Water Birth? Birthing Chair? Kneeling Birth? Successful or No?

Updated on April 19, 2008
M.E. asks from Chicago, IL
7 answers

Hi Everyone,

I was hoping that some ladies out there with experience trying alternative birthing positions could share their experience. Specifically, did you use a dr or midwife? Did you have any kind of pain relief? Did you have any kind of fetal monitoring? How did your birth experience go? Would you do it again? Where did you do this?

I'd like to hear from women who attempted to birth using an alternative position whether you were successful or not. I want to hear the good and the bad : )

EDITED: I'm not due until October. I was an IVF patient and am finally pregnant after a year of grueling fertility treatments so I've had a long time to ponder this and now it's time to gather info. I really appreciate everyone sharing all their experiences. If it's not too personal, may I ask if any of you tore badly? That's a big fear of mine as I am concerned about incontinence later in life. Thanks again! : )


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answers from Chicago on

Any position other than on your back is beneficial to you- AND improves the baby's ability to negotiate your pelvis. Being on your back in the usual delivery position increases your chances of tearing. It also prevents your pelvis from opening fully and makes it more difficult for your baby to drop under the pubic bone to get out. Any other position will prevent those problems (squatting is associated with a slight increase in first degree (minor) tears but a HUGE decrease in 3rd and 4th degree (major) tears).

Evidence-based practice says that continuous fetal monitoring increases your risk of a c-section but does not reduce risks or improve outcomes. You can request intermittent auscultation which means that every 30 minutes in first stage labor and every 15 minutes in second stage labor the nurse or your care provider will listen to baby's heartrate with a handheld doppler or the fetal monitor before, during, and after a contraction. Fetal monitors were actually never tested- just mass marketed by the company that developed them.

Water birth is beneficial to mom and baby- it reduces pain, tearing, and unnecessary interventions. It provides a warm transition for baby as well.

I would highly recommend a midwife over an OB. Midwives provide more hands on care- you can expect your midwife to sit with you the entire time you are in labor while a doctor will just come at the end to catch the baby.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It was our full attempt to have a water birth. Unfortunately, the night of our birth L&D was a booming place and we didn't get one of the rooms with a tub. Bummer.

We had prepared for a Bradley Birth. I had sterile water injections in my back which alleviated my back labor pain. I honestly don't know that I would do the sterile water injections again. It was painful to get put in and it just moved the pain from my back to my belly. I labored in the shower (wireless/water proof monitors) and started out pushing in a squat position. I wasn't breathing right and had to get oxygen, so I was moved to the bed, but I was in the side-lying position and that is how I gave birth.

We had a drug free labor at UIC. I would do it 100 more times. It was such an amazing birth experience.

Honestly, I think its whatever you are comfortable with. We had a very supportive midwife who really let my husband and I take the lead. If you are looking for a natural birth, I would highly recommend looking into Bradley Birthing Classes. Its a lengthy amount of time to be in class, but soooo worth it. The connection between my husband and I (which was already amazing) brought us even closer together.

I was able to deliver my son (once his head and shoulders were out, I reached down and pulled him to my chest). My midwife was really just a secondary coach but really let my husband coach me.

If you'd like more info, send me a PM. Good Luck with your "birth day!"



answers from Chicago on

I also had a water birth with West Suburban Midwife Associates, at West Sub (but a few years ago). So I'll save space and say, "what the other posters said." It was a wonderful, peak experience.

From what I can tell, it seems like the most comfortable position depends on the woman, the baby's position, etc. What feels good to you. I think being comfortable and relaxed (water, hypnobirthing preparation) was the key rather than the specific position, for me. Also, avoiding having a monitor strapped on, as I did with my first son's birth (OB, induced, ouch). Having a portable monitor and only occasional monitoring was one of the most important things I wanted the second time.

We didn't do any other birth preparation classes, although we read a lot, including a Bradley book.



answers from Chicago on

I also use West Suburban midwives and delivered in west suburban's alternative birthing center. It was a fantastic experience. my first baby was in a typical hospital, in a bed with a fetal monitor, etc. THey kept getting mad at me everytime I got up to walk b/c of that stupid monitor. My son was born 6 weeks ago and I had a water birth. Pretty amazing experience. Julie, my midwife was there from the second I got to the hospital and stayed for about an hour after the birth. That is something that you won't get with an OB. I'm sure there are some good ones out there but the stipulation in the birthing center is that your midwife/ob be there the entire time and they haven't found any ob's to do this. I had planned on delivering in water but was playing it by ear. I showered a lot in labor b/c it just felt good. I was in bed for a little while on my hands and knees b/c it also just felt better. the birthing ball was there but i didn't use it much, only in between contractions, I thought I'd fall off otherwise during a contraction. Nobody bothered me, no nurses or anything. I think there was a nurse there for the birth, but I don't even really remember. I got to hold him immediately and my husband got to cut the cord. I had my mom, sister, husband, and daughter (who is only 2) there with me. Most hospitals don't let you have that many people there. My daughter now thinks that babies are born in showers, which is pretty funny. Better than believing in storks I suppose. THere was a stool in the room which I suppose I could have even used in the tub but it was just nice to sit in there. It still hurt and wasn't fun but I didn't tear at all and it was less painful than my daughter's birth, which I pushed for much longer and ended up with an episiotomy b/c the ob had me convinced there was no other way. I was so tired then that I didn't have the presence of mind to just get up and squat. I will always regret that so don't be conned into anything you aren't comfortable with. I had to leave the room the next afternoon to a regular room b/c someone else needed it. That was the only con there. And the fact that the nurses weren't really that great there. It's a good thing I am an old pro at nursing b/c I definitely
wouldn't have gotten any help from the nursing staff there. They don't have a lactation consultant there so have phone #s of La Leche League leaders with you or someone you trust to help you if you need help getting your baby to latch on. Generally though, a drug free birth keeps the baby pretty alert and makes it easier for them to nurse right away. As someone else said, they put a monitor on me when we got to the hospital for 20 minutes or so to make sure the baby was fine. I don't remember Julie using the doppler much but I'm sure she did. I know definitely once I got in the tub but I didn't get in until I was ready to push. Anyway, it was a great experience and I would do it again. If you have any more ??? feel free to email me. The birthing class at W.S. is great and is taught by Pam Hayes. She also gave me the tour of the ABC room. West Suburban Midwives are located in the Medical Arts building on Lake Street, just east of Oak Park Ave in Oak Park.



answers from Chicago on

Congrats on your upcoming baby!!

I have had 2 children with the West Sub midwife associates in Oak Park and it was great!

I would highly recommend midwifery care over OB care-- midwives spend more time with you and the quality of care is so much better!

I had 2 wonderful natural unmedicated births at west suburban hospital because I knew it was safer and I wanted to experience the amazing thing that my body was made to do!

If you have a hospital birth-- you will have to have an "initial strip" done which is the way they protect themselves from lawsuits-- they monitor you continuously for 20-30 minutes and then most mother-friendly hospitals will monitor intermittantly. Continuous monitoring without cause is not shown to change outcome and is shown to increase your risks of unecessary interventions including c-section.

My first birth was a little rougher. I had back labor (meaning the baby was facing my front instead of my back) which gives you contractions in the back (back ache) and contraction timing was a bit unpredictable and labor was longer. I tried for a water birth but it was too relaxing and I kept falling asleep so I ended up on a birthing chair (supported squat).

My second birth- I had chiropractic care throughout as I wanted to lower my risk of back labor. I had an almost painless labor and a fantastic water birth.

I highly recommend taking childbirth classes... not a short hospital class that teaches you to be a good patient. A class that has only YOUR best interests in mind. I am a Bradley teacher so - of course I recommend Bradley over all others. LOL.

I also recommend yoga during pregnancy.

Educate yourself. Read "Creating Your Birth Plan" by Marsden Wagner, "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" by Henci Goer are good starts.

If you want to talk or find a class... feel free to PM me.

C. Szczeblowski, AAHCC



answers from Chicago on

Two homebirths with a midwife for me, after a hospital controlled birth. By intuition, I birthed the 2 babies at home on my hands and knees with no instrution for anyone, one of them in the water. I would have a homebirth MY WAY at home in a second! Yes, there was some fetal monitoring. Women should be allowed to give birth in positions that are best for them, ways that best suite each birth, pushing in their own way ALL without interference and guidance by others who think they know better than nature.



answers from Chicago on

As you have been reading, water birth is a wonderful experience. With my first I labored in the tub but that hospital did not allow me to birth in there so I had to get out at the end to push. With my last two I delivered at West Sub hospital's ABC room with a midwife, both were water births using intermittent monitoring with a handheld device and no meds or interventions. I would highly recommend it. But it is important to be aware (or have supportive people with you that are aware) of several alternatives positions for labor and delivery and to be flexible when the time comes. What feels good in labor may not feel right at delivery, or what you think you want now may turn out to be not so appealing when labor starts. So go with what feels right at the time.
As a recent graduate of the midwifery program at UIC I have assisted many women in labor and delivery, and many of them chose water. But as others have mentioned the labor ball, toilet, walking, bending over, hands and knees, laying on your side, rocking chair, birthing stool, are all good choices for labor and many work for delivery too. It is best to take a good family-centered/natural childbirth class if that is what you are considering, and reading on your own is also very helpful. Being informed is the best safegaurd you can have for you and your baby. Good Luck!

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