Six months ago, our sweet little #3 made her debut. She arrived from fluid-filled womb into the warmth of a water-filled tub before being lifted into the air, where she gasped and then exercised those little lungs with a cry.
As a water birth, hers was a completely different experience than my first two. Though I’d planned an unmedicated birth, I was induced with our first when he was nearly two weeks late. When we discovered that we were expecting baby #2, I again set my heart on a natural birth, but a fluid leak sent me immediately to the hospital for another induction.
So when we discovered news of baby #3, I endeavored to do all I could to bring her into this world via the ebb and flow of natural contractions. I’d delivered my first two with a midwife group that I loved. But when I was forced to switch providers, I chose another reputable midwife group and was thrilled to discover that they offered in-hospital water births. With my curiosity piqued, I began some research.
All the research indicated that a water birth can facilitate a quicker, less painful labor and less stress for the baby. American Pregnancy even states that a water birth can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress-related hormones and increase the production of pain-inhibiting endorphins. To top it off, a water birth is generally considered safe for low-risk pregnancies. After discussing our options with my husband and midwife, my mind was set.
A few days after my daughter’s due date, I awoke early to a contraction. Shortly after a few consistent cycles, I climbed into the tub at our home. The warmth and buoyancy of the water helped alleviate some of the pain. After an hour at home, we headed to the hospital. Almost immediately, I climbed into the birthing tub. Already dilated to a 7, the pain was becoming increasingly severe. As I sunk into the water, I felt a tangible calm wash over me. Ten thousand horses could not have moved me from that tub! Just a half hour after a physical and emotional intensity that I cannot describe, she was born into the water. In total, my labor was a rush of only 2 hours and 20 minutes (what a contrast from a 27-hour labor with my first!). I’ll never know for sure, but I believe the water helped progress my labor, because it helped my body to relax and work with the contractions, rather than fight them.
Our water birth experience was an intensely sacred one. Interested in having your own water birth? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Check out the array of resources available online and talk to your provider. Your provider may or may not support water birth, so you’ll need to find one who does.
- That being said, I delivered with the UNT Midwives at Harris Methodist Fort Worth. Harris has several rooms with tubs but only one has a large birthing tub. If you plan on actually delivering in the water rather than just laboring in the water, be sure to request that room.
- My nurse at Harris was Nita. She was phenomenal in helping me breathe through the contractions and cope with the pain. If you deliver at Harris in the tub, she’s worth requesting.
- If you’d rather deliver outside of a hospital, Beautiful Beginnings and Gentle Beginnings both offer water births at their birthing centers.
- While most of the pictures depicting water births show a smiling mama and clear water, this was not my case. Labor is hard, dirty work. After delivery, the water reflected that. I would have appreciated knowing that beforehand.
- Also know that while the water helps to alleviate some of the pain, it doesn’t negate it. I’m not going to lie, my contractions were still unbearably excruciating! The pain of natural labor and delivery is otherworldly, but the water helped soothe and relax me during the breaks between contractions so that I was better equipped to handle the pain.
What about you? Are you considering a water birth; have you had one? What was your experience?
Shalene Roberts is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom to three little ones aged five and under. Prior to her induction into motherhood, she was a full-time magazine editor. She moonlights as a photographer, relishes the written word and marries the two at Faith&Composition. Hop on over to her little blog to find transparent pieces about gracious homemaking, intentional mothering and natural living, including her popular series on anxiety and how to deal with feelings of failure as a mother.