My Positive Water Birth Experiences

As a community midwife, we have about a 50/50 water birth to land birth ratio. Even those who do not birth their babies in water often utilize it as pain relief during labor. Water emersion is often called nature’s epidural because, when utilized in the throes of labor, it can genuinely feel like a godsend. If you do not have access to a birth pool, your tub or shower can also be a great way to get similar relief and even a place to birth your baby. Here are some of my favorite experiences with water births.

My First Birth

I had a waterbirth for my first birth. I lived in a studio apartment and was having a home birth. The water felt like incredible relief when I was able to get in. I waited until I was deep into active labor, and that timing was ideal. I remember allowing my body to relax and float between contractions, leaning into my partner as the contraction would build, and allowing the water around me to be a cushion and distraction from the most intense sensations. I ended up birthing my sweet baby girl in the water, and in comparison to my other home land births, I would say that the water creates a cushion and almost mutes the sensations. I loved that my baby did not realize she had been born until I pulled her through my legs and up out of the water to my chest. I remember her being so calm and my midwives telling me that that was how most waterbirth babies are. Snuggling my sweet baby girl in the warm water of our birthing pool was a wonderful way to get to know each other in those first moments of life.

The Waterbirth at a Birth Center

Another waterbirth story I will never forget was a client of mine who was birthing in a birth center. As she was pushing, her baby came out to her head, and then contractions stopped for a few minutes. In between her birthing her baby’s head and full body, the mother started laughing so hard and saying, “She is moving. She is tickling me.” only a few seconds later, her last contraction came. She birthed her baby girl into her arms while crying tears of joy about all they had just experienced together.

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The Supermom

One of my moms, who had previously birthed seven other babies, was having what she thought would be her last baby. She asked for us to be as hands-off as possible and noted that she wanted to be the one to birth her baby into the world. We all sat back and watched her as she did exactly that. This mom birthed her 11lb baby into her arms and slowly brought him up and out of the water. Her baby was the first and only baby I have seen that actually has swimming reflexes, which sounds like the baby is paddling its arms in the water. Two years later, this same mom had a very similar water birth story with her ninth child. She resolved a double nuchal cord (when the cord is around the baby’s neck) and brought her son up and into her arms slowly and gracefully. She is a powerhouse of a mother, and it has been incredible to watch her birth and catch her babies.

The Benefits of Waterbirths

Waterbirth is a beautiful and gentle way to bring a baby into the world. In most cases, the babies don’t realize that they are born when born into the water. It is not until they have the air on their face that they take their first breath. Waterbirth is also a great way to prevent GBS infections, lower high blood pressure, and allow for more oxygenation to get to the baby. The two most significant risks of a waterbirth are aspiration, which is still super low, babies who are born in water have the dive reflex that stops them from breathing until air touches their face and hypothermia, which can occur when a towel is not used to dry baby off, especially on their head. Both are rare but essential to note so that providers know what to look for in babies born in water.

Overall, research has shown waterbirth to be a safe way to birth babies all over the world. Having a care provider who is trained in waterbirth safety is a crucial way to make waterbirth safe. Even if you decide you do not want a waterbirth, water can be an excellent tool for pain relief during your labor. After all, it is nature’s epidural.

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