Water Births at Shaare Zedek
Over the past few years, the concept of water-based deliveries have become increasingly popular around the world.  Water births are designed to ease infant delivery by reducing the need for other pain-relief techniques and limiting medical intervention unless where necessary.
Water births are intended for women who have had healthy, complication-free pregnancies.

What is a Water Birth?
Water births take place with the mother located in a large bath or small pool.  The process takes place in the presence of a personal midwife, within a dedicated delivery room that is specially designed for this purpose and highlighting safety and privacy.
For those women who are pre-determined to be a low risk of complications during delivery, a water birth provides a natural environment to embrace this special way to welcome your child into the world.
The determination of whether a mother is appropriate for a water birth will first be made by a midwife and doctor specially trained in this process. 
Our goal is to provide an optimally safe environment for mother and infant and keep medical intervention to a minimum so as to allow the natural process to dictate the birth.
The following conditions must be in place to allow for a water birth:

  1. At present, only a woman’s second (or subsequent) deliveries are considered for water births.

  2. The birth must be of a single fetus with proper head presentation.

  3. The pregnancy must have been without any complications or risks.

  4. The fetus is known to be less than 4.5kg

  5. Healthy fetal monitoring results.

  6. No prior Cesarean Sections for the mother.

If any complications or concerns arise during the course of the delivery, the medical team will of course intervene and transfer the mother to a delivery bed or where necessary for surgical intervention.

Benefits of Water Births During Labor
The warm waters help the mother to relax and remain calm throughout the course of labor and thus makes it easier for her during contractions. When a mother is tense, this often causes contractions to slow down or stop completely and lengthens labor and delivery.  But when a laboring mother is relaxed, the overall delivery can move ahead far more easily and effectively.
During the active birthing process, the water helps limit the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and enhances the release of hormones that help speed up the delivery like Oxcitocin which helps regulate the contractions to be more effective.  The body then releases additional hormones, like endorphins, that help the mother better deal with the contractions and even reduces pain.
Privacy and Personal Control
When a mother enters the warm and soothing waters, she feels in greater control almost in a world of her own defined by a sense of personal security and isolation.  With the lights dimmed and the room quiet, you’ll be able to focus only on your personal needs and truly connect to the birthing process.  The floating sensation also helps ease your overall comfort and move and maneuver more easily with limited physical stress.
Pain Management
The warm waters have been shown to significantly help reduce the pain associated with stronger contractions, and are known to reduce the dependence on external pain management tools and drugs.
Shorter Births
As each contraction is shown to be more effective and the mother is calmer and more in tune with her body, the delivery process generally moves faster than in a delivery bed.
Our overall experience has shown that most mothers who choose a water birth report considerable satisfaction with the process and generally choose this option for subsequent births.


Frequently Asked Questions
Are water births safe?
We certainly understand that you’re worried that your infant might ingest water in their first breath as part of a water birth.  But it’s important to appreciate that a healthy new baby won’t take their first breath until their face, nose and mouth is exposed to air and detects that change in temperature.  An infant born underwater is protected by a sort of “underwater reflex”, where their natural instinct is to keep their breathing channels completely closed and thus prevents any ingestion of water. 
Over the course of the birth, the midwife will constantly be monitoring the infant’s pulse and ensuring that their oxygen levels are normal- just as we would do in a non-water birth.  There is no medical research or evidence that shows that children born under water have any related respiratory or breathing issues as compared to those born in more traditional methods.

When will I get in the water?
Our recommendation is to enter the water once the delivery has advanced to a more active stage when the contractions are regular, more intense, occurring between every three and four minutes and where dilation has reached four to five centimeters and with near complete effacement.  If the mother enters the water too early, it is known that the contractions could slow down considerably or even stop altogether.  If that happens, the mother could enjoy that brief respite to relax, or get out of the water and wait for the process to return on its own.  The midwife will of course be available to help determine what’s the best course of action. 
What is the ideal water temperature?
The recommendation is that the water shouldn’t exceed between 32 and 37 degrees Celsius.  Warmer water could increase body temperature of both mother and infant which needs to be avoided.  The midwife will regularly monitor the water temperature alongside continuous monitoring of the fetal heartbeat.
What happens after delivery?
After the infant is delivered and prior to delivery of the placenta, the mother will be asked to exit the water.  This is because the water will get overly mixed with blood which could contaminate it and present a danger for the mother. 
We welcome you to come and speak with our trained team of water-birth midwives.
You’re invited to ask any other questions and to see firsthand why more and more couples are choosing to embrace the world of water-births here at Shaare Zedek.
Wishing you a safe, healthy and rewarding birthing experience.