Comparing water birth and natural childbirth requires an understanding of the step by step process involved in each procedure. Technically, a water birth is still considered a natural birthing process since the latter is defined as any birthing process wherein no external factors, such as pain medications, are involved. In both processes, babies are delivered through the cervix in a natural course.
The differences between the traditional natural childbirth and water birth lies in the use of a water bath and the circumstances of its use. Here are a few factors that can help compare and broaden expectant mothers' understanding of these two birthing procedures.
Birthing clinics are the more traditional setting for water bath childbirths. However, with portable tubs becoming more accessible, a home setting may be the other option. In recent years, there have been only a few hospitals that have opened their facilities for this type of procedure.
The use of the water bath is normally limited by practitioners to the time the cervix reaches a predetermined opening size. The expectant mother is then asked to submerge the lower half of her body in a sitting or inclined position in the water tub containing temperature-controlled water to deliver the baby.
A natural childbirth procedure on the other hand, is a typical hospital or birthing clinic procedure involving the use of a delivery table and wherein doctors, nurses or midwives make up the medical support team.
Advocates of water childbirth claim that this birthing procedure offers the mother better pain and stress management. The controlled water temperature can have soothing effects on the mother in labor. The water is also perceived to reduce tearing as it allows the perineum to be more elastic during contractions and when the baby is delivered.
In a water bath, medical attendants often also allow laboring women to move around the tub to ease the pain and aid the delivery. This may be allowed in a natural childbirth in certain birthing clinics that advocate against the use of pain medications, whereas the more typical hospital setting will find the expectant mother lying on her back. Thus, the mother has less liberty to move around during the delivery itself.
Who is Qualified
Not all expectant women who are qualified for a natural childbirth are qualified for a birthing procedure in a water bath. Most clinics would not accept pregnant women who have had a history of excessive bleeding, are expecting multiples or where a full term pregnancy is not expected.
In a similar way to the conventional natural birthing process, a thorough workout and discussion may be advised with the concerned health care providers before an expectant mother is deemed qualified.
Pain management is a common concern for new expectant mothers in both natural and water bath childbirths. Additionally, the use of a water bath and its possible risks for infection to both mother and baby are still chief concerns today.