
  • It helps support the mother's weight: There are other significant benefits which can contribute to the well-being of the mother, says Dr Gaur. "The pool itself is a quiet, private environment which helps you feel safe and secure while you labour. It supports your weight and makes it easier for you to stay upright, helping your pelvis to open up so your baby can pass through. The buoyancy of the water also makes it easier to change positions to help you cope with your contractions," she says. .

"You can combine it with other forms of pain relief including gas and air, massage, acupressure and aromatherapy. You won’t be able to use a TENS machine in the water; neither can you pethidine, since this makes you drowsy, or an epidural, as it limits your mobility. However, you can choose to get out of the pool to have these at any time," concludes Dr Gaur.

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