10 Reasons to Consider Water Birth

Inspiring 34

water birthThere is so much to know about having a baby. For a lot of us, we just assume birth has to take place in a hospital. Sometimes it does, but it's not the only place to have a baby. There are of course accidental home births -- one of my friends had her daughter unexpectedly on the kitchen floor in her home. And there are planned home births, as well. Those are the kind of stories that remind me how we can trust ourselves and have faith in our ability to have a baby naturally, without issue, and without 398 nurses, residents, and doctors monitoring every second. If you think about it, all of that fuss just adds to the stress. Stress is the last thing you want when in labor.

Enter the water birth. Don't we all feel relaxed in water? Who doesn't love a hot tub? Water births can happen at home or in a birthing center or hospital that has this type of service. And they have amazing benefits. I've got the facts on having a water immersion birth.

1. Water is known to bring pain relief. Generations of women once gave birth in shallow sea water -- the therapeutic effects of water certainly don't have the side effects of labor drugs. The first modern birth pool was built by Russian boat builder Igor Tjarkovsky in the 1970s who, seeing the benefits, installed a glass tank in his home so women could birth with ease there.

More from The Stir: 8 Tips for Managing Labor Pain

2. Michel Odent, a French obstetrician, took water birth to another level by installing a plastic paddling pool in a hospital so women could birth in water and use less painkillers. 

reasons water birth3. To address the naysayers who quip "women aren't dolphins," we have to also remember that we aren't birds but we still fly in planes or hang gliders.

4. In Australia, the New South Wales Department of Health has a goal of having all maternity services (including hospitals) in the area to have birth pools available so women have the option by 2015. This is in response to the rising and problematic c-section rate.

5. The UK has also recommended all women to have the option of a water immersion birth at their maternity units after the revelation that the buoyancy of water allows women to move more easily, change positions better for birthing, and that along with the warmth brings relaxation and hormonal surges that are natural pain relievers.  

6. Evidence has emerged that water births could improve blood flow in the uterus, give women less painful contractions, keep blood pressure low, and decrease the risk of a long labor and the need for intervention.

7. Babies born when mom is in a semi-seated position have lower APGAR scores (less than 7) as compared to water birth babies. 

8. The benefits are also psychological. Being in a pool to birth makes us feel more in control, and the pool acts as our own little world, giving us a feeling of safety in our own space.

9. Some worry that a water birth could harm baby if she tries to breathe in the water as she leaves the birth canal. Healthy babies have bradycardic response, which signals a newborn to hold her breath under water.

10. Trials have shown that water births decrease the risk of major perineal trauma or tears and hemorrhage over some more traditional birth positions outside of water. 

Would you consider a water birth?


Image via lincoln-log/Flickr

delivery, homebirth, natural parenting


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jalaz77 jalaz77

I did consider it this time round but our hospital is still revamping the rules of water births and VBACs. It will happen for the hospital but it takes time. We had our last baby a week ago and I labored at home til I was complete, got to hospital and pushed so that was perfect for me. Not bummed that I didn't get a water birth. We are done having babies but of something unplanned came about I would try it. Why not?

femal... femaleMIKE

Yes, I would.  I think my hospital has that option, I will be having an anestheslologist consult  next week andI will ask if that is offered.

nonmember avatar Cass

That brachycardic response exists, but not in the way water birth advocates always use. It is an emergency response to an emergency situation- it's not normal. It's also not limited to stopping breathing- slow heart rate and peripheral vasoconstriction (meaning blood is shunted away from "non-essential tissues". You might not need your liver if you're drowning, but I think babies would generally prefer having all of their tissues as healthy as possible) occur.

Also, this reflex is only reliably triggered in cold water. Your warm and comfy birthing pool? Not so much.

Finally, even this article specifies "healthy" babies have this response. Even normal babies with difficult deliveries can be at high risk for hypoxemia- which severely lessens the likelihood of this reflex kicking in. This reflex is in case of emergency- because babies naturally SHOULDN'T be submerged entirely underwater when they don't have the conscious control to hold their breath. Use the birthing pool for your comfort before your delivery. Don't torture your baby and potentially cause damage because of an unsubstantiated article.

nonmember avatar blh

I agree with the above poster. I'd labor I'm water but not actually push it out in there.

Waiti... WaitingforApril

I used the pool while in labor but by the time it was time to push, I just had him on my bed. I'll have the pool next time too so we'll see what heppens.

Henley16 Henley16

Plus this is only 9 reasons. 6 and 7 are the same.. 

Serab... Serabelle

I had a friend who was dead set on water birth, until the time came. When she was in labor and got into the pool she said it was the most disgusting thing she's ever experienced, sitting in water with amniotic fluid, and all the other fun fluids of child birth. She told me after 5 min the disgusting feeling she had overwhelmed her so much that she had to get out, and insisted on a shower while in labor (around 7cm I believe). She's not normally a clean freak either, but that was her reaction. After hearing about her experience, plus the fact that only birthing centers near me offer this, I won't consider it. I want to be in a hospital in case any unexpected emergencies come up, or even just meconium (sp?) In the fluid. I am just not comfortable even remotely risking any issues with birth. I know women have been doing in unaccompanied for all of human history, but a lot of women used to die. For me personally, I wouldn't consider this, but to each their own!

nonmember avatar Anna

I gave birth in the water five months ago and it was fantastic. I had planned to just labour in the water, but it was so comfortable that I stayed in the tub. No drugs required and no tearing. So much better than my first experience in a hospital, induced, with epidural. Not for everyone, but a great option for me.

nonmember avatar Laura

I had water births at the hospital with both of my daughters. Being in the water helped me to be more comfortable and I also did not tear or need an episiotomy and both of my girls were over 8 pounds. I say to each their own. A healthy baby is the most important outcome, but if someone is thinking about having a water birth I would definitely encourage them to try it.

merry... merrymayhem

I tried a shower and a garden tub during one of my labors, and neither helped but just walking around did.

Also, are you so sure your friend "accidentally" gave birth at home? I've had 2 unassisted births and we did use that excuse sometimes but they were definitely not accidental.

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