Midwives’ experiences with birth in water 

By midwife Jenny Jensen, Zealand (educated as a midwife in 2001.

Jenny Jensen has worked at Rigshospitalet, Gentofte hospital, and Holbaek hospital, as private midwife in Home Birth arrangement of western Zealand, and as a midwife substitute in Greenland, and as a substitute via KinnerupCare).

Benefits of water birth:

  • Pain relief:
    The warm water relaxes the body muscles and this relaxation reduces pain.
  • Birth positions:
    The water helps the woman to maintain a pressing position for a longer time than she could otherwise normally endure.
  • A gentle start for the child:
    For the child, being born in water provides a gentle start. The child is given a bit more time before starting to breathe and Water Babies tend to cry less after birth.
  • Duration and birth in water:
    First of all many pregnant women choose to stay in water during birth because it feels good. The warm water has a relaxing effect is pain relieving, and it also provides more freedom of movement. Often labors tend to be shorter and the contractions become more efficient.
    Some women give birth in the water while others step out of the pool to give birth. Each woman decides what is best for her. Some feel that they get too hot. Others may perhaps feel the need for more solid support for their body or simply wish to stand on their feet. During the entire time the birth takes, the woman can change positions according to her needs.
  • The water helps to a better birthing position:
    Physiologically,  women are originally created to give birth to children in an upright/squatting position. However most women have serious problems when standing or squatting for long periods of time. Therefore, a birth pool is often an ideal solution. The water in the pool helps the woman to find a more ergonomically correct birthing position while at the same time, the warm water has a powerful relaxing effect on the muscles and thus acts as a pain reliever. This relaxation and pain relief often result in a shorter and easier labor.

By the midwives at Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby:

”Warm water is often relaxing and many women benefit from that during labor. The birth pool can be used during the dilation period, during second-stage labor pains, and while the child is being born.

Women who have used birth pools for child birth emphasize the freedom of movement in water as well as the greater feeling of privacy during their labor.”

Aarhus University Hospital, Skejby has been practicing water births since 1996 and approx. 4 % women give birth in water. 3 out of 4 delivery rooms have birth pools.

The latest theories about water birth point to the fact that immersion in body-temperature warm water enhances the production of hormones which stimulate contractions. This means that the uterine muscle will often open faster. It is assumed that the need for pain relieving medicine is reduced and that there are fewer and smaller occurrences of tearing when women stay in the warm water during the course of birth

Immediately after delivery, the midwife will raise the child’s head above water and it will start breathing within the first minute. From nature, newborns have a “diving reflex” so that they do not try to breathe under water

The placenta is normally born within 10 – 20 minutes after the child and this can take place either in the birth pool or in the delivery chair”.