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Midwives Say More Women Are Asking For Water Births After 'One Born Every Minute Australia'

Did you know having a water birth in hospital was an option for expectant mums? If that answer is no, you're not the only one.

According to Stephanie Bishop, a clinical midwife educator at Westmead Hospital -- where 'One Born Every Minute Australia' was filmed -- requests for hospital-facilitated water births are on the rise.

And she speculates the reason why is simply because women are only just learning this is an option, with the show which is currently airing on Network 10 educating women about the variety of non-pharmacological options they have when it comes to giving birth.

"There has been an increase since the episodes of 'One Born Every Minute' have been shown because women possibly weren't aware that you could have a water birth in hospital," Bishop told 10 daily.

A mum using the bath at Westmead. Image: Supplied

Westmead has seven rooms in their birth unit that have baths in them and have just added two inflatable birth pools to cope with the amount of women requesting to use them.

Aside from giving birth in them, the baths can also be used as a method of pain relief, with Bishop explaining there are a number of women select to use them for this purpose too.

"The benefits for pain relief with water, it relaxes you and you can have that weightless sensation as well. The warmth of the water, it can help make you feel quite safe," Bishop said.

The bath is quite a private place for women to be labouring so they don't feel so open and exposed. As it has the relaxation effect, there is an increase in their oxytocin levels as well.

Bishop explained that the bathrooms being separate from the main birthing suite make them a private space. The dim lighting of the rooms makes it a softer and more homely place for women to labour, with some choosing to also bring in their own battery operated tea lights.

"We do try and make the rooms here as home-like as we can but obviously it's much more clinical than it would be if a woman was having her baby at home," Bishop said.

One of the birthing suites in Westmead which has a water birth facility. Image: Supplied

The option for a water birth is usually introduced antenatally, with Bishop explaining the women who typically have them come to the hospital via the caseload model of midwifery care, where women have a primary midwife assigned to them throughout pregnancy, labour and birth and the postnatal period.

"With the introduction of the caseload model of midwifery care, we're expanding the options that women have for non-pharmacological pain relief in labour so they know they have other options besides just having an epidural," Bishop told 10 daily.

"I think that most mums aren't really aware of the different options that they can use for pain relief in labour and this is changing that."

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Michelle Underwood, a clinical midwife consultant at Westmead Hospital, further noted that women who follow the caseload model of midwifery care have better outcomes and less intervention when compared to a similar group of women who have had hospital lead care.

Yet not just women introduced to the idea in the antental stages end up having a water birth, according to Underwood.

"It is something that we can actually suggest when a woman comes in in labour as well," Underwood told 10 daily.

"You would explain about it as well then but just because you haven't discussed it antenatally it doesn't mean to say you can't do it if you meet the requirements we have around water birth as well."

Some women choose to use the baths just for pain relief. Image: Supplied

However only women having a low-risk pregnancy have the option to have a water birth to ensure safety of both the mother and the baby.

"They need to be a well mum, a well baby and they've had a normally pregnancy," Underwood said, with Bishop adding they also need to be able to get themselves in and out of the bath.

"If the situation did change during the labour and we needed to get them out of the bath, then that's what we'd have to do as well," Bishop said.

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Underwood explained Westmead hospital also use monitors that don't require leads so women can go into the water while still having their baby monitored, if this is deemed necessary.

"They can still go in the water and have a water birth. Just because they are in the bath, it doesn't mean we can't listen to the baby," Underwood said.

We have equipment that we can use, it doesn't stop them from moving around in the water either.

For women having a low-risk pregnancy but are unsure if a water birth is right for them or not, Bishop usually suggests they try it to see if they like it or not.

"Sometimes women come in and want a water birth and they get in the bath and they're not actually comfortable and they don't want to stay there," she told 10 daily.

"Then there are mums who say they don't want a water birth -- maybe they were planning to just use the bath for pain relief -- but they are then so comfortable in there that they don't want to get out."

One Born Every Minute Australia Airs On Tuesdays At 8.30pm, Only On 10 And WIN Network. 

Featured image: Supplied