The water birth could be the closest you'll come to a get-away vacation during labor. So why are women so hesitant to give it a try?
Maybe because for everyone saying "oh, I loved my waterbirth" you have one of your older relatives chanting "Well, we wouldn't have dreamed of climbing in a tub of hot water. Think of the risks, dearie!"
Tell your partner to get out his swim trunks. It's time to take a dip in some water birth myths.
1. You Have to Have a Home Birth. It's always an option -- and in some areas the only option -- but an increasing number of hospitals offer waterbirthing (or hydrotherapy) to their patients. There aren't official records kept on the process, but of the 6,000 babies listed on Waterbirth International's "I Was Born in Water" list (all volunteered by parents) an increasing number of the moms gave birth in a hospital or birth center.
2. You Have to Stay in the Tub. If you're a candidate for water birth, your pregnancy is considered low risk. Which means you can pretty much do whatever you want. You can get out. You can walk around. You can decide to deliver in the bed.
More From The Stir: Are You Smart Enough to Give Birth? (TRIVIA)
3. OMG, the Baby Will Drown. Ever noticed the babies on TV shows have a bulb syringe stuck in their nose to suction out some weird goop? That's one of the (rare) things TV shows get right. A healthy baby starts to breathe correctly within 1 minute of birth, but most are born with a slight hypoxia or inability to intake oxygen. . . and water.
Even if they are to inhale water, according to water birth expert Barbara Harper, "Water is a hypotonic solution and lung fluids present in the fetus are hypertonic. Even if water were to travel in past the larynx, it could not pass into the lungs based on the fact that hypertonic solutions are denser and prevent hypotonic solutions from merging or coming into their presence."
4. Anyone Can Try a Water birth. They sound like a bit of heaven in the midst of a hurricane, but there are some real reasons to listen to your doctor/midwife when they lead you the other way. Studies that have reported problems with waterbirth found links to a problem with the pregnancy.
Among the reasons you might not be able to try it:
- Signs of fetal distress
- Meconium (your baby had a bowel movement prior to the birth)
- Excessive bleeding
- Premature labor
- Signs of infection
- High blood pressure
- Induced labor
- Anything that would require a fetal monitor (which can't go in the water).
More From The Stir: Incredible Images of Babies Being Born Give Us a Look at the Miracle of Birth
5. You Have to Be Naked. Beautiful thing about the water birth -- you can wear a bikini top to keep the boobies covered up (until nursing time, natch). And just take a nurse's advice on this one -- they prefer your partner cover up.
Are you going to try a waterbirth?
Image via © iStock.com/myrrha