Seven Common Questions about Water Birth |
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Seven Common Questions about Water Birth

elizabeth b. June 26, 2013

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                                                                      Texting my family at 8cm!

When I gave birth to my fifth baby, I decided to utilize the benefits of water birth. After four “land” or “dry” births, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the idea of having my baby in water sounded appealing, especially when I learned that my midwife was supportive of water birth.

 After telling a few family members that I was seeing a midwife and planned to have a home birth, there were some concerns. But there were even more questions when I revealed that I planned to have a water birth. Hearing their questions excited me, as it meant I got to research the topic! The more I learned, the more my mind was set.

 I know that not all women enjoy the sensation of water. But if you’re considering water birth and have concerns about things you have heard, read on.  I asked Anna Marie Tarbet, a Licensed Midwife in Arkansas who has attended many water births, if she could help clarify the top seven questions and concerns that I’ve heard over the years.

1) I heard that laboring in water can slow labor. Is this true?

Not usually. Water often actually speeds up labor. Once a woman gets in the water she can relax and her cervix can open faster. She’s able to move around freely, which helps promote the descent of the baby.

2) If I give birth to the baby in water, will it drown?

No, the baby won’t drown. Babies are grown in amniotic fluid! Once the baby comes to the surface, air touches the skin, which signals the baby’s body to start breathing. Babies born in the water actually adjust more quickly and easily to the outside world, and pink up and breathe on their own better, compared to those who are born out of water. It’s even recommended to keep the baby under water for 5 seconds to promote a smoother transition.

3) Is it hygienic to give birth in water, especially if the mother passes blood, urine, etc.? I’ve heard not to get into a tub of water if my water breaks because of risk of infections. How does this apply to water birth?

One of the most beneficial things about birthing in water is that it dilutes everything, making it unlikely for any infection to occur. Studies have shown that even with ruptured membranes, the risk of infection isn’t an issue. There’s even a reduced risk of GBS, because of the dilution.

4) If the baby or mother needs an intervention, how easy is it to get out of the water?

Most necessary interventions are easily handled with the woman in the water. If a woman needs to get out of the water, the midwife, her apprentice or assistant, and spouse are able to work together to handle getting the mother out of the water easily and quickly.

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5) Can the placenta be delivered in the water? I heard that I can give birth to the baby in water but will need to get out to deliver the placenta.

Different midwives have different protocols. Some feel perfectly comfortable letting the mother deliver the placenta in the water, whereas others feel it’s harder to assess blood loss and other potential complications while she’s still in the water.

6) Does water birth really help with pain?

YES!!!!! Water birth helps a woman relax, which in turn both reduces pain caused by tension, and causes her body to produce pain inhibitors that make it easier to handle contractions and pushing. It has also been proven to lower blood pressure and reduce perineal trauma.

sleeping                                                         Enjoying quiet time together, shortly after birth.

 Forever Memories

It’s said that a woman will never forget her birth experience–how she’s treated and how she feels. I remember details from each of my births, but this baby’s stood out.

Did the water help with pain relief during labor? Yes! The water was amazing. No, it wasn’t completely painless, but I was able to stay relaxed and focused. As I approached transition, I realized that I wasn’t crinkling up my forehead or curling under my toes through each contraction as I had in the past.

And when the baby was born, scooping him up from the water and bringing him to my chest was the most amazing moment of my life. No one immediately cut the cord and whisked him away from me to put him under a warming lamp. I didn’t watch from a distance as someone poked and prodded my brand new baby the moment he was born.

Instead, he remained in my arms, and together we cuddled in the warm water until his cord stopped pulsing. After his cord was cut, we moved onto my bed, where we nursed and snuggled down together for a well-deserved rest and nap.

For more information on water birth, visit Waterbirth International.

 

What about you? Have you had a water birth or do you plan to? What are your concerns? What are you excited about?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Your article makes me wish I would have tried a water birth with one of mine. Great info, Sara Elizabeth!

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  2. I had a water birth with my third. I was a little squeamish about the “ick” factor — did I really want to be sitting in all that blood and body fluids? I decided to try it when my midwife told me that it would greatly reduce the likelihood of a tear (I tore quite a bit with my second). And it worked — only one super tiny tear! I labored on land and got into the tub for pushing…I probably would have gotten in earlier but the water was not ready (I have fast labors)! The immediate post-birth was much nicer and calmer than my previous births and my tail bone wasn’t nearly as sore as after the first two births. Someday if we are blessed with another baby, I plan to birth in water again!

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  3. 4 out my 5 boys were born at home in the water. LOVED it every time. I always say “water is my epidural”.

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  4. I did not have a water birth but I did get to labor in the tub at my birthing center for awhile. And it was glorious. I will be trying that again this time too! The water was so relaxing. Only had to get out if I felt a tad warm or to be checked by the nurse. Can’t wait to labor in the tub again in October!

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  5. I have had seven home births, and the last two were water births. I loved using the water! I did not get in until I was already in transition because my births have gotten much faster along the way and my midwife lived a ways away. But the water brought immediate relief as soon as I got in. The best part for me though was pushing the baby out. Many of my babies have had large heads, and while I never tore, the “ring of fire” was horrible. I literally had no burning in the water. Amazing! Water birth did not make everything painless, but it was so much better.

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  6. My 3rd was born in the water and my 4rth was a “dry” birth. With my next I definitely want to get back in the water!

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  7. I have not had a water birth but I am considering it for this pregnancy (#5)! I am encouraged to have some of my questions answered here and I can’t wait to talk to my midwife about it!

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  8. My last birth (in April of this year) was a water birth and I LOVED! I had many of these same questions but was so very pleased with the experience. I agree: “catching” my own baby in the birth pool was nothing short of miraculous. It just seemed so natural!

    All three of my home births were wonderful, but my water birth topped them all!

    Love this post!

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  9. After 29hrs of labor and only at 6cm I was about ready to give up on a natural birth and I knew from my previous birth that the water was the only thing that could fully relax me. Although I wasn’t able to give birth in a tub the first go around because of the hospital we were at, I did the 2nd at a birthing center and I will never do it any other way unless I just don’t get into the water fast enough! 🙂 Which was almost the case with my 2nd birth.

    It’s an amazing experience and we delivered a perfect baby girl with our Water Birth.

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  10. I had my son in the water and it was incredible! I had one strong contraction out of the water while my cervix was checked, and I thought, “this is why women beg for drugs!”. Once I was back in the water, it was so much more manageable, still intense at times, but do-able, unlike the contraction I felt out of the water, which felt insane! I strongly recommend water to any birthing mama!

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  11. My first was a pitocin induced water birth. My most favorite part of labor was being alone in the bathroom so I could listen to my body rather than hearing the pushy nurse trying to talk me into an epidural I didn’t need or want. Due to some bleeding following the manual breaking of the waters I wanted to shower. The hot water on my back eased the pain as I transitioned and my body told me the baby was down and ready to come out. I mentally prepared to make my move. After this contraction, step out and get the towel on the floor so I don’t slip. Contraction. Go out and tell husband and midwife its time. Contraction. Get in tub. Contraction. If I could have I would have laughed at the midwife who then checked to see I was fully dilated and announced I was right and could push. Three painful pushes and we had our daughter in our arms. I simply love that in trusting my body I could hear and follow fearlessly. I am now in my third trimester with baby #2 and feel even more so that I don’t want the chatter of others around me deciding what my body should be doing but isn’t. I actually fantasize I go into labor and have the baby unassisted at home but know that my husbands nerves and fear won’t allow it. I suppose I better tell the midwife staff to ease off and keep nurses at bay or I just may ask them to leave so I can peacefully observe what my body is telling me. This is natural, our bodies were made to do this!

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  12. […] continue reading, please visit Modern Alternative Pregnancy, where I’m contributing […]

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  13. My hubby and I are planning on water birth for our first baby. In this article, you gave me an insight of what to expect to set our minds on it. Much appreciated!

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