Waterbirth Worry: How Clean Is That Tub?

Jeanne Sager

waterbirthIf there's any way to make labor sound like a relaxing day at the spa, the waterbirth is the one that always makes me think, "Oh, Calgon, take me away! Can they throw in a pedicure to make up for those pruney toes? I haven't been able to reach my feet in weeks."

Sadly, I didn't get to enjoy the soothing waters (stinky medically required induction), but the neurotic in me has to admit there was one reason I was relieved I never had to ask.

It's the same reason I look at those romantic getaway hot tubs and recoil: how clean can a hospital waterbirth tub really be?

Unfortunately I didn't befriend a labor and delivery nurse until five years after I gave birth. But good for you, I got her to give me the skinny:

1. The tubs with a disposable liner are the cleanest, hands down. That's because they fill them with water for you, then pump all the water out and dispose of the whole thing. Your butt never touches the same material as any other woman. Ever.

2. The jets sound nice, but they're a pain to clean. They'll be the most relaxing for your body, but if you are a bit iffy about germs, you might not relax in one of these tubs. Chemicals have to be run through a number of times to clean the crud (think everything coming out of you) that flows in and out.

3. Don't play with the water temperature! Hot water may be more comfy -- and seem like it would make everything more sanitary -- but a temp that's too high can cause an elevated temperature in your body and that of your baby. In turn that can lead to dehydration, dizziness, and low blood pressure, and it can cause fetal distress.

4. Yes, you can have a (non-alcoholic) drink. They're going to clean everything you leave behind, so don't worry about bringing stuff in there (although the nurse I spoke with said she'd rather your husband not show off his junk -- really, swimsuits Dad, swimsuits!).

Are you planning a waterbirth?


Image via lincoln-log/Flickr

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