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What is Water Birth?

Updated on September 11, 2013
© Elemi | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
© Elemi | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos | Source

Water Matters In Labor.

A water birth is when the laboring mother uses a pool or tub full of water at some point during labor and delivery. Water is one of the best natural pain relievers. Water naturally relaxes the mother reducing anxiety, fear and stress allowing for the mother to produce endorphins which serve as pain inhibitors. Water also provides a sense of privacy allowing the mother to be less inhibited. Thus, encourages her to work with her body and labor rhythm.

How mother's can use water during labor and birth:

  • Submerge in own tub at home during labor and transition to birth place when it is time
  • Submerge in own tub at home and deliver in own tub with a homebirth midwife
  • Submerge in own tub at home and transition to the bed to deliver with midwife
  • Go to a birth center or hospital that offers a birthing tub
  • At hospital or birth center, labor in water and deliver in water
  • At hospital or birth center, labor in water and deliver on the bed

If for some reason a tub is unavailable remember you can still use water. A mother can sit in a shower and allow the water to wash over her like rain. It is not the same a submerging in a tub, but it can also be effective.

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Can Babies Breath Underwater When Born?

Yes. Because babies are still receiving oxygen through the umbilical cord. Before babies are born they are in water, also known as the amniotic fluid. This surrounds and cushions the baby in utero, or in the mother's pregnant belly. The baby does not 'breath' with their lungs in utero, they receive their oxygen and nutrition through the umbilical cord that is attached to the placenta. The placenta gives the baby all it needs to grow and survive from the mother. During labor the baby is usually always delivered first, and then the placenta detaches and is birthed out of the mother.

When babies are birthed in water they are still using the umbilical cord and placenta to breath just like they did in utero. Nothing has changed except for the baby is in water outside of the mother's belly instead of being inside. There is no air in the womb.

The baby does not try to breath until they are pulled out of the water and the reflex to breath happens. Once the umbilical cord is cut and or the placenta detaches and is delivered the baby would not be able to breath under water. At that time they would require continued air for breathing.


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A Midwife Supports Water Births

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Are Water Births Safe?

As long as the mother is healthy and the pregnancy has been uncomplicated, water births are a great choice to labor and give birth.

Water births are not ideal when...

  • You have an infection or fever when laboring
  • You have herpes, because it transfers easily in water
  • You go into labor prematurely
  • Any reason there needs to be continued fetal monitoring
  • Excessive bleeding


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10 Reasons To Birth In Water

  1. Women report contractions are less painful while laboring in water
  2. Episiotomies can be avoided or reduced, as the water softens the tissues surrounding the perineum, making them more pliable and able to stretch
  3. Laboring positions can be achieved easier in the water- squatting on land is demanding, in water the decreased gravity provides an easier ability to squat
  4. Reduces the need for drugs and interventions
  5. Because the body is being supported by the water women get less tired as the body doesn't have to work as hard
  6. Conserves mother's energy
  7. Water birth reduces stress, the surroundings are less medical and more spa-like
  8. Labor itself can be shortened
  9. Enables the woman to have more control of her labor
  10. Transition from the womb to the world for the baby is quiet, peaceful and welcoming naturally

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A Beautiful Home Waterbirth Video

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Water Birth

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Carly Sullens has been trained by Pam England, author of Birthing From Within. Carly is a Birthing From Within trained childbirth educator and doula. Carly used water in her labor with her daughter, and found it to be the one natural coping technique that worked best for her.


© Copyright Carly Sullens 2012. All Rights Reserved.

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Carly beautiful article about water births. I never did have experience with this myself, but during my pregnancies (especially my first) I read up on the different birthing techniques and remember learning much of what you did write here. You truly laid it out very nicely and wonderful resource for pregnant women. Have of course voted up and shared too!!

    • kaiyan717 profile image

      kaiyan717 4 years ago from West Virginia

      These sound good in theory, although I have seen one in person that was quite alarming. I too looked in to this style when I first found out I was pregnant with my first son, but after witnessing it, I did not go through with it, scared the bagejus out of me.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Thank Janine. A lot of pregnant women like to read about different birth options. I hope they consider using water at some point in there labor as a natural pain coping technique.

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Kaiyan, labor and birth can have scary moments. Statistics document that there are no more risks laboring and birthing in water vs. out of water. I am sorry you had to witness something so frightening. I hope mom and baby are OK.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      A close friend of mine as well as my sister in law chose this style of birthing and they both swear by it.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

      Very informative and thorough hub. Voted up and useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I have heard of this type of birthing method, but do not know anyone who has actually given birth in this manner. You have posted the pros and cons well and given readers an informative read and helpful information.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      I've had two hospital births... and if I have another I want it at home... maybe a water birth. Thank you for the great hub and information ^_^ voting a whole bunch!

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      When that time comes, Kim, feel free to call me and I will support you on any delivery you choose.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      Well aren't you the sweetest ^_^

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      I used to be a Birthing from Within childbirth educator and doula.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      That must have been a great experience! I've just found out this week that I'm pregnant again... ^_^ I couldn't help but remember this hub! Now I just have to share it!!

    • Maria Cecilia profile image

      Maria Cecilia 4 years ago from Philippines

      this is very informative and helpful .

    • CarlySullens profile image
      Author

      CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      Congratulations Kim!!! That is wonderful news. Let me know how I can support you from afar. I am a Birthing From Within Chidlbirth Educator and doula.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      Thank you so much Carly... I'm exploring my options at the moment ^_^

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