Waterbirth is a great choice for natural childbirth. Water gives supports your body, melts tension and pain away, and helps you push gently and safely. You easily choose a position to push (it's easy to change positions in water), you control how fast and when you push, and your baby is born smoothly so you can pull him or her up to your chest.
Water Helps Women
Water eases discomfort and pain, provides support, and helps remove tension.
When a woman feels pain and fear in labor her instinct is to tighten up. Her body begins to shut labor down so that she can flee whatever is scaring her – a “flight” reflex. Soaking in warm water helps you feel safer and more comfortable, so labor moves smoothly.
When you're free to loosen up and embrace labor you're free to do what you needs to in order to birth your baby. It's easy to move the way you want to. You can change positions easily with the support of the water. You can easily squat – a natural position for laboring and giving birth. You can spiral your hips in an instinctive, timeless birth “dance” many woman find themselves doing naturally.
All these things help your baby move down through the birth canal.
Your husband can usually join you in the birth tub, or support you from just outside the tub.
Water puts even pressure on your body. It not only supports your weight as you labor, it supports your tissues as your body opens for your baby's trip down the birth canal. It provides equalizing pressure on the perineum as the baby's head crowns and is born.
All the support from the water lets your blood to flow freely, meaning that you and baby are getting all the oxygen and nutrients you need throughout labor.
Waterbirth is empowering. You connect with your baby right away and feel energized and empowered by your birth experience. You'll feel good in the days after birth, too – you generally have much less soreness after a water birth!
Good for Baby
Waterbirth is natural for babies. Your baby moves gently from your womb to the water. Water supports your baby as he is born, letting him move easily into a place that feels familiar to him.
Your baby has been in water for 9 months. This gentle, warm water is what your child knows. Instead of being jarred immediately into cold air, you can bring your baby's head out of the water and then ease her body out slowly.
Your blood flows freely, letting more blood to reach the baby. Your baby benefits from this increased circulation. Your baby's cord floats freely in the water, letting the last blood from the placenta to flow smoothly into his body. A waterbirth has the added benefit of ensuring that the cord is not cut right away.
Babies do not start breathing until they feel air on their faces and umbilical cords. With water birth and delayed cord clamping your baby has a gentle transition from the umbilical cord to breathing air.
You can bring your baby right up out of the water and to your breast. Water birthed babies are often peaceful and alert, looking around and checking out their new world.
Many water birthed babies are very calm after birth and don't cry much or get upset. Their gentle transition to life outside the womb allows them to relax and observe. These peaceful babies may also have an easier time getting breastfeeding started.
You can rent a birth tub or use any tub big enough for you to move around in. A guideline is the tub should be big enough for you to be immersed to your breasts or armpits when you sit. (A wonderful resource for waterbirth birth supply and tub options in the USA is Your Waterbirth. If you're looking to hire out or buy a tub in New Zealand Aquabub has birth tubs and accessories.)
You need a source of clean, warm water. A rented birth tub has a heater attached that keeps the water warm. If you don't have a tub with a heater attached, have several pots of water boiling on the stove to replenish warm water as the tub cools.
You need a brand new hose that can carry hot water. You also want a small net. The net allows for easy clean-up of the water after the birth. You'll probably want to have a flashlight and a small thermometer available.
A large tarp or plastic sheet is a good idea for protecting floors from spilled water. Have plenty of clean towels on hand for mopping up spills and for wrapping around yourself when you get out of the tub.
(NOTE: Want Real Mom Tested Techniques for Handling Labor Pain? Use these 11 proven natural childbirth techniques to handle labor and keep things moving right along. Get them here.)
- What does a contraction feel like?
- Pain relief for labor (while your labor keeps moving smoothly and safely)
- How to prepare for a natural birth
Photo by eyeliam