What are the risks of water birth?
Water births are best for low-risk, healthy pregnancies. They are not suitable for women with herpes, which can be transmitted in water, or other medical conditions which can cause complications. Water birth can also be complicated when there are multiple babies involved, so it should only be carried out by an experienced professional. It is also not suitable for premature babies who need special attention.
The risks with water birth that you should be aware of include:
- Breech positioning: Even if your baby was correctly positioned for birth at your last scan, it can flip around anytime. If your baby is in a breech position, you require medical intervention.
- Water inhalation: Normally, a baby does not take its first breath of air until it is born. But sometimes, if the baby is having problems in the birth canal, the baby may inadvertently inhale some water, though this is rare.
- Dirtying the pool: During labour, it’s very common to lose control of your bowel movements. While midwives and nurses are used to this, and will even clean up the debris, you might feel uncomfortable about birthing your child in this water.
- Presence of meconium. Meconium is your baby’s first feces and is black or green in colour. While it can wash off the baby’s face, it’s best to avoid contact by coming out of the water once it’s detected.
- Snapping of umbilical cord. One risk when a baby is born in water is that the umbilical cord can snap when the baby is lifted out of the water. Professionals are usually very good about doing this with care when handling the baby, however.
Where can I have a water birth in Singapore?
So far, the only hospitals that support full water birth, including delivery in water, are the National University Hospital (NUS) and Raffles Hospital. Two other hospitals, Thompson Medical Centre and Mount Alvernia Hospital offer tubs for water labour but do not support water delivery.
You can also choose to have a water birth in the comfort of your home instead of a hospital. However, you should at least have an experienced trained doula or midwife by your side in case of complications.
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