A technique that has been around since the 1800s, water birthing is considered the most natural way of delivering a baby.
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of water birthing, which is an up and coming preference among new moms in the West and it’s pacticality in India.
When actress Bruna Abdullah shared her birth story, everyone was touched reading about the magical moment. The actress, who gave birth to her daughter on August 31, shares that it was a water birth with no strong drugs being pushed into her body. A part of her story, which she shared on Instagram, read, “I wanted to deliver my baby on a Saturday, I wanted the labour to be no longer than 4 hours, I wanted to deliver my baby in the pool, and I wanted to do it drug-free! I got all of that! I also asked for it to be pain-free but that wasn’t really what happened!”
A technique that has been around since the 1800s, water birthing is considered the most natural way of delivering a baby. With no pain relief or labour-inducing drug being administered, the process relies on the warmth of the water. Dr Gandhali Deorukhkar Pillai, Consultant Obstetrics Gynecologist at Wockhardt Hospital feels that it’s the comfort of warm water that attracts young mothers to this delivery procedure. “The warm water helps in calming down the mother in labour, and they think the labour pain will be reduced to a certain extent,” she says.
Even celebrities from the West like Gisele Bundchen, Pamela Anderson, and Alyson Hannigan, among others, have opted for water birthing. One of the main reasons pointed out by these women is that they wanted a drug-free delivery. “They feel that the contractions will be more than the natural labour and that if an induced labour fails, it might lead to a C-section,” says Dr Surabhi Siddhartha, a gynaecologist at Motherhood Hospital Kharghar, adding that it’s the most natural birth process, since the baby is going from fluid to fluid. “The baby inside the womb is surrounded by water, so once the delivery is done inside the water pool, the baby is in a similar natural environment,” she explains.
Dr. Ameet Dhurandhar, founder of Water Birth Mumbai, has been practicing water birth since past five years. He explains that a comfortable environment helps women give birth naturally: “If the mother is put in a stress-free environment and in a really relaxing space, the whole body opens up and the good hormones like endorphins and oxytocin kick in. That helps the natural process of labour and contractions, and helps dilatation and the descent of the baby. But if the mother is put in a stressful environment like a hospital, adrenaline kicks in and the body shuts down.”
When Gisele Bundchen delivered her baby boy, she revealed that the delivery was done at her home in the bathtub. But doctors warn that water birthing can be complicated and requires constant medical supervision. “The water that is used has to be very clean and you need a large amount of water that needs constant monitoring. During normal labour in hospitals, if there are two patients in two rooms, we can switch from here to there, so for water birth more you need more manpower. A midwife needs to monitor that person, who is constantly in water, any time the water temperature may rise. Cleanliness is the most important thing so that the baby is not infected with that,” says Dr Surabhi, adding that special waterproof equipment is needed, which will increase the delivery cost.
All doctors are clear on one point: The pregnancy should be absolutely normal, sans any complication, to be able to go through water birth. Even Bruna wrote about the fitness regime she followed to make sure she was in the best shape possible. It read, “I worked out regularly, I ate a very well balanced diet, I meditated and visualised every single detail.” But according to Dr Ameet, it’s not just physical fitness, but psychological strength is also extremely important. “Physical fitness is easy, you can do yoga, pilates, and your pre-natal Lamaze classes. But it’s the mental one that is difficult; you have to have full confidence in yourself because natural labour takes a long time. It takes 12, 15, even 20 hours, so that without any kind of anaesthesia it's not that easy. It's not everyone's cup of tea,” he warns.