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By Nina, Contributing Writer
When I decided to switch to a home birth with my third child, I knew that I was going to have a water birth. Not only did I love the benefits I’d read about water birth, but I already looked to water for soothing the aches and pains that accompanied my pregnancies. Even if I wasn’t planning a water birth, I probably would have ended up in the water at some point during labor anyway.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of a water birth, there are a few things to keep in mind before you’re baby is born. Here are some tips and steps to take to ensure you’re prepared for your water birth:
1. Determine if it’s right for you
As a person who gravitates to water for comfort, a water birth was a natural choice for me. However, for some, that’s not the case. If you really don’t like the idea of a water birth, don’t plan for one. That may seem like an intuitive decision, but some women may feel pressured into having a water birth because their midwife thinks they’re so great. Or she might feel like she “should” because there are so many benefits. Remember, this is your birth. Do what feels right for you.
2. Find a childbirth professional who does water birth
If you’re giving birth at home or in a midwife-run birth center, this shouldn’t be a problem. Many midwives have been educated about the benefits of water in labor and childbirth and will happily accomodate your desire for a water birth.
If you’re giving birth in a hospital, you may have a little more difficulty. Some hospitals are now allowing water births, and if there’s one in your area, that would be a great choice to ensure you have the birth you want. However, if you can’t find a hospital that allows it, you can always labor at home in the water as long as possible before heading to the hospital or try laboring in the water there. Do your research well ahead of time. (And if the hospitals in your area don’t allow water birth, maybe it’s time to try to change those policies).
3. Gather supplies
If you’re doing a home water birth, you’ll have a few extra supplies to have on hand in addition to your birth kit:
- Birthing pool (this can be a fancy one, like a La Bassine, or an inflatable children’s pool)
- Pool liner (optional, but helps with clean up)
- Water thermometer
- Hose to fill the pool
- Pump to blow up the pool
4. Do a practice run
After you get your birth pool, it’s a good idea to do a practice run to see how it will work out. Maybe you’ll find that you need to move furniture for it to fit in the room where you want it. Or you might decide that you actually want it somewhere else. If your partner is comfortable filling it up ahead of time, it can cut down on some stress that may cause when you go into labor.
5. Have a fill & clean up plan
I don’t suggest filling it up all the way (unless you really want to soak in it), but try putting some water in to see if the sink you plan on using will work. Or to make sure you have all the hose you need. For our last water birth, my husband hooked a hose up to the water source for our washing machine. It was much easier than the adapting he needed to do to get the hose to fit our kitchen sink. This will also help you (and whoever will be with you in labor) figure out how to empty your pool.
Have you ever noticed how animals give birth? They choose somewhere dark, quiet and warm. And for good reason. These elements are important during such an intimate, sacred experience. Ask your partner or doula to make sure the room you birth in is kept nice and warm, with the lights dimmed. Also ask that it stay as quiet as possible (and I suggest asking that no phones come out until after the placenta has been delivered).
7. Prepare, but be flexible
Educating yourself about all of your options is the best way to prepare for birth. I encourage you to attend a childbirth education class of some kind and learn about different positions and comfort measures you can use during labor. Knowing all of your options will also be helpful should everything not go as planned. You may go into labor and find that you don’t want to get in the pool after all. That’s ok. You’ll be prepared to try something else.
What was/has been helpful in preparing for your water birth?
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