How To Have a Water Birth

Many women decide to have a water birth, a peaceful and gentle option for childbirth.  A water birth is a wonderful way to welcome your baby and is available in some hospitals and birthing facilities.  You can also have a water birth at your home, either in your own bathtub or in a plastic pool in your backyard.

The following is some additional information about water births:

  1. Most care providers have strict guidelines and rules about water births. Please discuss these guidelines and rules in detail well before labor so you're not surprised by them during labor. 
  2. Many parents are concerned that their baby will drown in the water.  However, there is little risk of this.  Most babies do not take their first breath until they are surrounded by air.  If your baby is delivered by a knowledgeable doctor or midwife, the risk is minimal. But you should discuss this risk with your care provider before deciding on a water birth. 
  3. A water birth is a natural birth, meaning a birth without pain medicine.  You will not be able to have an epidural or narcotics in the tub.  Narcotics can make you drowsy, increasing the risk of drowning and since epidurals numb you from the waist down, you will not be able to sit up or get into comfortable positions in the tub.  You will have to be prepared with labor coping techniques such as meditation, breathing techniques, position changes or massage.  However, many women find that the buoyancy of water provides significant pain relief without any of the side effects.
  4. Not everyone can have a water birth.  Women with gestational diabetes, herpes, bleeding disorders, a previous cesarean, expecting multiples or with other pregnancy complications may not be able to have a water birth.  However, some care providers will allow you to labor in the tub and get out when it comes time to deliver, depending on your care provider and your pregnancy complication. 
  5. Many care providers will require you to get out of the tub before you deliver the placenta to prevent potential complications.
  6. If you deliver at home, and are in the water for a long period of time, you will have to find some way of keeping the water warm.  If you are delivering in your bathtub, this may not be an issue.  If you are delivering in a birthing tub in your living room or backyard, you may have to add hot water every so often to the tub.

 

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