The Advantages & Disadvantages of a Water Birth

The Advantages & Disadvantages of a Water Birth

An increasing number of women are choosing to spend at least some of their labour immersed in water. For some, this means a few hours in the bath at the start of their labour, and for others it means delivering their babies in a birthing pool. Birthing pools are now a common sight in birthing centres in the UK, and some women even choose to hire birthing pools for use at home. Water births are less common in the US, though many women still choose this option when planning a home birth.

If you are currently writing your birth plan, you may be considering water birth as an option. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages or water births:

The advantages:

  • The warm water can provide relief from the discomfort of labour, and may even be used instead of medical pain relief
  • It doesn’t prevent the use of other medicines, you would still be able to use certain forms of pain relief in the pool. Speak to your healthcare provider to find out more
  • The water can have a calming effect, allowing you to relax during labour which can help labour to progress
  • The water can support your weight, meaning you may find yourself free from the aches and pains of late pregnancy
  • The water can support your weight, leaving you better able to change position and stay upright
  • The pool around you can help you to feel more private and protected. Your healthcare provider will still be able to reach you if needed, though the barrier may help you to feel more in control during labour
  • The calming effect of the warm water can help to lower blood pressure
  • Giving birth in water is thought to reduce the risk of vaginal tearing

The disadvantages:

  • There are some forms of pain relief that are not compatible with the pool, so you may need to abandon the birthing pool if you want to have one of those pain relief options
  • If you get into the pool before labour is underway, there are concerns that you could slow down the onset of labour
  • Birthing pools are not available in all birthing units, you will need to check with your healthcare provider whether you will be able to have one on the day
  • If you are planning a homebirth, you will need to hire a pool yourself which you will need to budget for
  • Not all women experience the pain relieving benefits of water, some simply feel disappointed when they get into the pool

Are you considering a water birth?

Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.