The World of Pregnancy

How Does A Baby Breathe During Water Birth?

Have you ever wondered how does a baby breathe during water birth until he gets in contact with the air? Well, the process is rather interesting!

How Does A Baby Breathe During Water Birth

Inhibitory Factors Preventing Water Inhalation

There are several factors that prevent the inhalation of water by the baby when he was born. These inhibitory factors are normally present in all newborns. Inside the uterus, the baby is oxygenated by the umbilical cord through the placenta, but he exercises a future breathing of air through the intercostals muscles and the diaphragm in a rhythmic and regular way even from the week 10 of gestation.

The fluids present in the lungs are produced in the lungs as well, chemically speaking, and are similar to gastric fluids. These fluids are typically swallowed by the fetus. A very small part of the amniotic liquid is absorbed. With 24 to 48 hours before labor, the fetus passes through a significant increase of prostaglandins E2 in the placenta, which determines slowing or stopping the breathing movements of the fetus. From the moment the movements of the muscles and diaphragm were suspended, it`s noticed an increase of blood flow in the vital organs, including the brain.

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In a biophysical profile, it can be noticed a decrease in fetal respiratory movement, just the same as you would normally notice the fetus move these muscles during pregnancy. When the baby is born and the level of prostaglandins is still high, the baby`s muscles which help in breathing simply don`t work, therefore the first inhibitory reaction occurs.

The second inhibitory reaction is the fact that babies are born while confronting with acute hypoxia and lack of oxygen. This is a reaction that forms in the birth process. Hypoxia leads to apnea, affects breathing and makes the process of swallowing more difficult. If the fetus has went through a lack of severe and prolonged oxygen, it`s possible to start breathing as soon as he was born and, therefore, they may be found in the situation of inhaling water in their lungs. If the baby encounters issues during labor, there`ll be variations of the heart rhythm, the result being a prolonged bradycardia and, that`s why the doctor may ask the mother to get out of the water before giving birth. – Visit this web page!

Another factor considered by many experts as being inhibitory and which prevents the baby to initiate the breathing process while he`s still in the water is the difference of temperature. Due to the fact that the water`s temperature is almost similar to the one of the mother`s body, the situation in which the baby would detect a change is prevented. However, this information needs to be reexamined as the number of birth in oceans is very high, both presently and in the past. The temperature of the oceans` waters aren`t so high as the temperature of a mother`s body, still, babies who were born in such conditions were declared healthy. Although the water`s temperature was low, this didn`t stimulated the baby to breath while still being divided in the water.

Another factor that lots of people don`t take into consideration, although it`s crucial for the entire process of water birth and problems of suctioning, is the fact that the water is a hypotonic solution, and the fluids that are found in the baby`s lungs are hypertonic. Therefore, even if the water passes along the larynx, it cannot reach the lungs because the hypertonic solutions are dense and prevent hypotonic solutions reaching their presence or function with them.

The last essential inhibitory factor is known as the “diving reflex,” which gravitates around the larynx. All the surface of the larynx is covered with chemical receptors and taste buds. The larynx has 5 times more taste buds than the number of those that can be found on the surface of the tongue. Thus, when a solution interacts with the larynx and passes beyond it, the taste buds start to “guess” what substance is, and the gloton close automatically for the solution to be swallowed, not inhaled. Nature has designed babies with this autonomous reflex, present in the case of breastfeeding, and persists until around 6 years old, when it mysteriously disappears. The newborn is very “smart” and can detect what substance is in his throat. According to what the “diving reflex” claims, the baby will swallow and breathe differently when he`s fed with cow`s milk than when he`s fed with breast milk.

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All the above factors interact and prevent the baby born in water to breathe until he isn`t raised above the water.

What Initiates the Baby`s Breathing?

So, what initiates the baby`s breathing? As soon as the newborn senses a change of environment, the transition from water to air, there are a series of chemicals and a series of hormonal and physical reactions, all these being the results of the breathing process. Babies born in the water are slow in initiating this type of reactions, because their entire body is exposed to air at the same time and not as it happens in the traditional birth, when first only the head or legs come in contact with the air. Medical staffs assisting the water birth say that the only difference is that the baby has a more pinkish color for a longer period of time, than in regular birth, but this isn`t a reason of concern. Also, in these conditions, it was observed that to babies are given the APGAR score when they reach to 1 minute and 30 seconds, and not only 1 minute.

For the child, there are several things that produce themselves simultaneously all of the sudden. The derivations from the heart are closed; the fetal blood circulation transforms in the newborn`s circulation, and for the first time, oxygen in the lungs is experienced, and the umbilical cord is cut, which leads to the closure of the umbilical arteries. Medical schools teach students for years how the first breath is dependent on the pressure from the birth canal and the reflex opening of the compressed chest, creating a vacuum. This last action doesn`t have any influence on the newborn`s breathing. The baby born in the water is protected by all the inhibitory mechanisms outlined above.

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The liquids that are found in the pulmonary alveoli are automatically pushed by the pulmonary pressure of the circulation in the vascular system. This leads to an increase in the newborn`s blood volume with around 20%. The rest of the fluids are absorbed from the lymphatic system through the interstitial space from the pulmonary tissue. The increase of blood volume is crucial for the health of the newborn. The entire amount of fluids from the lungs is eliminated in around 6 hours.

Statistics Involving Babies Born Through Water Birth

If we take a look at the statistics` analysis related to babies born in the water, we notice how it was shown that these inhibitory factors are more than simple theories. A study performed in the United Kingdom between 1994 and 1996, and published in 1999, has reported 4.032 of water births. The prenatal mortality was of 1,2 out of 1.000 babies, but there wasn`t any death related to the process of water birth. Only 2 babies received special care because they inhaled water.

From 1995 until 1999, it was estimated that the number of cases of water birth worldwide has exceeded 150.000. For now, there isn`t any valid report regarding the infant death due to water inhalation or aspiration. In the first few days after being born in the water, a baby has been reported deceased due to the fact that was born in the water. Still, in this case, the death of the child was related to water aspiration, but asphyxiation because he was left in the water for more than 15 minutes after being born. At some point, the placenta separated from the uterine wall and the flow of oxygen that reached the baby was stopped. When the baby was taken out of the water, he didn`t started to breathe, so he couldn`t be saved. At the autopsy, it was found that the baby didn`t had water in his lungs and that they reason for his death was asphyxiation. – Read more!

This is the reason for which babies need to be taken out of the water during the first few seconds after birth. Some people didn`t agree to let their babies in the water for longer periods of time. The “Children’s Water: A Water Experience in Ostend” movie brought lots of negative remarks, because although the movie`s sequence has only 47 seconds, the viewers thought that the duration was between 1 and 5 minutes.

Taking the Baby Out of the Water Too Suddenly

At the same time, taken a baby out of the water too suddenly can be a traumatic moment or may lead to the umbilical cord to break. This incident has been reported by lots of medical staffs. If the doctor assisting the water birth isn`t careful with the umbilical cord and it breaks or degrades, the possibility for the baby requiring a transfusion is high. The breaking of the umbilical cord can be avoided by taking the baby out of the water slowly and gently. The mothers who want to take the baby out of the water on their own need to be reminded not do it too rapidly.

How to Evaluate the Amount of Blood Lost in the Water?

The inability to evaluate the amount of blood lost in the water has determined some medical staffs to ask the mothers to come out of the water after the baby was born or to not allow the process of birth in the water. After a few births, it`s easier to appreciate the amount of blood that was lost. An essential aspect that could help you find out what is the amount of blood lost after birth is how dark is the water after the birth took place. It can be noticed the skin`s color from the mother`s hips even if she`s still in the water where is also blood? A light placed at the pool`s bottom can help you notice both the amount of blood lost, as well as the meconium eliminated during birth. Also, it will help you notice the floating remnants and get rid of them.

Image courtesy of bellybelly.com
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