9 answers

Natural Birth Vs. Water Birth

Hi, to all the moms out there. Any advice on this would be truly appreciated and Thank You in advance. Okay so I am pregnant right now (17 weeks) w/my 3rd one and I am scared beyond anything else. I mean the labor & delivery itself is just something that I am dreading. I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm whining I 'm just really scared about that last part of the pregnancy. We have 2 beautiful kids a girl and a boy. Both my 2 children were natural birth w/the exception that w/my 1st one I had an epidural. My 2nd I did not. I don't plan on having an epidural w/my 3rd one which is the reason I am asking what are the pros and cons of having a water birth. Or anyone who has experienced both which one did you prefer best. I am looking for a method that will be less painful which I know seems unlikely but I could really use your advice. Thank You.

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I did not get the chance to actually give birth in the water but my doc let me "stew" in there (whirlpool/tub) as long as i could and it was HEAVEN for me as was the shower! I could only imagine how wonderful giving birth would be! Good Luck! (and CONGRATS on your third!! I think bigger families are great!)

With my 2 I had an epidural and I didn't feel a thing. With my first, I had several pretty painful contractions before I asked for the epidural cause I always heard the horror stories of it wearing off and through all the pushing and contractions I felt NOTHING. I was even able to take a nap!
With my second, I had an epidural after the first semi-painful contraction. The only thing that was different this time was the doctor turned the epidural off right before I was raedy to push and I did feel the pressure but it wasn't painful at all. For me, an epidural is the painfree way!

First of all, it sounds like you may have had bad experiences with labor and I feel for you entirely. That part of things is not really fun for anyone. However, I will tell you that it does NOT have to be a bad experience at all. If it is at all reassuring I will tell you that water births are amazing. I watched a bunch of videos to learn about it and in the end I labored the entire time in a hydrotub till the baby fully crowned and then I just got out and the baby came out as soon as I got on the bed and pushed her out. And just to let you know how doable it is in water, I had pitocin the whole time because my water bag had broken two days before and they were upping it more and more through the labor. It was super quick and the contractions were very doable. I will not kid you that it is a bit painful but very very manageable. Its not the same type of pain, just more intense pressure sensation rather than pain. I felt in control of the pain because the waves of contractions would come and I would just bear down with the pressure and I am sure the water made it feasible and quick cause my other labor was not quick at all and it was impossible in terms of pain. Really horrible. 32 hours, 5 hours of pushing. This time around it was so short 1 1/2 hrs total. Beginning to end. I really advocate water birthing and water labor. It is great. If you need a practice that does water birthing I don't have specific names other than maybe homefirst but check that out. In terms of hospital setting, I am not familiar but with the tub during labor, I had that at St. Francis in Evanston and I could not say enough praise about the maternity ward there. They are AWESOME. The nurses are attentive and caring and you feel like you are the only woman they are caring for, seriously. I loved the whole experience. Yes, I said LOVED it. I wish I could do it over 10 times. (Oh, and I did not drink anything this evening. LOL)

Good luck and it will be great! Congratulation and let everyone be healthy and happy.

Hi M.! I am a labor doula and I have to tell you, water helps so much with pain. It is one of the best things I use with clients to help them and they are just in awe about how much it cuts the pain in half. With my last child, when I was in labor and still at home and hurting, it was early in the morning so I thought, I am in pain, I want to get in the water and also get cleaned up, so I took a shower and boy oh boy did that pain cut in half. I have also attended a couple homebirth waterbirths and they were great. I would definitely encourage you to do this if you can. I think it would really help you out alot.

S. Bailey CLD

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!


My second son was born in a water birth. It really does help.

I found myself kind of stressed going in my 2nd trimester because my first son's birth was pretty fast and painful (induced, failed epidural so no pain meds). I hadn't been aware of being nervous about the second labor until I was well into the pregnancy! I worked with a wonderful hypnobirthing coach. I talked to someone who did a class and we set up private coaching (because the schedule for classes didn't work with our schedule.) We did a whole session about my fears about the labor and after the baby came. It was so helpful!

The hypnobirthing visualizations really helped with the birth, too. It was exactly the type of childbirth experience I had been hoping for. The warm water definitely helped me to relax and open up into the contractions.

(I'm not sure what you meant by natural v. water - doesn't natural just mean no pain medication?)

Best wishes for a wonderful labor and delivery!

YES to water and YES to everything Amanda wrote!!!

Hi M.,
I have had 3 babies and the only pain management I used was water. With the first I labored in the tub, but that hospital did not allow me to deliver in the tub. The next two were both water births, and I loved it. I had to wait a little to get in the tub the last time (waiting for my midwife to get there, being evaluated, filling the tub, etc) and that was the worst part. I couldn't wait to get in, it is very relaxing and comforting. I would highly recommend it! I would also encourage you to find a way to work through your fears before the labor and birth, I truly believe that fear has a huge affect on how you cope with labor. If you are full of anxiety even before the labor starts the pain may be harder to deal with. Maybe you could try journaling, positive affirmations, relaxation/visualization, or talking to someone (your health care provider, a counselor, or a friend). Good luck with the pregnancy and childbirth.

What's the difference between a birth tub and a regular tub? With my first born I did sit in my regular bath tub and I got so hot in the water. Also, I just got this grossed out feeling being in the water for more than 15 minutes. Maybe it was just nausea. With my second born, I didn't use any tub and towards the end I would go from very hot to cold and shaking. I don't know if a birthing tub would be worth it for my third. Although with my second pregnancy, I did have a lot of back pain and I maybe should've tried the tub.

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