What is a water birth?
A water birth is when maternal mother has her body submerged in water during the delivery of baby (baby is born underwater). The placenta can then be delivered either in the water or after Mum has got out of the water. Only a few of our hospitals have the facilities to accommodate a water birth however majority of our hospitals allow showers or water immersion during labour. Water needs to be kept between 32-38 degrees
What are the benefits of water birth/labouring in water?
natural pain relief
decreases the likelihood of requiring an epidural
decreases the need for narcotic pain relief
better foetal positioning
less chance of perineal trauma
decreased use of episiotomies
decreased need for an emergent c-section
poised (hands-off) delivery
less chance of newborn requiring NICU (exact statistics are inconclusive due to the fact high risk births are generally declined for water birth)
decreased chance of hypothermia in newborn
What are the potential risks of water birth/labouring in water?
labour may slow down and contractions space out if maternal mother gets into the tub/pool too early
maternal mothers body temperature rising if the water is too hot
maternal mother may develop an infection
baby may develop an infection
baby may aspirate water
change to early development of gut microbiome
if a second person is in the water (during labour and/or delivery) can pass infections to the newborn (for example: herpes simplex virus)
if maternal mother has a bowel movement in the water and unknowingly has a parasite or a gastrointestinal virus, there is a risk the newborn may contract the parasite or virus
umbilical cord snap
If there are complications during or immediately following the birth of baby, staff will assist you out of the tub quickly and safely. If you are having a home birth and complications arise during labour or delivery, you may need to transfer to the hospital for maternal and foetal safety.
What complications would require me to get out of the tub?
long period between delivering the head and the body (body may be stuck)
nuchal cord (cord around baby's neck)
maternal mother losing consciousness
What pregnancy conditions/complications would disqualify me for a water birth (based on the King Edward Memorial criteria guidelines)?
pre-term birth (prior to 37 weeks)
younger than 17
older than 40
if baby passes meconium prior or during labour
BMI score below 18 or over 35
irritable bowel syndrome
drug or alcohol dependence (past or present)
schizophrenia, bipolar or psychosis
mental health requiring medication (subject to obstetricians choice to approve or decline)
skeletal issues (scoliosis ect.)
system/connective tissue issues
IUGR (lower than 10th percentile)
previous foetal death in utero
previous placental abruption
previous postpartum haemorrhage
previous postpartum psychosis
previous 4th degree tear
prior organ transplant
no anatomy ultrasound
no antenatal care before 24 weeks
placenta abruption, previa or accreta
*contact for King Edward Family Birth Centre criteria chart*
Which hospitals offer water birth in Western Australia?
King Edward - Family Birth Centre
Fiona Stanley Hospital
Armadale (subject to trained water birth staff on shift)
Water birth is also an option at home births under the community midwifery program or a private practising midwife.