by Athirah (Malaysia)
Why does the water help prevent an episiotomy during natural childbirth?
An episiotomy is a cut made to a woman's perineum to help the baby be born and prevent tears. In actuality, tears usually heal better and episiotomy can cause problems for women even years after giving birth.
Water birth helps reduce the likelihood that an episiotomy will be performed and it reduces the chance of tearing.
This is because firstly, warm water brings more blood to the tissues, helping them stretch around the baby's head.
Secondly, the water gives an equalizing pressure to the tissue around the birth canal, which offers support and again helps prevent tears.
Water works much like a midwife rubbing oil into a woman's tissues and using warm compresses in that area.
Women in water also many times feel more in control of the pushing stage; they're not being yelled at to push and push only when the urge is natural. They're more likely to give the baby time to stretch their tissues around his/her head.