I had a water birth at West Suburban/Resurrection hospital with the West Suburban Midwife group 9 weeks ago and it was wonderful! I also hired a doula to support me. I labored in the shower with hot water on my back for awhile during which they filled the tub. They kept the drain open on the tub and put the hot water tube against my back while I laid in the tub and it was wonderful. I can't say enough good things about it!
I had my first daughter vaginally and had terrible back labor. I ended up getting an epidural just moments before I had to push, which really did no good for pain management, and I ended up with horrible pain from the injection site.
Good for you for going natural! C-sections are high risk surgeries that open up your entire abdomen and can cause serious damage to you and the baby, not to mention the healing time is increased!
I recommend using all the resources available to you for pain management without going the drug route! For me, the water against my back was better than the Stadol injection or the epidural with my first. I could feel everything, but it wasn't overwhelming until it was time to push. Pushing was easier too, and faster... maybe because our bodies naturally relax in water, I don't know!
The only drawback for a water birth for me was that, in order to keep the baby warm, they do take him/her from you almost immediately and put them on the warming table while you are getting out of the tub. With my first birth, I held my daughter almost continuously for the first hour, other than them taking her to make sure she was okay for a few minutes. Both times, babies stayed in the room during the checking/warming, but it was hard to be the "last one" to see my baby as I got out of the tub this time. I would not change it though- it was awesome!! And of course, she was back in my arms as soon as I got into bed and got dried off.
Also, you can choose to labor in the tub and then get out for the birth if you want to. Lots of local hospitals have labor tubs but not "birth" tubs, so they make you get out anyway. I wanted to have the option to stay in, and I think it was a good choice since it made it so much easier knowing I didn't *HAVE* to move at that point!
My doula massaged me too, which helped. She is a licensed massage therapist, which I would definitely recommend. The more people you have "on your side" telling you that you CAN do this and helping you manage your pain, the more likely you are to believe it! A doula does NOT take the place of your husband; she is there to support the both of you and give you what you need- whether it be to feed you ice, rub your back, or go get your hubby a sandwich from the cafeteria so he can support you!
Use your instincts when hiring a practitioner too. Remember that midwives have lower rates of c-section than OB's. CNMs (certified nurse midwives) have OB backups in the case you DO need a cesarean, but they are more prone to encouraging you to go the natural route and giving you the tools to do so! Interview the person you want there when you deliver your baby- they are working for YOU! I went through 3 different midwife groups during this recent pregnancy until I found one that was a good fit for me, my beliefs, and what I wanted in my birth. Don't be afraid to "fire" your practitioner if you dont' see eye to eye or if you hate the hospital they practice at!
I highly recommend the mothering dot commune for more info and discussion on laboring naturally-
I also recommend doing LOTS of reading!
A great author is Henci Goer. She has a book called The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth.
Also, Ricki Lake has a new movie called, "The Business of Being Born" that you might have heard of recently. It is previewing at the Wilmette Public Library on Sunday, Jan 20 at 1pm and you can buy tickets online...
Or I hear it is coming out on NetFlix in mid Feb.
If you have any more questions, feel free to send me a message privately too.
Congrats on your pregnancy!