Did you know that having a water birth can help you to feel more relaxed and in control while giving birth?
Many women choose to have a water birth, whether that’s in a hospital, birth centre, or in the comfort of their own home. There are many things that go into having a water birth, so beginning the process can feel a bit overwhelming.
There are numerous benefits of a water birth, but some planning is necessary. This guide explains the steps to take when planning a water birth.
Before assuming that having a water birth is a definite option, you need to discuss your desire with your health care providers and determine if it’s a valid option for your specific situation.
If you’re having a birth with normal circumstances there should be no issue, but if you or your baby have certain medical complications it might not be an option for you.
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy, mobility issues, or a history of birthing complications, be sure to reach out to your doctor before moving on to any of the next steps.
Once you’ve established that giving birth in water is a valid option for you, it’s a good idea to do some research about the process and make sure that you understand what it entails, and why women choose to give birth this way in the first place.
One of the biggest reasons why women choose water births is using water promotes physiological labour and birth, less medical interventions, provides pain relief and improves skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
Another reason is water encourages you to change position more easily (that is why the depth of water and size of the pool is important).
Water enhances balancing your pain relief hormones (endorphins) and increases the labour contraction hormone – oxytocin.
Having control and confidence in your birth choice can assist in reducing feelings of anxiety.
Whether you end up choosing a hospital birth or home birth, it’s wise, and might even be necessary to hire a midwife or doula.
This is one of the most important decisions that you will make throughout this process because this is the person that will be responsible for you and your baby.
To find someone, consider using an online directory or asking around for personal recommendations from friends or family members.
Before you make an official decision on anyone, make sure to ask them some key questions. Ask them about their experience, where they received their training, if they have staff that assists them, and if they’re available for your due date specifically. It’s also wise to ask what equipment they provide and what you’re expected to have on hand.
Don’t be afraid to interview multiple people before making a decision. Feeling confident in who you choose will help you as you move on to the next steps in the process.
The use of water for labour and birth is becoming more popular in hospitals within the USA.
If you decide that you’d like to have a waterbirth in a hospital, you still need to make sure that the hospital you’ve chosen is able to accommodate you having a water birth.
Certain hospitals don’t have the necessary facilities to have them. In addition, your specific doctor might not be okay with performing them this way.
Be sure to gather all of the information you need from your chosen hospital and doctors to make sure that there are no hiccups when it comes time to have the baby.
The majority of water births are done at home.
Since you will be at home, you need to make sure that all of the necessary equipment is brought there. You will need to purchase a birthing pool.
Make sure to take measurements of the room you intend to give birth in and make sure the pool will fit and still allow room for the other present people to move around freely.
Finally, check to see if there’s a viable water source available to fill the pool when the time comes.
If you’re choosing to have a home birth, you will need to find a pool.
Having a home birth pool that’s the right size, easy to install, and durable is extremely important. Make sure that you choose a pool from a trusted brand and do proper research before buying it.
The birth pool you choose will have a large impact on your labor and delivery, so being sure to choose wisely is an important part of giving birth in water.
Take the time to learn what positions you will be able to be in while in your birthing pool. Knowing what to expect will make the process easier when the time comes.
You may choose to squat and hold onto the side of the pool for support. Resting on the side of the pool or using floatation aids to support your head can be very useful.
You might even wish to have your partner get in the pool with you. If this is the case, your partner can lean against one of the sides of the pool and you can lean against them.
One of the benefits of water birth is the freedom of movement that a birth pool brings, so don’t be afraid to test out new positions when the time comes and find what makes you feel most comfortable.
Keep in mind that not all tubs are made for giving birth, and choosing a tub or pool made specifically for birthing will make sure that you have the greatest ease of movement and the safest and most comfortable delivery you can.
Giving birth is a complex process, and like any other process, there is a slight chance that there will need to be a change in plans. There are a few reasons that you might need to be evacuated from the pool.
Emergency evacuation from a pool is extremely rare, in most circumstances it is a case of asking another to stand up.
There are only a few occasions when you may either choose or need to leave the water. Your choice may be due to finding the water or room too hot, both of these temperatures are recorded by your health professional.
The temperatures can easily be altered to a more comfortable range. The water depth is most beneficial if at breast to bump level, too high and you may not feel comfortable.
If there is excess blood loss that causes it to be difficult for the midwife to see into the pool, you would need to be evacuated as well.
If any of these circumstances happen, there’s a safe way to remove you from the pool and move on with your birth safely.
After you’ve given birth, your pool can still be useful to you!
One option is to keep it for your next birth. If there’s a possibility of you having another child, decontaminate it and store it for future use.
You can clean it out and use it in your yard as a kiddie pool to cool down on hot days. If you know that you won’t use it again, consider giving it away as a gift. Chances are the recipient would be extremely grateful!
As a last resort, you can throw it away and have peace of mind knowing that the carbon footprint left by the pool is minimal in comparison to other products because of the materials that it’s made of.
Having a water birth is a wonderful alternative that has many benefits. Even so, the process can feel overwhelming at first if you don’t know where to begin.
Remember to start by figuring out of it’s possible for you to give birth in a birth pool and if it is, look into the process a bit more.
Choose your midwife or doula and then decide if you will give birth in a hospital or at home. If you’re opting to give birth at home, choose a quality birthing pool that is designed specifically for water labour/birth.
A child’s paddling pool is not “fit for purpose” due to its depth and robustness.
Once all of those steps are completed, you can dive a little deeper into the process by learning different positions you can be in while in the water, and what could cause you to have to change your plans.
If you would like more information about how to go about choosing and purchasing a birth pool that’s right for you, click here.
During these changing and challenging times I have spent the last few months sharing information about the use of water for labour and birth.
On 29th April, Oxford Brookes University in the UK published a piece titled “Coronavirus COVID-19: Supporting healthy pregnant women to safely give birth” that addresses the questions of birth setting and risks for water immersion in labor.
As a practicing midwife for over 36 years (33 years as a waterbirth champion), I totally understand colleagues concerns about emergency evacuation from a fixed birthing pool either in a birth…