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Thursday, 07 November 2013 11:26

Swimming Babies: Your Intro to Water Birth

With the sudden increase in natural births, many families are now interested in the use of water for labor and birth.  You may have heard of some benefits of birthing in the water, but lots have also come to birthing professionals with common fears or myths.  Let’s dive right in and learn about how water can help you have your baby!

What is water birth?  

When babies are born in water that is approximately the same temperature as mom’s body heat, they have been born via water birth.  Moms who cannot give birth in the water can also still benefit from laboring in a tub, so don’t think you’re out of options!

What are the benefits of water birth?

  • Babies spend around 40 weeks living in warm water, so the transition from the birth canal to equally warm water is much less stressful.
  • Laboring and birthing In body temperature water can significantly reduce the pains, pressure or waves that happen during labor, especially during the transition period (the hardest part of labor, from 7 to 10 centimeters.) You can easily change your position in the water or grab on to the side and float your pain away. (Eberhard, Geissbeuhler & Stein, 2005)
  • Being in the water could reduce the time that you are in labor!  Lots of women report stepping into the tub and going from halfway dilated to fully dilated and pushing within one hour!
  • Water birth could reduce the amount of tearing during the pushing phase since the tissues are well hydrated and mom can easily control her pushing with less pain.  It also reduces the chance of an episiotomy that may not be truly needed since a care provider can only access the woman's vaginal region to perform surgical birth methods if she is removed from the water.
  • Water birth can reduce the amount of maternal blood loss.   (Eberhard, Geissbeuhler & Stein, 2004)
  • Babies born in the water tend to be calmer, quieter and ready to breastfeed.

I heard that there can be problems with a water birth, what are they? Are they true?

My baby will drown. Not so.  In a water birth, babies do not drown upon birth, as long as the mom’s pelvis is fully submerged in the water.  Healthy babies have something called a “dive reflex” which keeps them from taking breaths until air hits their faces.  Before they breathe air, they are still doing all of their breathing through their umbilical cord, which should stay uncut until it is white and limp.  A newborn baby’s lungs are still used to inhaling and expelling water for a short time following childbirth. Babies born to both low risk mothers in and out of the water showed no signs of change in health outcome. (Pucek, Pellantova & Vebera, 2003)  Your provider will discuss any concerns that could cause your baby to breathe before they are ready during the prenatal period so you can decide if water birth is right for you.

My baby and I will get an infection if I go to the bathroom in the water in labor. It is true that a mom might have a bowel movement in the water, or that a baby may give off meconium (the baby's first poop) in the water.  However, these are factors that would also be a risk while birthing on a bed, with the possibility of added sources of infection such as gloved hands from a provider or nurse, surgical instruments or instruments inserted into the vagina, such as amnihooks (which artificially break the water.)  It's about weighing the possible risks and benefits for your situation.

You have to have a home birth or birth center to birth in the water. Absolutely not!  While home  or a birth center birth may be a safe option for moms who fit in the low risk category, many hospitals are beginning to offer water birth for natural birthing moms, along with Jacuzzi jet labor tubs for mamas who may not be able to birth in the water, but want the water benefits.

I will HAVE to have a natural birth if I fill up the labor tub!  Again, this is your birth experience! If the baby is not crowning, you still have options.  If you are at home, you could transfer into the hospital to request pain medications.  If you are in the hospital, you can discuss your pain relief options with your provider.   Which leads us to our next common myth...

I can’t labor in the tub if I have an induction, right? This is actually becoming a big obstetric myth, as hospitals become savvy to the benefits of having induced mamas labor actively, whether it’s walking the halls, bouncing on a ball or laboring in warm water, as this can help even an artificially induced labor progress faster with less pain.  I recently attended an induced birth where mama did all of these things.  She began pushing within an hour of getting in the tub!  If you have an induction, you can request waterproof, wireless monitors which will allow you free range of motion.  If this is not possible, there are some other options for monitoring during an induction that can allow you to labor where you’d like.  Ask your care provider if induction becomes a true necessity.

I cannot have a water birth if I am high risk.  This is partially true, dependent on what types of risk are involved.  Some complications that make water birth unsafe might include: full placenta previa (which at term will require a cesarean section for the safety of mom and baby), a situation where mom and/or baby are in measurable distress, maternal illness or disease and other factors which should be discussed with your care provider before birth.  Even in some of these scenarios, it may still be safe to labor in the water with the proper monitoring.

Come armed with information and remember: you are their paying customer.  At the end of the day, you control your care and you are always free to find someone who is more willing to discuss safe options for you and your baby.  Even though a healthy baby is the best thing, it’s also just as important for mamas to walk away from birth with a healthy, empowering experience.

For more information, please visit:


  • Experience of pain and analgesia with water and land births. EberhardJ,SteinS,GeissbuehlerV. JPsychosomObstetGynaecol. 2005 Jun;26(2):127-33.
  • Waterbirths compared with landbirths: an observational study of nine years. GeissbuehlerV,SteinS,EberhardJ.JPerinatMed. 2004;32(4):308-14.
  • Water delivery: a 5-year retrospective study.  Pellantova S, Vebera Z, Pucek P.  Ceska Gynekol 2003 May;68(3): 175-9

 This blog post is not intended to be used as medical advice and is not intended to be taken in place of guidance from your care provider.  Please contact your doctor, midwife or other pregnancy care provider about water birth. This post is based on current medical evidence as well as anecdotal and personal experience.





Published in Birthing Styles
Friday, 14 December 2012 11:23

The Love Story of Donnie

November 2009: It begins with a 21st century version of Love At First Sight. Online chatting leads to hours-long telephone conversations leads to a 500kms round roadtrip leads to an all-encompassing connection, all within 6 days.

A week or so later we have a night in the city together, we talk and spa and listen to music and the Universe tells us that this is Love, capital-L Love.
The next day we wrap ourselves into each other as we watch “The Time Traveler’s Wife” at the cinema. As we leave in separate cars, I weep. The storm rolls in. It feels wrong to be going in opposite directions today.
January 2010: Regular weekend visits each way and daily hours-long phone calls have been great, but just not enough. I cry each time we part, I cry each time we hang up the phone. When we’re apart I haven’t ever felt lonely like this, and when we’re together I haven’t ever felt complete like this.
February 2010: We plan a whole weekend together, to see Mumford and Sons at the Laneway Festival. He books a room, we make dinner plans with friends, we organise babysitters and time off work. Mumford’s are amazing, and the Universe tells us that Love will not betray you, dismay or enslave you – it will set you FREE. And in secret, with the Universe’s blessing, our love-child chooses us and starts his journey.
First week of March 2010: him – “So …. how many days late are you?” me – “LA LA LA LA HANDS OVER EARS I CAN’T HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA LA LA”
Later in March 2010: me, with tears flowing : “I don’t know what to do”…. him, with incredible love: “Have a baby with me”.
July 2010: Chaos ensues as two households become one, two different families meld into a whole new dynamic. But there’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be… it’s easy…
July 29th 2010: Dropped from the free publicly-funded homebirth program. Anxious but not shocked. The Universe is pushing me towards a homebirth – if I wasn’t sure before that I needed one, I am sure now. Birthing in a hospital is not an option. There’s nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time, it’s easy!
August 2010: Midwife booked, the serene and inspirational Lisa. Doula booked, the wise and gentle Miradija. We have a homebirth plan in progress.
October 2010: Preparations are in full swing… the Way ahead is Blessed by beautiful friends, the birth pool is delivered and inflated, the urn is borrowed, the surprise Playstation is secretly bought for the children, the nappies are bought, the clothes are washed, the cot, change table, slings and pushers are ready. The birth space is readied by beautiful friends, bringing new energy in our home. And there is movement at the station, gentle and irregular movement. It’s not early labour, it’s just labour. It’s not stop-start or a failure to progress, it’s just labour. Labour is just a series of contractions that eventually push our baby out of my womb. This is the beginning of that labour. There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done. It’s easy!!
November 3rd 2010: Rocky Horror night on Glee. We watch it at Mike’s mum’s house, after a magnificent feast of Roast Lamb and Vegetables, followed by decadent chocolate ice-creams. On the way home, holding hands with my love and silently connecting, and with children sleeping in the backseat, the tightenings become more regular, more pronounced. Every 5 minutes for an hour – excitement building… A text message is sent to Lisa, LOLing that I’m not even sure if this is it, I’ll try to get some sleep, I’ll ring her when they wake me up. I awake the next morning still in one piece. Oh well. Maybe tonight?
November 4th 2010, 2 PM: Curtis and I go have coffee with Aunty Chrissy. Over the hour or so that we’re there, regular and stronger tightenings get me feeling like I should be at home. I get home and tell Mike, we re-inflate the birth pool and start filling it. I put music on, I put my Blessingway necklace on, and begin walking and dancing through the contractions. We boil the urn and pour that in… Mike decides that the urn/pots of water idea won’t work, he needs to go out and buy a water heater…………… so off he goes, and I continue to dance.
November 4th 2010, 5 PM: I text Lisa and Miradija, LOLing that I could be wrong again, maybe I’m jinxing myself, it’s still manageable at the moment and I think maybe I’m subconsciously waiting for the children to go to bed, I’ll text them with updates. I continue to dance.
November 4th 2010, 6 PM: I text Mike, where are you can you come home please. He comes home, without a water heater, LOL! He boils water on the stove and in the urn. He sets up the Playstation. The blonde girl and boy are transfixed by it and forget I’m in the next room dancing. The dark-haired girl seems to know that her life is about to change, she’s about to be a sister. She knowingly holds my hand, and dances with me.
November 4th 2010, 8 PM: Miradija texts me, I reply “yes come now”. I text Lisa “they’re on top of each other come now please”. Miradija arrives and I’m weepy. I feel like I need to pee but can’t, and Miradija suggests a shower might help, so as she begins baking the groaning cake, Mike helps me into a hot shower. It helps a little but not much – I am just sick of standing, I am getting tired and need to recharge. I get out of the shower and make my way to the living room. I strip off and get into the pool……… bliss.
November 4th 2010, 8:45 PM: Lisa arrives. It suddenly becomes quite real to me. I follow my body’s instinctive movements, I breathe, I groan. The cake bakes, the children wander around, the candles are lit, the music is loud. Jeff Buckley.
I am kneeling. I rest, almost asleep, between contractions, floating and trusting and enveloped in love. I go onto my back. I need supportive hands through each contraction. The little children are watching Barnyard in our bedroom. The music takes me away. Fleetwood Mac.
Mike holds me, kisses me, whispers to me, comforts me, follows me. Lisa’s hand on my head. Follow the pain, she says. Go with it. Relax your face. I don’t want to do this. I don’t think I can do this. Come on baby, get out, get out! Relax, breathe, go with it. I go back onto my knees. The pain leads me, and I chase it now. The music soothes me. The Beatles.
November 4th 2010, 10 something PM: Each contraction makes me roar and chase the pain harder now. I feel like I have hours to go. I roar and my body pushes.
November 4th 2010, 10:20 PM: My body pushes. I feel the pressure, I feel the head, my body pushes, the head is out. Lisa says she’ll push the baby towards me under the water and I should pick it up. The Beatles sing “I feel fine”. My body pushes, Lisa guides it towards my hands, I pick up my baby. He’s here, oh my god he’s here. I did do it! I did do it!!
It’s a boy. The cord is around his neck 4 times, tightly, too tight for Lisa to remove. We spin him a few times to unravel his life-rope. He adjusts to being earthside, his father and sisters watching. The water is very bloody, and within minutes I feel more contractions and my body wants to push out his placenta. One big push and it escapes, but membranes remain. Lisa suggests I get out of the pool, carefully, how do I feel, is the blood loss affecting me? I feel fine. I feel amazing! I sit on the couch, Lisa helps with membrane removal, and we gaze at this baby. He feeds. I eat warm cake. We look at the cord, it’s finished its job and awaits our next move. We have a hand-made cord tie, sent by beautiful Honey. Lisa ties off the cord and Mike cuts it. More baby-gazing, more feeding. Daddy snuggles. I shower and we all get into our bed. Lisa and Dija leave about 1:30 AM.
We gaze. We fall in love with him, and deeper in love with each other. We never once regret him. Months ago, we thought this was bad timing, but we were wrong, so wrong. He is here, the first act in this love story.
Published in Birthing Stories
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 12:51

Home Birth Step #11: Birthing Day

 Call your care provider, by this point you will have a great relationship with them and they will help you through it over the phone, putting your mind at ease until they arrive. Have your partner call whoever you were wanting to attend your birth (doula, friends, family, photographer) and if you changed your mind on having people there that is completely okay! Have your partner start filling up your birthing tub (if you are a fast birther, start this early as it takes awhile) or wait until your care provider comes and they will help with that. Keep in mind you can always top up the tub later on with hot water, if the water sits for awhile. This is a way better option than not having time to set it up. In fact if you have an inflatable pool, having it inflated and waiting in those last couple weeks is a good idea.

Make sure that if you are going to have your placenta encapsulated you contact that person so they know to be ready to do that. And remind your care provider that you want your placenta encapsulated so they can make sure that it gets bagged up and placed in your fridge or freezer appropriately.

Go back to: Step #10: Making Your Birthing Space

Go ahead to: Step #12: Postpartum Care

Go to: Birthing Methods Main Menu

Published in Birthing Places

 Some providers will give you a list of items for you to purchase typically a kit that they have set together at specific websites and it’s a one click shopping trip. There are even a few who provide everything from your birthing tub, to post partum products, it will just depend on your care provider.

Things you may want to have:

  • birthing tub
  • post partum pads and/or adult diapers (easily purchased at any supermarket)
  • mesh panties (specialty item found at homebirth suppliers or at medical equipment stores such as or other panties chosen for your post partum bleeding 
  • extra food in the house for snacks for everyone
  • hose to connect from your water heater (or sink)  to your tub (hardware store)
  • hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol to help get any possible stains out (regular grocery store item)
  • heating pad (pharmacy area in your grocery market)
  • small movable stable surface like a cookie sheet or a bowl for the placenta 
  • spare towels: large and small size
  • extra set of clean sheets for the bed
  • shower curtain or plastic to cover the bed (protect the mattress)
  • a large quilt/blanket under the birth pool (to absorb any access water splashed getting in and out)


Go back to: Step #6: Creating a Birth Plan

Go ahead to: Step #8: Should I Take a Childbirth Education Class?

Go to: Birthing Methods Main Menu

Published in Birthing Places

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