In submerged or underwater birth, the delivery of the child occurs while the mother is submerged in water. Many seem to be opting for this means of child birth, which has led to it gaining popularity and increased acceptability. In this method both the mother and the new born seem to be benefited. Though, at certain times this method can pose threat to the new born in the form of aspiration and water inhalation.
This revolutionary method of child birth owes its origin to the obstetrician Igor, who did comprehensive research on the advantages and dangers. He successfully propagated this natural method in his delivery center at Pithiviers with countless women safely and easily giving birth by this aquatic technique.
This method of birth is quite favorable for the child since the stressful exercise the child goes through during his passage through the birth canal is significantly eased as when the process takes place under water which is tepid, the transition of the baby from the birth canal to the outside world is smooth. The child feels the water as if he is swimming in his mother’s womb.
The mother seems to be benefited as the pain threshold accompanied with labour and delivery are effectually reduced by underwater birth, a form of Hydrotherapy. Low Backache which many women complain during and after delivery is especially decreased in this method. Women experienced definite relief from this method in pain, function, affect, joint mobility, and strength especially in women in older age bracket.
Women perceived decreased perception of pain with no evidence in regards to association of poor neonatal outcome. Submergence in water has an instant soothing effect facilitating maternal physiological responses, lowering pain, increased blood flow which helps release essential hormones. This method also helps widen the maternal pelvic muscles and helps create gravitational pull, thus initiating ease in delivery, reduced wear and tear of maternal tissue, reduced maternal blood pressure and consequent decreased blood loss.
With no proved benefits to the new born, there are chances of water acting as a source of infection, which can be eliminated with maintenance of utmost standards of hygiene in these birthing tubs. With adequate research, women with beyond 5cm dilatation are only allowed in the birthing tubs, with reason being that if placed before that phase, the water with its soothing nature, may slow down the intensity of uterine contractions.
With so many positive aspects to this birthing technique, the final choice should be left to the mother with all the pros and cons taken into consideration.