Water births entail
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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 2, 2007
'Water births' entail no risk of death from asphyxiation
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'Water births' entail no risk of death from asphyxiation

'Water birthing' has finally made its foray into India, and what more, not only is it more relieving and painless, but also quite safe; and yes there is no chance of death occurring to the baby due to asphyxiation and drowning.

By Sutirtha Sanyal

New Delhi, May 2 : 'Water birthing' has finally made its foray into India, and what more, not only is it more relieving and painless, but also quite safe; and yes there is no chance of death occurring to the baby due to asphyxiation and drowning.

Violet, the four-day-old baby girl born to a British couple, here in the Capital, will always have the privilege of being the first baby to be born in India in this unique method known as 'water birthing'. Violet was born on Saturday, April 28, at 6: 45 am in the morning.

Dr. Urvashi Sehgal, who facilitated the delivery, said 'water birthing' improved the chances of a normal delivery, without the use of any painkillers or drugs required in the conventional method.

According to her, "water helps in many ways to provide relief from pain in general and offers great benefits to the labouring woman".

Immersion in warm water raises the body temperature and causes the blood vessels to dilate, resulting in increased blood circulation, which ensures more blood and oxygen to reach the labouring uterine muscles.

'Water birthing' also lets the mother manoeuvre her body during the labour process, with the water offsetting the pressure experienced during childbirth. The hydrostatic pressure of water relives the discomforts of contractions and relaxes the body, which in turn stimulates the release of endorphins - the body's 'natural painkillers'.

But precautions need to be taken. The water has to be pure and clean. It should also match the body's temperature, and at least in India, the procedure should be conducted under medical supervision.

"In the west though, 'water birthing' even takes place at home," said Dr. Sehgal.

But for expectant mothers, who are suffering from severe infectious diseases, Dr. Sehgal wouldn't advise them to opt for 'water birthing', as chances of infection being passed on to the child cannot be ruled out.

Dr. Sehgal also clarified a report appearing in a national daily, which said that the procedure had its side-effects in the sense, that if proper care was not taken at the time of the delivery, it could result in the death of the child due to asphyxiation or drowning.

"The placenta is a water filled sac and the baby is coming out of one watery environment into another. The baby is also attached to the mother with the umbilical cord, so it doesn't breathe. Secondly even if the baby swallows water, it will enter the stomach and not the lungs," said Dr. Sehgal.

"Most importantly, the umbilical cord is severed only when the baby is out of the water. So its absolutely safe," she added.

Ms. Charlotte Walter, who had two previous 'water birthing' deliveries in the UK, approached several hospitals in Delhi for her third childbirth.

But none had the facility to perform 'water birthing'. So when she approached Dr. Sehgal at Phoenix Hospital, they were only too happy to oblige.

"We were thinking of this procedure for the last three years, but somehow or the other, things never took off. When Charlotte approached us, we were very happy, and we do hope other expectant mothers will also opt for this method," said Dr. Sehgal.

The method is also not very expensive. Maybe only five percent more than the charges for normal delivery, which can range anything between 18000 to 45000 rupees at a private hospital in Delhi.

"Our hospital has the infrastructure for supervising two 'water birthing' simultaneously. But it's very unlikely that two births will take place at the same time," said Dr. Sehgal.

"A team of paediatricians is always present during childbirth and operation theatres are always on standby to tackle any emergency that might arise during 'water birthing'," added Dr. Deepak Sehgal, CEO of Phoenix Hospital.

Charlotte's husband, who assisted in the delivery and cut the umbilical cord, said he felt a "great sense of participation and bonding with the child".

As of now, Dr. Sehgal and her team are looking forward to more expectant mothers opting for 'water birthing' over the conventional method.

But as she said, the expectant mothers have to voluntarily opt for it.

"Different bodies react differently to water, and the expectant mother must be mentally prepared for the experience. Doctors cannot force this upon her. We can only advise them and if they want, we are always there," added Dr. Urvashi Sehgal.


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