Does waterbirth reduce medical intervention?

This is a very good question.  Generally speaking, yes, labouring and birthing in the water does reduce intervention.  This happens a few ways:

  1. Water provides great pain relief, and many women who labour in the bath find that they do not need any form of medical pain relief.  In this way, the intervention (medical pain relief) is avoided, and also the side effects and complications that can result from medical pain relief.
  2. Waterbirth often means that a woman's perineum remains intact.  Therefore the woman would not require any stitches after the birth.
  3. Waterbirth often means that the labour is shorter.  This is because when a woman is supported in the water, she can adopt and change positions more easily, and this can help the baby to move through the pelvis more efficiently.  This means it is less likely that the woman will need any assistance to birth her baby.

In my practice, about half of my clients give birth in the water, and nearly all of them use water in some form during labour, such as the shower or the bath.  But go to your labour with an open mind: some women are very sure they want a water birth when they are pregnant, and in labour it just doesn't feel right.  Have some other options up your sleeve just in case a water birth doesn't feel right for you at the time.

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