Water births are often touted as being more comforting and less traumatic for the baby. And this, alone, can be a good reason to consider giving birth in the water. However, the baby is not the only one who benefits from water birth. There are also some very distinct benefits for the mother-to-be.
A Shorter Labor
Even women who do not ultimately give birth in the water often spend the first stage of their labor in the water. This is because the water seems to help keep the mother relaxed, which helps this first stage of labor progress more quickly. And while the first stage of labor may not be the most painful, it is a time when the mother tends to be more focused on the pain since birth is still far off and the body is not making too many changes other than the pain. Being able to relax in the water and know you're passing through this painful early stage a bit faster is really nice.
The water tends to keep the vaginal and vulvar tissue more supple, which allows it to stretch more effectively as you labor and then give birth. This leads to a reduced risk of tearing during birth. Even if you do tear, the tear is likely to be less deep and severe than if you were to have given birth outside of the tub. Vaginal massage can also help reduce tearing, and it is easier for your partner or midwife to massage you in the water.
Less Need for Pain Relief
Many women are apprehensive of having any pain relief medications or an epidural during birth. The pain-relieving qualities of the water may make it easier for you to go without these other pain-relieving measures. Your birth won't be pain-free, but you will at least have some measure of natural pain control.
A More Connected Feeling
Although people often focus on the baby during and after birth, labor and birth are a life-changing experience for the mother. It is important that the mother feels connected and positive during labor and delivery. The comforting feel of the water helps encourage this connected feeling. Also, since water births give women more control and allow them to move around in the water, this allows for more connection and positivity.
Water births are not for everyone, but they can be really beneficial for a lot of moms. If you like the idea of the benefits above, talk to your midwife about water birth as an option.