Giving birth

Water birth

Clinical studies support the benefits of labouring in water

By Susan Spicer
Water birth

Whirlpool baths and birthing tubs are becoming more common on maternity wards in many Canadian hospitals and birthing centres. Clinical studies support the benefits of labouring in water, including lower levels of pain medication and epidural use, fewer operative deliveries and less perineal trauma.

Catharine Ruskin, a midwife with the Community Midwives of Toronto, attended her first water birth more than ten years ago. "We have one tub, and it's always booked," says Ruskin

"Water birth is for a labour that is going well," says Ruskin, "since it's more difficult to monitor a woman's progress or handle a difficult presentation in the water." Ruskin also closely monitors the water temperature in a birthing tub. "The water should be warm, not hot, so the baby doesn't become overheated," she explains. And, if babies are actually delivered in the tub, "they should be removed from the water immediately upon delivery so that they can begin to breathe air."

If you would like more information about water labour and birth, the Toronto-based company Birthwaves Canada distributes a range of videos and books, and sells or rents birthing tubs. Birthwaves ships anywhere in Canada, and will also provide information about water-birth facilities across the country. Contact them at. (905) 201-8570, fax at (905) 201-8571, or e-mail.

This article was originally published on Dec 28, 2011

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