Waterbirth is a popular way to birth a baby. I find that few women will have a waterbirth for one baby and choose a land birth for a subsequent baby, however many women will have a land birth with one baby and then opt for a waterbirth the next time. Occasionally a woman will choose a homebirth specifically so that she can experience a waterbirth, perhaps because her local hospital may not support her in this. Waterbirth is an effective way for a woman to manage the sensations of labour and may lead to a shorter labour.
Waterbirth results in fewer perineal tears because the water has a softening effect on the perineum and because women are better able to assume birthing positions that minimise pressure on the perineum.
Waterbirth helps a woman to be more active in her labour and birth because it helps with a sensation of weightlessness.
Babies who are born in water are often calmer than babies who are born on land. Some don't cry at birth: they are pink and breathing and their cords are pulsating, but they are very calm and simply look around and take in their new surroundings.
Labouring in water has also been shown to lower a woman's blood pressure and assist with dilation of the cervix in a labour that is considered to be "slow".
In my practice, about 50% women birth their babies in water.
Melissa Maimann is an eligible midwife in private practice in Sydney. One of the first eligible midwives in Australia, Melissa offers a range of care options for women. Visit Melissa's website to learn more about her services.