Practically every maternity unit in the developed world has got water birth facilities
for women who desire this. In the UK, every obstetric unit provides this service
today. The majority of women who become pregnant will have heard of it and those
who seek alternative labour and delivery methods take interest in this, one of the
truly different methods.
Water birth is meant to offer an alternative to the drug-based pain relief methods.
It is also supposed to offer a possibility of a less stressful labour, in allowing
more freedom of movement and changing position, because of the buoyancy of the body
in water. Moreover, the water birth units in hospitals are set up in such a way as
to create as near to a home atmosphere as possible. It is actually possible to hire
the pool and have the labour and delivery taking place in your actual home, provided
the safety conditions (as we shall see) are met.
All in all, water birth is a very attractive option for some pregnant women. However,
it is crucial that any enthusiasm for the pool is tempered with a healthy dose of
realism. The water will not give the same degree of pain relief as an epidural, for
one. It is quite possible that a mother who has opted for the pool may find labour
pains so stressful that she needs to leave the pool to get more effective pain relief.
If this happens (and it does happen), she should not feel that nature has let her
down. We are all different. In addition, even when she is happy with the experience,
other labour complications may develop which may lead the midwife to advise abandoning
As in all areas of pregnancy, any strategy should be approached with an open mind.
More often than not, tunnel vision about pregnancy, labour and delivery leads to