At The Portland Hospital our leading consultants and midwifery team are experienced in welcoming babies into the world via natural, caesarean section, hypnobirthing and water birthing methods.
We asked Portland mum Joanne Robinson and Consultant Obstetrician Mr Donald Gibb to explain the benefits of water births for mums-to-be.
Joanne Robinson delivered her son Harry at The Portland Hospital on 10th August 2013 via a water birth. Here she explains to us why she chose to have a water birth and how it changed her perception of childbirth.
Why I chose my water birth
After having had a very difficult experience of labour when my daughter was born, I could not understand it when other women described childbirth as a euphoric experience. However, when my sister-in-law Rebecca gave birth in water three weeks before my due date and described it as wonderful, I decided to discuss the possibility of having a water birth with my obstetrician, Mr Donald McKenzie Gibb.
When my contractions started two days earlier than expected, I arrived at The Portland Hospital and knew as soon as I got into the water bath that this would be a very different experience from my first labour. Perhaps it was because of the feeling of weightlessness that I was experiencing in the water but I felt surprisingly comfortable during my labour and confident in my ability to manage the pain of my contractions.
After just 45 minutes in the water my son Harry was born without the need for drugs or medication into a very calm environment. As he came up for air I immediately understood how elated a natural water birth can make you feel and would recommend a water birth to anyone.
The Portland expert’s view
Most water births are performed under the care of a midwifery led team but some Consultants also delivery babies in the water. Here Mr Donald Gibb explains what a water birth is and advises how expectant mothers can prepare for this form of delivery.
What is a water birth and how does it differ from other forms of childbirth?
A water birth is when an expectant mother gives birth in a waterpool. Women who choose this mode of delivery tend to enter the water during the later stages of their labour and are immersed up to the level of their breasts. Their baby will then be delivered just under the level of the water surface.
Being immersed in the waterpool during labour can help expectant mothers to relax and may even reduce the need for medicalised pain relief.
Who are water births suitable for? Are there any types of pregnancy that a water birth would not be appropriate for?
If you are experiencing a low-risk pregnancy you may be suitable for a water birth. However, if during labour you experience any higher-risk birthing indicators such as meconium stained amniotic fluid or any changes to the fetal heart rate, you may have to change your birthing options. Water births are also not advisable for women having very large babies. This is a precaution in case there is any difficulty in delivering the baby’s shoulders.
Women who would like to have an epidural during labour would also not be suitable for a water birth.
What are the benefits of a water birth?
Water births are very safe in skilled hands and do generally make the pain of labour more manageable, which is of great benefit to the mother. Also, because water births are relatively natural, babies born in a water bath benefit from being born with no adverse effects of medical intervention and often appear very calm after their birth.
How might an expectant mother prepare for a water birth?
When preparing for a water birth an expectant mother will discuss their chosen delivery options in detail with their midwifery team. They will likely be advised not to get into the birthing pool too early as it is possible that, after a number of hours of labour, the mother-to-be may wish to be out of the water. In an ideal situation the mother would enter the birthing pool within one to two hours of the expected delivery time.
Where can I go for more information?
For more information on water births or to book an appointment with Mr Gibb please contact us via telephone 020 7725 0528 or email email@example.com