Major advances have been made to explore the correlation between landscapes and human health and wellbeing. A particular concern is the features of restorative or therapeutic landscape (Velarde at al., 2007). Identifying the features that should be applied to landscape design is a major research challenge. Among those of interest are water features, which promote restorative effects, such as relaxation or coolness. Indeed, much focus on research has been employed in environmental psychology to tell the design or urban open space to promote restoration in addition to other health goals (Joye, 2006). This paper examines how water on the landscape makes the environment more relaxing and cooler. The impacts of water features on natural birth are also examined
Making the environment more relaxing and cooler
Water feature is classified as part of the visible landscape, which is believed to affect human beings through aesthetic appeal and their capacity to promote mental health and wellbeing (Velarde at al., 2007). Technically, they refer to natural focal point of outdoor living spaces. Such decorative water features include ornamental pools, waterfalls, fountains, splash pools and swimming pools are the major water features for landscapes.
Adding water features, such as water ponds, has received much attention at research and policy level due to their aesthetic appeal and benefits in providing a relaxing and cooler environment. Well-designed water features make a patio or garden cooler and relaxing. Several researches have linked physical landscape and health effects. According to Velarde at al. (2007), the perception that viewing water features in the landscape can ameliorate stress as well as promote health of patients dates back to early architecture in China, Greece and Persia.
Velarde at al. (2007) explains that the terms therapeutic and healing describe the favourable process promoting general wellbeing. With this regard, water features make a landscape more therapeutic, as they have an enduring reputation for attaining mental, physical and spiritual healing. Water in the landscape can therefore be essential in relieving three features. These include reprieve from physical symptoms, trauma or illness, reduction of stress and increasing the extent of comfort for persons who experience physically and emotionally strenuous experiences. They also enhance the overall sense of wellbeing (Roe & Aspinall, 2013). For instance, water ponds enhance relaxation. At the same time, fountain can relieve stress. The sound of running water has also been suggested to be a huge stress reliever.
Several theories can be used to explain how water features on the landscape make the environment more relaxing and cooler, hence promoting health and general wellbeing. According to contemporary theories like Stress Recovery theory, natural scenes such as ponds and waterfalls tend to reduce stress, while landscapes without such natural features tend to hinder stress recovery. Studies have presented likely explanations for such correlations (Roe & Aspinall, 2013). According to evolutionary theory of landscape preference, benefits acquired from natural sceneries such as waterfalls in a landscape reflect the landscape features that gratify human biological needs (Hartig & Staats, n.d.). Some studies in environmental psychology examined the restorative effects of natural features designed in landscapes as a key reason why people will always prefer landscapes with natural features, such as waterfalls and ponds, to urban ones that lack the features (Van den Berg et al., 2007). Some researchers have suggested that humans have a general innate bond with features that depict natures, because of their relaxing properties, which directly benefits the health.
Several researchers have also linked water features to being environmentally friendly (Velarde at al., 2007). Current studies show that having water features in the yard enhance air quality. The continually evaporating water enables water to filter the air. Additionally, it improves biodiversity of the landscape, hence attracting birds and animals, which benefit from the wetter and cooler environment (Cheung & Wells, 2004).
Some studies have also linked water features on landscapes to nature. Additionally, they stimulate individuals’ senses as they add aquatic soundtracks to the landscape. They also add life, sound and movement to the environment. They also add tranquillity and soothing sounds that provide therapeutic effects, including boosting mental health and lowering blood pressure. All these serve to promote relaxation (Velarde at al., 2007).
Impacts on natural birth
Water features in landscape offer soothing and comfortable environment. These benefits are of great significance to expectant mothers as relaxation promotes natural births (Duigan, n.d.).
A significant aspect of benefits of water features on landscapes to labour and natural birth have been examined by several experts. Water features can provide therapy during pregnancy and birth, as their site provides relaxation. A vital part of the satisfaction gained from the water in the landscape does not need one to be in a natural setting. Rather, one only needs to have a view of it (Velarde at al., 2007). Among other studies that have indicated therapeutic benefits associated with experiencing nature have been anchored in the benefits derived from observing the water ponds rather than performing activities such as swimming (Joye, 2006).
Water features make a landscape more therapeutic, as they have an enduring reputation for attaining mental, physical and spiritual healing. Water in the landscape can therefore be essential in relieving from physical symptoms, trauma or illness and reduction of stress. They also comfort from physically and emotionally strenuous experiences. These benefits promote natural birth, as need relaxation and pain management are critical for childbirth.
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Expectant women acquire bodies that harden, ache and sometimes feel awkward. The site of the water features in a landscape promotes relaxation, which helps in pain management (Brown at al., 2001). Stepping into a warm pool of water can instantly relieve women of weight as well as eases feet discomfort. It also eases the discomfort of the abdomen and back, enabling them to move freely. Expectant women who are ready to deliver are likely to experience pains and aches in their joints. Water features such as waterfalls and ponds can promote the likelihood of natural birth. Additionally, expectant women experiencing sciatica, high blood pressure, swelling can benefit from relief and relaxation. These promote the chances of natural birth (Verdult, 2009).
Through relaxation and pain management, expectant woman’s free movement and pain management are promoted. This in turn promotes natural movement of the fetus by changing positions within the abdomen. As the fetus gets lower in the birth canal, women can freely move their knees apart, hence enabling them to move their hands down to touch the head of the baby that starts to crown. Once the head of the baby emerges, the mother can squat more uprightly. This enables women to find their innate birthing from inside (Duigan, n.d.).