Info on Water Birth

Updated on October 24, 2008
K.M. asks from Sugar Grove, NC
18 answers

Hello everyone. I am 7 weeks pregnant and we are going to a different doctor and hospital for the birth of our second child. This new hospital offers you to have a water birth. So I was just wanting some input on the pro and cons of water births and if there is some other moms out there that have done it and what your opinion and stories are.

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T.C.

answers from Knoxville on

I highly recommend it. If you are not high risk, continue to consider it as an option. I did deliver in water and it was a very good experience.

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J.H.

answers from Omaha on

Hello K.,

When I read your request for information on water birth, I couldn't help but respond immediately. I just had my second water birth nearly five months ago. My previous water birth was in October of 2005. I have also had two births where I labored in the tub but did not birth there. I can tell you from personal experience that my water births were far more preferable to getting out of the water and birthing in bed. I honestly cannot think of a single "con" to having a water birth. However, I can share several of the "pros" with you.

First I must add that my two water births were at home, and my other two births were in the hospital. All four births were completely natural, however, I am sure that having given birth at home has also colored my preferance for the water births.

When you use hydrotherapy during labor, it does take some of the edge off the pain. Don't let me mislead you -- it does not take the labor pains away. However, it does make your body feel more buoyant and relaxed, and the jets feel especially wonderful when you have back labor, as I did. When your body is able to relax, and your mind is at peace, you will be better able to birth your baby without interventions.

With my first two births I labored in the tub until I was 10 cm. dilated, and then rushed off to the hospital to push the baby out. I must admit, getting out of the water was awful for me. Getting into the car was even worse. My first two births were 7 hrs. long and 3 hrs. long, however my water births were just two hours for each birth. Getting into the water at the right time (which for me was in active labor, at 5-7 cm. dilated) really helped to keep the momentum of my contractions going. I was able to welcome the ever increasing contractions as doing their job to help me birth my baby.

Another benefit that cannot be overlooked is the benefit to the baby. A baby born in water is able to come into this world gently and peacefully. My babies' Apgar scores were 9 and 10 at 1 and 5 minutes respectively, and yet the babies hardly cried when they were first born. Then of course, they let out a healthy holler, and proceeded to self-latch onto my breast. And of course, since water helps you to birth naturally, your baby does not come into this world drugged or through a c-section, which doesn't allow as much mucous to be expelled from the baby as during a vaginal birth.

The water should be warm (ours was about 99 or 100 degrees), but not too hot. The tub should be clean, but we made sure ours wasn't full of cleaning chemicals. We had a net in case I pooped in the water, but I didn't need to use it. The baby, however, did pass meconium into the water, which was no big deal.

My water babies were big (9 and 10 lbs.), so I didn't get them out in one push. However, since the baby does not breath through his or her lungs until he or she takes the first breath of air, it is okay for a baby to remain under water for a short time while you push the rest of the baby out after the head comes out. My babies were underwater for about 1-2 minutes after the head was born. They continued to breathe through their umbilical cord. And in the event of any unexpected circumstances, my midwife and her assistant came prepared with their supplies and their awesome skills.

Since you are birthing in the hospital, I would be sure to clarify that there will be a tub available for your use. If there are only a few tubs, and several women are already in labor and are using the birthing tubs, you may find yourself out of luck. And if you don't have a back-up plan, you may find yourself very disappointed during your labor and birth. To avoid this disappointment, ask lots of questions beforehand.

Also be sure that they won't try to find a reason why you cannot use the tub. Having your water break prior to the onset of contractions does not prohibit you from using the tub. With both of my water births my membranes ruptured just prior to the first contraction (clear water - no meconium), and I was able to labor and birth in the tub with abolutely no problem and no risk of infection.

An excellent resource on water birth is Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper (founder of Waterbirth International). I read this book in its entirety prior to my first birth, and it was very interesting and informative. There is also an accompanying video of water births that you can purchase.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to e-mail me. I wish you the best of luck with your pregnancy and birth, and I hope you have the beautiful waterbirth of your dreams, as I was blessed enough to have. Good Luck!

Sincerely,
J. Hernandez
[email protected]____.com

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K.P.

answers from Santa Fe on

My first was a water birth, but my second was not -- both were planned home births. I think that water birth is definitely an option to keep in mind, and many women absolutely love them and couldn't imagine giving birth anywhere else. Here is a blog post that gives a different perspective:
http://empoweredbirth.typepad.com/empowering_birth_blog/2...

I had a similar experience -- the water was only tepid, and I wanted it to be *hot*. (They won't let it be hot, because it could overheat the baby, or it can make you or baby look like you've got a fever, which then makes them think you've got an infection, so antibiotics, etc.) Still, it was nice to have the buoyancy, but the water didn't help my contractions the way I had heard some women talk. During my second labor, I wished that I had that option, but I had not gotten a labor tub.

Keep your options open -- you may love it, or you may be disenchanted with it. Make sure you will actually be allowed to use the tub, though! Years ago, I read of a hospital that "offered" a labor tub, but then they had so many rules and restrictions, that nobody could actually labor or give birth in the thing. (They wouldn't let you labor in the pool before your water broke, because if it broke while you were in the water, you might not know; and they wouldn't let you labor in the pool after your water broke, because they required you to be in bed the entire time after your water broke [which is stupid and ridiculous, btw].)

A previous person commented on the amniotic sac breaking while in the labor tub. If there is no meconium (baby's first bowel movement, usually held until after the birth), then the water should be clean and clear. Even if there is meconium, it is sterile, like the baby, the amniotic fluid, and everything else inside your uterus. Your baby doesn't get any bacteria until he is born, so meconium isn't like real poop.

I gave birth in the water, and that was actually a bit neater than my other birth, because the baby was birthed into his first "bath" which cleaned off any blood that may have gotten on him. The midwife didn't want me to birth the placenta in the water, though (so she could better estimate the amount of blood loss -- a little red blood in water goes a *long* way), so I had to get out of the tub within just a few minutes of his birth. That was okay, but some women find it disturbing to have to move so quickly, instead of just sitting back and enjoying the baby. Some care providers do not have a problem with delivering the placenta in the tub, but this is one thing you should probably find out beforehand, so it doesn't come as a shock or surprise to you.

And, I agree with another previous commenter about doing some sort of natural childbirth prep class. She mentioned HypnoBirthing; there is also HypnoBabies (which a couple of email friends of mine teach, and there is a home-study option as well); you may also want to look into Bradley classes, or possibly a natural-childbirth class that is not affiliated with any national group. This is another thing you'll want to cover with your doc/hospital -- if you'll be able to use the tub if you've got an IV, or are on pitocin or anything. Most likely, you won't be able to use the tub if you have any sort of medical pain relief (epidural, spinal, injection), so if you want to keep your labor/birth-tub option open, you'll want to avoid as much intervention as possible (induction, augmenting labor, epidural, etc.). This is where a natural-childbirth class can be invaluable!

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H.H.

answers from Denver on

Hello K.!

I had an epidural on two births and water on two births and I would TOTALLY TAKE WATER OVER EPIDURAL ANY DAY!!! I am also a birth doula (labor coach) and movement is your best friend in labor. An epidural really limits your movement so there is the potential of a slower labor. With water I was able to handle my contractions so much better. And because I floated I could move on the instant I thought of it. (which was great because I was being very demanding :o) )

a couple of tips: buy one of the children's swim rings (12-18"??) and bring it with you. That way you can place it around your neck and you can float without your head sinking.

Also having a large pitcher to pour water over the tummy during a contraction. This helped me handle the contraction better.

I used my swim suit top so I was modest for the video.

Also people are grossed out because of the blood in the water. Blood is heavier than water so it sinks to the bottom and usually they get you out of the water fairly shortly after so you can birth the afterbirth in the bed. (so less blood in the water, if any)

And other doula tip: if you make noise during labor ask or husband/coach to remind(beforehand) to keep your tones from going high pitched (this tenses you up and makes it harder to handle the contraction) Instead try the "h" sound and then moan it with your tone going deeper. (it helps to relax!)

Good luck and if you have any questions you are more than welcome to ask!

H. H. Mother of three, Military wife and birth doula
My doula website is: http://heidialiedoula.homestead.com/

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T.C.

answers from Nashville on

I am a labor and delivery nurse. Water births are awesome for natural birth! You cannot do it if you have an epidural. Most of my patients would use the tub for the labor part. The warm water really helps ease the contractions. The major con to water birth is right after the baby is born you HAVE TO GET OUT and you will deliver the placenta on the toilet nearby. So there will be little bonding time after the baby is born. Just some things to think about.

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K.A.

answers from Hickory on

I've never experienced it, but have a cousin who has and did it 3 times. She loved it. Said it was very easy and went fairly quick for her. She never said anything negative about it. Good luck and congratulations!

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T.S.

answers from Lexington on

When I was pregnant with my daughter I considered water birth. The hospital I delivered at didn't allow me to deliver in the tub but I could labor in there. So as planned I was put in the tub to help relieve the pain. Once I was in there it was much different then I thought. I didn't like it. I ended up using a birth ball instead. I think you should definitely look into it if you a seriously interested. But have a back up plan too and don't be upset if on delivery day things don't go as planned. The out come is the most important thing. A healthy mom and baby.
Congratulations and good luck
T.

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T.G.

answers from Charlotte on

Hi K.,
I had a water birth with my second child and was very pleased with the experience. I made the decision for two reasons, 1 - I wanted to ease the pain of labor and 2 - I wanted to provide a more comfortable entrance into the world for my daughter. The water was soothing and relaxing and my daughter was very calm upon her birth. She came out of the water and was layed on my chest. She seemed very content. My water broke while I was in the tub and it was no issue for me. Whatever method you choose to pursue, just savor the incredible blessing of bringing a child into this world.

God Bless,
T.

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A.C.

answers from Charlotte on

Hi K.. I had two home births and I had a pool in my kitchen that I sat in for labor. The warm water does help with the pain and it was such a nice place to sit and rest. My husband and midwives kept the water temp around 100 degree's just in case I had the baby in the water. I don't know how hospitals do it but my midwives kept replacing some of the water through out my labor. I actually ended up giving birth outside of the pool both times. Just see how your labor goes and maybe labor in the water a bit then get out walk around or change positions and see how you feel when your getting close to transition. The one thing that I liked about staying in the water during labor was the help with pain and it kept me cleaner. One of my fears was that the baby would try to breath under the water as soon as she came out but my midwife said that is why they keep the water around your body temp. One thing that makes a baby take a deep breath and start to cry is the sudden change in temperature. I guess it would be shocking. Good luck and I hope you have a great pregnancy and birth!

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M.W.

answers from Huntington on

My last child was my first waterbirth, 20 yrs ago. I have attended many waterbirths since then. Waterbirth has been nickmaned the aquadural, as its pain relieving qualities are so good! It relaxes you, and eases the contractions without the dangerous side effects the epidural has. I never had a woman have a waterbirth that didn't love it! I have never had any problems with a waterbirth, other than keeping the water the right temp. But if you view it as a relaxation technique for getting through labor, not an end in itself, it doesn't really matter that much if you actually get to birth in the water, as long as you're able to be in it during the rough contractions. It is so relaxing, it can actually slow labor down if you get in too soon, but an hour in, an hour out, can be repeated as long as necessary, as long as there are no complicating factors. You'd want to get out after an hour to pee anyway. The baby isn't stimulated to start breathing until it hits air, so as long as the baby's floating to the surface isn't artificially delayed, the baby will not drown. Also, while under water, the cord tends to pulsate longer, bringing more O2 to ther baby for longer than in a normal birth. I've even had a footling breech and several VBAC's deliver in my tub. My favorite waterbirth book is "We are All Waterbabies" by Jessica Johnson & Michel Odent. My favorite waterbirth video is "Birthday" by Naoli Vinaver. "Birth Reborn" (a book & a video by Dr. Michel Odent) & ""Birthed Into Being" are also great videos with waterbirths.
Someone said they "with a waterbirth, you had to get out right away to deliver the placenta". this was mandated by her care provider, and is not the case with all waterbirths. Most of my clients who have waterbirths remain in the water until well after the placenta has delivered. Check the protocols of your care provider.
Someone else said they would have had a waterbirth, if it was an option. It is always an option. Just get in your tub or pool, and have a waterbirth. Who's going to stop you? It is your choice, as it was hers to choose the care provider & birthing environment that you feel most comfortable with. However you do it, women must take responsibility for their own birth plan. After all, you pay your care provider to serve you, if they don't give satisfactory service, switch providers!

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T.C.

answers from Lexington on

Hi K.,

I have a couple of friends who've had water births, actually both were at home in baby pools. They both had great experiences. One of the ladies is a nurse and she used to work in a hospital where they did a lot of water births. She said that it really helps with the pain and helps you relax. I probably would have tried it if it had been an option for me.

Blessings,
T.

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T.C.

answers from Charlotte on

Congratulations! It just makes sense that water birth would be more calming and relieve some of the pressure. BUT one thing I considered and scared me away from it was; what if my water broke and I had to sit in yucky water. My water broke with my 3rd and it was pretty messy. Anyway whether you do water or not you should look into hypno birthing. I loved it! I don't think they have classes around here but just get a book and cd online. It helped me a lot!

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L.

answers from Charlotte on

Can you tell us the name of the hospital and doctor willing to do the water birth? I'm interested in it too, as I've heard it's a great way to go - less painful, less drugs needed (for pain). The hospital I had my son in had a water tank for that, but we were told that there weren't hardly any doctors who would do it. They said that they don't want to get into the water with you because it exposes them to so many germs and stuff. So I would love to hear where and who will do this. Thanks!

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K.C.

answers from Raleigh on

Water birth was an option for me during my first birth in NH. However, once they told me that I couldn't have an epidural, I had to rule it out!!! It severely limits your pain management.

J.L.

answers from Clarksville on

Hi K.,
Congratulations on your pregnancy. While I've never experienced a waterbirth, I have labored in water for my first birth. I very much enjoyed it and found it relaxing, however, I wanted to walk some and just never made it back to the water for the birth of my son. =(

My friends that have had waterbirths have all had positive birth experiences and swear it's the most peaceful, easy way to give birth.

Here are some links for you that will be beneficial in your research. I think you will find them helpful.

http://www.waterbirth.org/mc/page.do

http://www.waterbirthinfo.com/

http://www.justmommies.com/articles/waterbirthing.shtml

Once again, congratulations!

Peace,
J.

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A.C.

answers from Raleigh on

I just delivered 4 weeks ago with a waterbirth. I loved it the pain was a 9 out of 10 before I got into the water. After it was a 4-5 out of 10. I also labored in the shower before getting in the tub that was very helpful. Try to take the pain as long as possible because laying down in the tub can slow the labor down. I had only a small tear that needed one stitch and I didn't even feel it. The water helped so much during crowning it was not the excuciating pain that most moms describe. I would have another waterbirth in a heartbeat. Be careful about hospital policy some will only allow labor but not pushing in the tub. I had to go to the birth center in Chapel Hill to get my water birth. Good luck I wish you the best.

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B.F.

answers from Asheville on

I am a couple months away from my second water birth. My first was wonderful! I was in the water for about an hour before our daughter was born. It was magical for her to be put directly on my chest. The skin to skin contact with the slight pull on the umbilical cord is a feeling I will never forget. As for relieving pain. I went all natural as you have to do in a water birth because if you get an epidural you have to be connected to the fetal manitor. It hurt, but it is supposed to. It is the purest most "right" pain you will ever feel. We are taught throughout our lives that pain is bad. . . but this is the only one I know of that is good. Embrace it:-) The tub did give me a feeling of weightlessness and secrity. .. and warm water is very relaxing. I do know that you should not get in the water too early. If you are not mostly dialated, like 7 or so cm, then the relaxing water can slow he progression of labor. Good luck!!!
Becka

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P.H.

answers from Clarksville on

Hello K.,

I did the waterbirth with my daughter (first child) and I must say, if I ever have another baby, waterbirth it will be. The pros are that you have a lot less tearing and the pain is way more doable in the water, since you don't have the extra pressure of the weight to contribute. The cons are that you usually have to choose between epidural and waterbirth. But since I lived to tell the tale I can say it was worth it. Just go with how intense the birth of your first child was and imagine whether you could do it without drugs and you have your answer. I still think the worst part for me was when I had to get out of the tub because my water wouldn't break and they had to do it for me, I so wanted to get back into that tub because the pain was much less there :))

Anyway, I was and still am all for it :) Good luck!

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