stronger the contraction- the more pain I had, but the more right it felt. Within an hour or two I felt like I had to push. Laboring in the tub made my labor easier- and faster because of my ability to relax.”
Midwives call the tub the aqua-dural. Laboring in water is safer than receiving narcotics, having none of the side effects of decreasing the mother’s level of consciousness or suppressing newborn respiration. According to a 2010 study, 72.3% of women who had a waterbirth stated that they would certainly choose this method, while only 8.7% of women who had a land birth would choose that method of giving birth again (Torkamani et al. 2010).
Should you choose a waterbirth?
Water immersion during labor significantly reduces pain, and causes a reduction in the need for pain medications. It also speeds up labor, reduces cesarean section rates, and increases patient satisfaction with their maternity care. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Nurse-Midwives agree that it is a good pain-relief measure for laboring women. The latest research on waterbirth (2016, Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health) confirms that not only is it safer and easier for the mother to labor in the tub, it is also just as safe for the newborn to be born in the tub.
One mother tells her birth story: “My labor started like gangbusters as soon as I woke up in the morning. Getting in the tub gave me the relief I needed to deal with the contractions. I felt like the contractions were just as strong- stronger even in the tub. However, I was so much more relaxed that I had the feeling of going deeper into a contraction, rather than resisting it. I was able to really commit to the energy of the contraction and move my body the way I wanted. I remember thinking, ‘It felt better to feel worse.’ In other words, the
A dad describes his experience as: “My wife just wanted to be in the water as much as she could be. She was on her hands and knees leaning her head on the side of the tub. It looked very comfortable. When we were in the hospital, and didn’t have access to a tub, she wanted to be in the shower. Clearly water was a big deal!“
Other mothers have described water birth as relaxing, relief, warmth, buoyancy, control, and calming. If this appeals to you then perhaps water birth is the right plan for you and your baby.
About 10 percent of all hospitals and up to 90 percent of birthing centers nationwide offer waterbirth. “The key is to find a practitioner who’s experienced and comfortable with waterbirth.” says Susanrachel Condon, another midwife from HVM. “Many birthing centers/hospitals have a tub and advertise that they waterbirth, but ensure that they actually are comfortable with this birthing tool and make sure it really is an option for you.” The midwives at HVM have assisted many mothers over the years with both laboring and giving birth in the tub.