After the Health Ministry announced yesterday that it is prohibiting water births in all private hospitals nationwide, a lot of social media users have voiced their discontent. Most of them think that women should be given the freedom of choice to decide which method of birthing are they more comfortable with.
The Ministry cited “safety concerns” and said that there is no evidence to suggest it is better for both the baby and the mother.
There are allegations that the Health Ministry banned water birthing because it interfered with drug sales, but how true is that? We take a look at some pros and cons of water birthing:
-Women have reported a tremendous amount of pain relief when immersed in water
– More privacy, you stay in the tub as opposed to lying on a hospital bed with legs wide open. You other half can also get into the tub to comfort you.
-You get to wear whatever you want, instead of long, hospital gowns
-Minimal interference by doctors and midwives, and all attention on you.
-Mothers have reported that their babies seem more relaxed when delivered during water birth, some didn’t even cry.
-Shorter length of labor, because the vagina is pointed downwards, so gravity does most of the job for you.
-The baby may choke on the water, experience respiratory problems, or worse, drown.
-Some women have reported that they still felt a lot of pain, and eventually had to take an epidural and resort to normal delivery. Taking epidural when immersed in water is dangerous!
-High risk of infection, because when you push your baby out in the water, there is higher chance that you might have a bowel movement. This is quite a common occurrence in water birthing.
-When the baby is swiftly pulled up upon delivery, it has caused the umbilical cord to snap. It is also dangerous in the case of a short umbilical cord. Patrick Weix, M.D., Ph.D., said that short umbilical cords can tether the fetus underwater or tear, leading to fetal blood loss. Maternal tears can be difficult to assess when underwater, and the mother may experience excessive bleeding.
Water immersion for labor and delivery can be safe or dangerous depending on how skilled is the midwife and and doctors. As much as it works as a natural pain reliever for a more relaxed delivery, we’re afraid the health ministry is right, there is no proven health benefits for the mother. Having said that, it does affect how much the hospital can charge you, since water births require lesser or no drugs at all. In Pantai Hospital, water births costs up to RM 6,000. In Tropicana Medical Centre, it can cost between RM8k to RM 10k, exclusive of epidural. A caesarian starts at RM 10k in most private hospitals.
Just to be safe, you should only choose water birth if you have been examined by a doctor and gotten a confirmation that your pregnancy is low-risk and you will not counter any complication.