Every birth room at Beginnings Birth Center has a large and luxurious tub, with capacity for over 100 gallons of water. Almost all of our clients use hydrotherapy (shower or tub) at some point in their labor, and last year 63% of our births were waterbirths. Anyone who has ever enjoyed a relaxing bath is aware of the soothing impact water can have on the body and mind. But waterbirth? Oh, my friends, there are so many amazing reasons why birthing in the water can be beneficial for your birthing experience. As Beginnings Birth Center is the only birthing facility in the greater Colorado Springs area offering waterbirths, let’s talk this through…
Waterbirth Benefits – But Why?
There are many benefits gained with birthing in the water compared to birthing on land. Immersion in water during labor provides…
- pain relief
- shorter labors
- ease of changing positions
- a higher rate of vaginal birth
- decrease in significant perineal tears
- greater satisfaction with birth experience
However, I do encourage every birthing family to be open to a change in plans in the event you don’t intuitively feel like laboring in the water is right for you, or if your midwife suggests a different position / location to help labor progress.
Waterbirth Logistics – But How?
I recently had someone ask me what I wore to waterbirths. “Typically scrubs, same as any other birth” I responded. “But no, what do you wear in the water? A biohazard suit? A neoprene wet suit? A regular swim suit?” Oh boy. Let’s start at the beginning…
During labor, the water in our tubs is checked frequently to ensure proper temperature regulation. Typically 92-100° will be most comfortable. We use only plain, warm water as there can be no use of essential oils during a waterbirth; even the most soothing oil could be irritating to a newborn’s skin. Your partner may elect to get in the tub with you, but I as the midwife, do not also hop into the tub. I stay nearby at the tub’s edge, but with feet firmly rooted on land.
Once your baby’s head is born, we take precautions to ensure that their head is either born fully in the water or fully in the air – no halfsies allowed. Your baby will still be connected to the umbilical cord, so she/he will still be receiving a steady supply of oxygen from the cord. After the birth of their body, your baby will be gently lifted to the surface of the water; the feeling of air on your baby’s face is the trigger for the first breath. Given the beautiful and protective physiology of the human body, a waterbirth absolutely cannot “drown” a baby. Your baby will be birthed from water (amniotic fluid) into water (birth tub) into air – breathe. This is also why if your baby happens to be born into air, they should not then be submerged into water. After everyone has had a chance to catch their breath and marvel at the miracle of birth, we will assist in moving mom + baby to the bed to birth the placenta on land.
And now the questions everyone has been dying to ask. “What if I poop during my water birth?” Ok guys, passing stool during any birth is actually very common… most women do. And water birth is no exception. We have single-use colanders we use to keep the water clean. And dilution goes a long way.
For More Reading About Waterbirthing
Evidence Based Birth – https://evidencebasedbirth.com/waterbirth/
Cochrane Review – https://www.cochrane.org/CD000111/PREG_immersion-water-labour-and-birth
American College of Nurse-Midwives Position Statement on Waterbirth – https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=2ahUKEwiq3ZOomdDoAhWVbs0KHVLdARIQFjABegQICxAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.midwife.org%2Facnm%2Ffiles%2FACNMLibraryData%2FUPLOADFILENAME%2F000000000286%2FHydrotherapy-During-Labor-and-Birth-April-2014.pdf&usg=AOvVaw3F9h8M_2Mkgj4vZUJ68Zm1