5 Myths About Water Births

Pain

Myth #5: A water birth must be much more painful than a bed birth.

Harper says: The majority of women who use water in labor report that the water reduces their pain by more than half. Some even report feeling only the pressure and not the pain. One of the most common myths is that the water will take all the pain away. It is undeniably the best non-narcotic pain management available, but for some women, the water has little or no effect on their perception of pain. That's because labor happens between the ears, not the legs. When women get into the deep water of a birth pool, not just a shallow bathtub, there is a chemical and hormonal response that adjusts the level of the hormone oxytocin, which pumps from the brain and helps regulate the intensity of the contractions. So, as the body becomes buoyant in the deep water and more oxytocin is released, more pain-inhibiting endorphins flood the mother's brain, putting her more quickly into an altered state of consciousness and allowing her body to do the work that it needs to do. A bonus: Water causes the perineum to become more relaxed, which can reduce the severity of tearing. Ultimately, labor during a water birth can be much less painful for moms-to-be.

Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.

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