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Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

Last post 06-01-2011 8:42 PM by Generations. 15 replies.
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  • 04-12-2009 11:22 AM

    Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

    Has anyone here had a waterbirth? I was wondering, from a question someone asked me, why do woman choose to give birth in water? I told them its relaxing. Are there other things about it that I don't know? I always thought that if I were to have a baby I would do it in water, it just seems easier to me. Am I right?

    I also understand each birth in each woman is different so I know answers will vary.

    Thank you :)


  • 04-12-2009 11:37 AM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

    While I was looking around the Midwifery Today article page I found this:

    A Midwife's Perspective: Labor and Birth in the Water

    by Jill Cohen

    © 2001 Midwifery Today, Inc. All rights reserved.

    The benefits of water

    It was late in the evening. I sat staring into the fire, waiting as I often do for the phone to ring. Midwives frequently have a sixth sense about birth, and on this particular evening, my senses proved true—at 10:30pm the phone indeed rang. At first all I heard was the echo of deep breaths and water running. I knew this was labor. Water and labor fit hand-in-hand for most laboring women. The shower or bath warms, secludes and relaxes a woman so she can open more easily at her own pace. It creates a womb-like environment in which a woman can feel safe. It may not take the pain away, but it enables a woman to cope through her intense sensations, relaxed and with least resistance, creating more comfort. Water forms a warm, wet buffer around her, keeping outside forces and interventions at bay. Yet if the woman should need assistance or monitoring it can be accomplished easily in her watery environment.

    I waited for the contraction to pass as I listened intently for the mystery woman on the other end of the phone to finally identify herself. I could tell by the echo that she was in her bathroom, and could tell by the sound of running water that she was in the bath. The tempo of her breath told me I would be heading over soon... as soon as I could ascertain who she was! After her breathing slowed and she paused to collect herself, I heard her giggle a "Sorry!" I knew right away it was my dear friend Hazel. This was her fourth child—I was out the door!

    Summer 2000

    Issue 54

    Theme: Waterbirth


    Laboring in the water

    I walked in to find her children sound asleep and her partner sitting at the edge of their large tub, a glass of cold water and bendable straw in hand to help keep Hazel well-hydrated. Before she could utter a word, another contraction arrived and she went deep into herself. Because water can speed labor along once the woman is over 5 centimeters dilated, and I guessed that Hazel was at least that, I busied myself preparing her birthing room. I then settled into the bathroom with my water Doppler and monitored our little friend. All was well. Hazel needed to pee, so she got out and onto the toilet. Another big contraction, wide eyes and pop went the bag of waters. They were clear and smelled sweetly of baby. It was time to decide where this child would be born.

    Without hesitation, Hazel chose the tub. As soon as she was situated, I heard the familiar sound of relief I hear so often when women sink into warm water. It is music to a midwife's ears, as is the steady heart rate of a baby about to be born. Hazel pushed with the next contraction as she pulled her legs back and sang that magical birth song, low and deep. With that push we saw the baby's head. Two more pushes and the head was born.

    As we waited for the next contraction, we had time to see this little child and appreciate the peacefulness of his/or her entrance. Water is vital to life—we cannot live without it. Its ability to nourish, nurture, propagate and promote life fits so well in the birthing world. I believe that because babies come from a watery environment, when they are born into water it feels familiar to them. Under normal circumstances, babies will not breathe until they hit air. When they emerge into water their house gets bigger, but they still think they are in the womb. This little one was wide-eyed and waiting. It is always amazing to see such peaceful passage.

    Within a few moments, another contraction came and the baby was gently born. Hazel instinctively reached down and brought her baby to the surface. There was no need to suction—this little boy flexed, stretched, yawned and pinked up without even crying.


    Misunderstandings abound about the use of water in birth, such as risk of infection, risk to the baby, and lack of ability to monitor effectively. There is now much research-based evidence to indicate that with proper preparation and protocol the risks are no more than for air birth. So for those women and practitioners who choose water to facilitate birth, go for it! But first, be informed: Investigate what standards should be used. Plan what kind of tub you will use, where to put it, and find your water source. Remember that water is a different medium to work with. Familiarize yourself with it; think about its potentials; imagine its relation to birth. Merge with it and feel its effects.

    For me, the rewards of using water in labor and birth is summed up in that magic sound of relief in a woman's moan as she enters the warm water, and the magic moment as baby comes forth with that peaceful look that tells me the passage has been safe and gentle.


    This answered a lot of my questions but I still want to hear y'alls stories and answers.

  • 04-13-2009 7:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife


    I'm not a midwife, but a sponge for the subject and i had my DD at home.  I didn't have her in water, but i laboured in the bath a good bit.

    My DD was lateral (neither posterior nor anterior) for the last month of pregnancy, and tried to get deeper into the pelvis posterior for the first 12 hours of pre-labour (then decided to go anterior and was born 3 hours later!).  For those hours i had almost constant backpain as her head was digging into my sacrum.  During a contraction her dad or my friend would press on the sacrum and it really helped but in between i hadthis relentless nagging ache that really tired me out.  When i got in the bath it was HEAVEN!  All the muslces slowly tensing up from the pressing on my sacrum inside (as relaxed as i was trying to stay) just melted soft again in the warm water.  It felt fantastic!  I was finally geting real breaks between the contractions and by he time i got out, 3 hours later, i felt properly physically rested and ready to move, which is what helped DD shift into anterior presentation.

    In fact we broke "the rules" by using the bath because my membranes had ruptured at the start of labour (at EDD+11, probably because of the membrane strips i had consented to to try to avoid having a hospital induction) and one is supposed to stay out of the water in that event, but since it was my own bath and not a dirty hospital bath (not that they are all dirty, but i am used to my own bathtub germs!) and my backach was so tiring i decided to go for it anyway.

    When i was in "real" labour it was so fierce (i went from 2cm, 25% effaced at 2.30pm to completing the 3rd stage at 6.24pm) i couldn't have stayed in the water, i needed solidity under and around me to cling to, it was like laying on the shore in a storm!  I'm sure i'd have fought for control if i'd been in the bath still, as it was i tucked up on a trusty chair (leaning over the back of it, and took the seat part out to let my butt hang down in the gap) and hung on while those waves crashed over me.

    So, those are my reasons for labouring in water but not birthing in water.  I can definitely imagine that in a slower labour the water would have comforted immensely :)

    Me 32, DH 41, DD 2006, DD 2010, DS 2013
  • 04-13-2009 11:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

    I had a water birth with my daughter.  I've always turned to water for pain relief and to relax - a bath or a shower helps my migraines and menstrual cramps and feels nice after a hard day.  So it seemed natural to turn to the same thing when in labor.  Once my contractions started to get more intense, getting in the water eased the intensity.  I did get in and out a bunch to use the toilet and labor there for a few contractions and once I'd get back in the water the effect was the same - much easier to handle them!  It was also easier to relax in between the contractions in the water; I could just melt into the side of the tub and I often fell asleep for that short break. 

    I gave birth in the water too, but I can't speak to a difference there b/c it was my first child.  I liked the idea that it would smooth the transition for my daughter to go from warm-water-womb to warm-water-tub, but we didn't stay in the tub long once she was out so I'm not sure if that was the actual experience for her.  It helped support my bulk so squatting was easier to achieve though.

    Em, Momma to Adelh
    Doula and CNM in the making
  • 04-13-2009 3:53 PM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

    Thank you for sharing your stories worstfriend and eadunne. Sounds like warm water really relaxed and calmed y'all down during labor. I'm glad you both had such lovely experiences and thanks again for sharing them with me, they really helped giving me an idea of why so many women choose to labor and/or birth in water.


  • 05-15-2009 1:49 AM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

     hi.  I work out of a primary birthng unit which has 2 of the best labouring/birthing pools i have come across.  I had my second boy in the pool and thoroughly recommend it.  i had PSD, or pubic symphasis dyastis (not sure of the spelling) which meant i had a lot of pain in my back and pelvis for teh last few months of my pregnancy and was on crutches.  Being in the water allowed me a mobility i did not have on land and also the warmth and pressure of the water reduced the pain messages that were coming thru. 

    Most of the mums we work with labour in water and a comfortable number birth in the pools each month.  We have a lot of mums who like the sensation of the water, usually ones who like the bath when not pregnant.  They like the privacy the water gives them, as even if we are discretely checking out thier rear end with a torch and mirror, it's not so exposed feeling for them. 

    Check out for some great articles.  Must sign off, too cold in this room to keep typing!!  Hope tis has been useful

  • 05-16-2009 6:56 PM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

     Our hospital has decided to do a waterbirth pilot project, after about 10 years of lobbying by midwives.  One of the things we have done is "rounds" for pediatricians, nurses, and doctors. 

    The research on waterbirth from the Cochrane database shows that labour in water reduces the length of first stage for primip mothers.  It reduces the need for narcotics and epidurals for all mothers.  There is no difference in instrumental deliveries, cesarian deliveries, apgar scores at 5 minutes, admission to NICU, infection in mother and infant. 

    Cohort studies show the same thing, and there are 31,000+ births in this area. 

    Therefore waterbirth seems pretty safe.  Oh yes.  In Great Britain women have to be offered the use of waterbirth for all normal, low risk, term pregnancies.


  • 06-26-2009 7:02 PM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

    As a midwife, I love having a birth tub available. It really helps women relax and be able to move around easily as well as keeping her space to herself.

  • 11-10-2009 8:49 AM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

     As a mother of five and an aspiring midwife I can attest to the benefits of warm water for relaxation, yet personally have never had a desire to birthn in water.

    For pregnancy #2 I showered for what seemed like an hour at home and then used a hospital jacuzzi tub while laboring, but once I hit the transition phase I wanted no part of the water. I'm also very sensitive to temp changes and even when bathing dread the cooling effect that comes when even after repeated tub refills the hot water tank just simply runs out. So if I'm not submereged to the neck with consistent temp water then I'd rather have a steamy shower. Alternatively cold showers and cool pools are also my friend too. Just give me a consistent temp please.

    Now that I'm passively TTC #6 I'm desiring a home birth but not a pool propped up anywhere in my house. My garden tub seems sufficient. But I like squatting or sitting upright for birth and really believe I'm going to want to hold on to something sturdy as someone else mentioned above.

    Something else Ijust remembered is that I always had a need to be butt naked to birth. Gowns, hair, folks touching me, montitor straps etc... always irrtate me during the final birthing phase. This followed by and immediate desire to be covered in dozens of heated blankies after the descent of my palcenta.

    What I imagine would be magical, would be to birth ocea,side or on the sea shore on a balmy summer day.


  • 11-10-2009 8:54 PM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

     I have had 9 births the first 8 wee in hospitals both vag and c-sections.  Before my 9th child I started studying to become a mid.  I had our 9th unassisted in a water labor but inbetween bathroom and tub she was born on the floor. 

    I can tell you and share about others I have since birthd and myself that the pain is 50% less in a warm tub.  Usually you have more control and are relaxed.  The cons would be long labors in water and reheating water and becoming water logged.  If I could have birthed again I would have all water births.

    May God bless you in your endeavors.


  • 11-27-2009 9:00 PM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

    I've done lots of waterbirths. The people who try them love it! Sometimes the water gets too cold when it takes a long time to birth and they have to get out, but when it works it's great. Anyway, I tell women it should be a labor tool, not a goal. being in warm water, even just a shower or perineal comprass, helps the mom relax, but having her whole abd submerced, really cuts the pressure & therefore the discomfort.

  • 01-06-2010 11:56 AM In reply to

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

     BTW, besides the comfort it allows the mom, it can lower BP, a plus if BP tends to run on the high side of normal, but should be done with caution, if moms BP is on the low side. One does not want mom to get dizzy and maybe faint in the tub when she's birthing! I've never had this happen, but did have one mom getting light headed in te tub, took her BP and it was only 70/50, we got her out and it went back up to 95/ 60, and she was no longer dizzy.  

    For those who battle with keeping their BP low enough through pregnancy, I recomend a waterbirth with epsom salts.

  • 02-26-2010 8:05 AM In reply to

    • DTJay8
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 02-26-2010
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    • Posts 1

    Re: Waterbirth Questions from an aspiring Midwife

    I think and feel that the concept of water birth is very important and valid. If you watch some videos on youtube you can see how much easier the process of giving birth is, for both the baby and the parents. Have you people heard of Elena Tonetti? Ive heard a lot of good things about her and her DVD video "Birth into being" I can only recommend. She even arranges water births at oceans withs dolphins. Thats pretty amazing! Another great resource is Michel Odent.

    All Nature wears one universal grin.
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