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Empower Yourself with Water Birth and Water Immersion

While water birth may not be widely practiced in Singapore, incorporating water in various forms during labor can still contribute to a more comfortable and empowering birthing experience. Let me guide you through these tranquil waters, where ancient practices meet modern insights, transforming the birthing experience into a serene and empowering adventure.

Pregnant woman floating in a swimming pool

The therapeutic use of water immersion in the realms of physical and psychological well-being isn't a modern marvel; its roots trace back to ancient civilizations. The Chinese, Egyptians, Japanese, Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans all recognized the healing potential of water. Fast forward to 1995, when the first international water birth conference in London marked a pivotal moment in acknowledging the benefits from water immersion in childbirth.

In the United Kingdom, there's a growing movement promoting water immersion during labor and water birth as a means to empower women. This aligns seamlessly with the overarching initiative to normalize childbirth and reduce unnecessary interventions, supported by evidence from cohort studies.

Once immersed in the water, minutes felt like seconds, and as relaxation enveloped me, the pain became a distant memory.

Newborn after water birth

Allow me to share a personal glimpse into its transformative power here. Two years ago, I gave birth to my daughter in water. Arriving at the hospital, in a moment of panic when I was seating on the bed while the staff prepared the birth pool, I uttered those familiar words: "I want an epidural!" Yet, my husband, a pillar of reassurance, wisely advised me to wait until the pool was ready. Once immersed in the water, minutes felt like seconds, and as relaxation enveloped me, the pain became a distant memory.

The benefits of water immersion during labor and water birth are manifold. Advocates emphasize the greater sense of autonomy and control it offers, providing women with a more natural and positive childbirth experience. The perks extend to easing the transition into motherhood, offering pain relief without relying on medical interventions, and creating an opportunity for partners to witness the miracle of birth.

Pregnant woman having a water birth

The positive effects are not merely anecdotal; studies have shown that laboring in water reduces stress hormones and catecholamines (pain hormone), facilitating the progression of labor by supporting the natural release of oxytocin (wellness and love hormone). Furthermore, the flexibility provided by water immersion allows mothers to explore various positions, potentially leading to a more relaxed and flexed fetal position.

Notably, water births have been linked to a shorter duration of the third stage of labor (placenta birth), reducing the risk of excessive blood. This can be attributed to factors such as hydrostatic pressure in the pool and a potentially easier control of the third stage of labor.

The positive experiences associated with water births can significantly enhance a woman's self-confidence and self-esteem throughout her life.

While some studies reveal a decreased need for obstetric interventions like induction and episiotomy during water births, it's essential to acknowledge that perineal lacerations may be more common in these cases, but studies also show that they are mostly less severe lacerations and fewer important tears.

Long-term follow-up studies have shown that the positive experiences associated with water births can significantly enhance a woman's self-confidence and self-esteem throughout her life.

Pregnant woman floating in a swimming pool

Qualitative studies consistently highlight the myriad benefits women associate with water births, including reduced pain and discomfort, increased satisfaction with the birth experience, and improved outcomes for both mother and baby. The findings underscore water immersion as a safe and effective option for women during labor and delivery, paving the way for a more holistic and empowering childbirth experience.

While water birth may not be a common practice in Singapore, incorporating water during labor can still offer soothing benefits. Here are a few ideas on how using water in labor:

Newborn and mother bonding after water birth
  • Take a bath before going to hospital, relax in early stage of labor by having a tub or pool for soaking can still be beneficial. Submerging in warm water can promote relaxation and reduce tension.

  • A hydrotherapy shower, with adjustable water pressure and temperature, can provide comfort during contractions. The rhythmic flow of water can be calming and help manage pain.

  • A warm water foot soak can be surprisingly relaxing. This can be done in a basin or even a small tub and may help ease tension.

Pregnant woman dipping her feet in a swimming pool

Remember, the key is to tailor the use of water to your comfort and preferences. Discuss these options with your healthcare provider and the birthing facility to ensure they align with your birthing plan.


Sources and References:

- 'Water Immersion during Labor for Pain Relief', Rebecca Dekker, Apr 3, 2018

- 'The Evidence on: Waterbirth', Rebecca Dekker, originally published on July 8, 2014, and updated on February 14, 2024,

- 'Experiences of water immersion during childbirth: a qualitative thematic synthesis', Reviriego-Rodrigo, E., Ibargoyen-Roteta, N., Carreguí-Vilar, S. et al. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 23, 395 (2023)

- 'The effects of immersion in water on labor, birth and newborn and comparison with epidural analgesia and conventional vaginal delivery', J Turk Ger Gynecol Assoc. 2012; 13(1): 45–49. Published online 2012 Mar 1,

- 'Immersion in water during labour and birth', Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018; 2018(5): CD000111. Published online 2018 May 16.


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