A water birth is giving birth in warm water. A benefit of a water birth is the relaxing effect of the warm water. In addition, the bath allows changing position more easily. For the baby it is a natural transition from the warm amniotic fluid to the warm bath water. Babies born in the bath are often a lot calmer and tend to cry less. The baby receives oxygen through the umbilical cord and is only stimulated to breathe when his/her head comes into contact with cold air.
Anyone who is ok to give birth at home can also choose to have a water birth. If you have doubts, please talk to us. Some hospitals offer the possibility of a water birth. Water births are possible at all three hospitals in Utrecht. At the Birth House of the Diakonessenhuis there are two birthing pools that you can choose from. You would need to pay for a protective cover; these are priced around €70. (you will receive proof of payment afterwards).
The Antonius Hospital in Utrecht has two rooms with fixed baths, so you can have a water birth there. The WKZ has had a birthing pool since 2020, the use of which costs €85 and payment must be on the day and by (debit) card only. The WKZ also has a bath in a separate room available, but this can only be used during the dilation stage. For the birth itself you would need to go back to the delivery room. The use of this bath is free.
Benefits of a water birth
The warm water has a relaxing effect. This causes your body to produce more endorphins, which are a natural pain reliever. Because women are more relaxed, the dilation stage often progresses faster. Especially when entering the pool around 5-6cm of dilation. You have increased freedom of movement and this is often a positive experience. The warm water will keep your perineum flexible and decreases the chances of tearing.
Disadvantages of a water birth
When you are fully prepared for your water birth it can be really disappointing if it can’t go ahead. If there are complications during the birth, it’s better to get out of the pool. For that reason, a water birth is not always possible if you need to give birth with a medical indication.
Would you like to know more about water births? Then listen to this (Dutch) podcast from Subsense where our colleague Laurie talks about this topic.
Conditions for a safe water birth
- The pool needs to be big enough, if you rent a special birthing pool, this will be the case. Even the smallest one available would be large enough!
- Allow enough space around the pool for the midwife and your partner to walk/sit.
- For a home water birth, check if your flooring is strong enough to support a fully filled pool.
- There must a bed in the same room as the birthing pool.
- The room must have sufficient light and have the ability for both heating and ventilation.
- A wall plug socket should be nearby to connect the draining pump.
A water birth in practice
- If you are choosing a home water birth, we will give you a few pairs of long latex gloves to take home. We can use these during the birth.
- It is recommended to enter the pool once you are approx. 5cm dilated. The benefit from the warm water will be at its best.
- The effect often wears off again after a couple of hours. Step out of the pool for a little bit, use the bathroom or change your position. When you re-enter the pool you will benefit from the warm water again.
- We can try and perform an internal examination in the pool. But sometimes this is unsuccessful and we ask you to get out of the water.
- You can stay in the pool once the baby starts crowning. But if there are complications, the birth may need to continue outside the pool.
- When the placenta is ready to be born, we ask you to leave the pool so that we can monitor the blood loss more closely.
- If your partner would like to join you in the pool, we ask that they wear swimwear.
- A water temperature of 37-38 °C and room temperature of 24°C is found to pleasant by most pregnant women.
Rent or buy a birthing pool
You can also choose to purchase a pool. For example an ‘Ocean Reef’ (this is a standard inflatable pool). Please do not forget the other essentials. Such as a submersible pump, inlet/outlet hose, strainer and a connector for the tap.
Would you like more information about a water birth? Please do not hesitate to contact us; click here.