Water birth and the Nigerian Woman

Water birth in Nigeria

Though there are not known medical professional or facilities to handle this birthing method in Nigeria, water birth is becoming increasingly popular among elite Nigerian women. Access to water facilities and health professionals as at now are only found in advanced countries in Europe and America. You may as well take a trip to these countries if you want to have the water birth experience.

Please read the benefits and risks of water delivery as culled from AmericanPregnancy.Org.

Water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub of warm water. Some women prefer to labour in the water and get out in delivery. Other women choose to stay in the water for delivery as well. The theory behind water birth is that since the baby has already been in the amniotic fluid sac for nine months, birth in a similar environment is gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother.

Midwives, birthing centres, and a growing number(not all) of obstetricians believe that reducing the stress of labour will reduce fetal complications. Water birth should always occur under the supervision of a trained health professional.

Benefits of water birth

Benefits to the mother:

  • Warm water is soothing, comforting, and relaxing.
  • In the later stages of labour, the water has been shown to increase the woman’s energy.
  • The effect of buoyancy lessens a mother’s body weight, allowing free movement and new positioning.
  • Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and improved blood circulation resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, less pain for the mother, and more oxygen for the baby.
  • Immersion in water often helps lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety.
  • Water reduces stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins which helps to inhibit pain.
  • The water lubricates the perineum minimizing the need for episiotomy.
  • Birthing in water mentally relaxes the woman and reduces fears and anxiety.

Benefits to the baby:

  • Provides an environment similar to the amniotic sac.
  • Eases the stress of birth, thus increasing reassurance and sense of security.

The risks of water birth to mother and baby.

Though water birth has grown in popularity over the past decades, there has been very little research regarding the risks of water birth. Some studies in Europe have shown similar perinatal mortality rates between water births and conventional delivery.

According to an article published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, there might be a theoretical risk of water embolism which occurs when water enters the mother’s blood stream. Though the British Medical Journal is 95 percent confident in the safety of water birthing, they see a possible risk of water aspiration.

If the baby is experiencing stress in the birth canal or if the umbilical cord becomes kinked or twisted, the baby might gasp for air with the possibility of aspirating water.

This would be a rare occurrence because babies do not normally inhale until they are exposed to air. They continue to receive oxygen through the umbilical cord until they start to breath on their own or until the cord is cut. The final potential risk is that the umbilical cord could snap as the the baby is brought to the surface of water. This can be prevented by carefully lifting up the baby to the mother’s chest.

The following situations are not ideal/safe for water birth

Do not try water birthing if:

  • you have genital herpes
  • your baby is not positioned head down-breech pregnacy.
  • you have twin pregnancy
  • you baby is preterm- not nine months old.
  • you have pre-emclampsia- hypertension in pregnancy
  • you have a bleeding disorder
  • there is severe meconium.

Cost of water birth

As we don’t have the facilities and water birthing professionals in Nigeria, I can’t really estimate the cost. However, water delivery is not cheap abroad. Hospitals whose policies permits water birth abroad do not even have the water birth tub. You can rent the water tub online for $350, which is equivalent to 1.2million naira in Nigerian currency! You also have to pay for their professional services. In summary, you will pay up to 5million naira abroad to have a water birth.

READ ALSO: Cost of comestic Surgery in Nigeria

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