Underwater delivery or simply ’water birth’ is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. It is a safe method for low pain delivery, which takes place in a pool or a tub filled with warm water. Water being a cooling agent helps the mother to relax physically and mentally.
A water birth has multiple benefits for both the mother and the foetus. Dr Rajeev Punjabi of Tulip Women’s Healthcare Centre says, "For a mother, an underwater delivery makes the entire process of giving birth to her child a lot less painful. It reduces duration of labour and also makes the child delivery smooth."
He adds, "Water birth has psychological benefits for the foetus. It reduces ’birth trauma’ in the child." When a child enters the world, it finds itself in a completely different environment and setting. The change from a protective fluid-filled sac to a dry, airy environment can trigger shock or trauma in the child. And as in a underwater delivery the shift is from fluid to fluid, the baby does not experience any trauma. "Rather, a water baby adapts to the environment better," Dr Punjabi informs.
Dr Punjabi asserts that contrary to general belief, water birth is a normal delivery only. The plus point being that in a water birth, chances of a normal delivery are increased.
Water birth is divided into two parts. The first half is called ’hydro-labour’. In this half, warm water is used to reduce labour pain. The actual delivery takes place in the second half called ’hydro-birth’.
Hydro-birth is not recommended to patients having high-risk pregnancies or those who have any kind of complications.
"80 per cent of pregnancies in the world are normal and these mothers can have underwater deliveries," Dr Punjabi says and adds that a water birth is as safe as a conventional delivery.
A water birth reduces the pain of labour by 70 per cent and slowly people are becoming less hesitant towards it. Tulip Women’s Healthcare Centre has the privilege of delivering the first water baby in India. The baby boy, Nishant Prabhudesai, was born in October 2003.