There are many different ways to experience the birth of your child. For a delivery that is intimate and personalized, many people will opt for a water birth. Because this mode of delivery typically takes place at home, adequate preparation and securing resources is your (and your delivery team’s) responsibility. Cascade Health Care explores why people choose water birth, how to properly set up a water birth tub at your home, and in which situations medical professionals advise against an at-home water birth.
Different Reasons People Choose At-Home Water Births
Every person who opts for a water birth may have a different reason for preferring an at-home tub birth over a traditional hospital birth. Some common advantages of water birth that entice mothers with low-risk pregnancies include the following.
- A familiar setting: Waters births can take place in your home or a different familiar setting as long as you can sterilize it. Giving birth at home can make the experience less intimidating and feel much more personal.
- The water’s support: Water birth can promote a smoother birthing process, as the water’s buoyancy makes it easier for mothers to reposition themselves during labor.
- The water’s comfort: Warm bath water creates a soothing environment that can reduce the need for pain medication, as your body will release endorphins to minimize contraction pains and improve blood flow in your uterine muscles during labor. Mothers who prefer a pregnancy free of anesthesia are more likely to favor a water birth.
- Control over the delivery experience: A midwife will have you follow some labor processes at home, but you typically have much more control over your home delivery than when you deliver at a hospital since hospital staff must follow standard procedures.
- Potentially reduced risk of injury: Warm, calming water can help your perineum, the area between your vaginal opening and anus, stretch steadily as you give birth, decreasing the risk of injury in that area.
The Different Resources You Need for a Successful Water Birth
Much preparation and planning go into a successful at-home water birth. Be sure to have these materials at the ready for labor:
- Large towels, washcloths, and other wipes to clean up excess water, sweat, and other bodily fluids.
- Additional blankets or towels to receive the baby with.
- An inflatable birthing tub.
- A floating thermometer to monitor the pool water’s temperature.
- A fetal Doppler to monitor the baby’s heartbeat before and during labor.
- A liner and strainer for your pool to keep the environment sanitary.
- A pail or bowl for if the mother needs to vomit during labor.
Tips for Properly Setting Up Your Water Birth Tub at Home
Learning how to properly set up a water birth tub at your home before going into labor can make you feel much more confident and ready for your due date. If you’re assisting in an at-home water birth, familiarizing yourself with the process of setting up the tub will leave you feeling much more capable and comfortable in supporting the delivery. Once you’ve selected a durable, high-grade water birth tub from Cascade Health Care’s catalog, review our tips for setting it up.
Place your inflatable birth tub in the room where you plan to give birth. Confirm that the floor can hold the weight of the tub when full of water, plus everyone assisting the delivery.
When placing your tub in the room, remain mindful of the surrounding space. You want enough room around the tub so that those assisting in the delivery can navigate the space as necessary. Another aspect you must consider is the room’s proximity to a water source and how you’ll go about filling the inflatable tub.
Set Up a Base
Clean the room you’re putting your birth tub in thoroughly. Remove any items that pose tripping, electrical, or poking hazards.
To protect your floors and make for easier cleanup, lay down a waterproof sheet and thick rug or blanket to make it warmer and cushier. You may also wish to put additional padding under your tub for maximum comfort.
Inflate the floor of your tub first, then the walls. The tub should be firm to the touch, but be sure not to overinflate it. To confirm that the tub inflates properly, do so roughly 24 hours in advance of delivery.
Place Your Water Birth Tub Liner and Fill Your Tub
Fit your water birth tub liner into your tub. The liner’s floor seam should be in line with the edge of the pool floor. Tub liners make for a more sanitary delivery and easier cleanup. Once your liner is secure, you’re ready to fill your pool with warm water. Approximately 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal temperature for water births.
Conditions Where You Should Avoid Having a Water Birth
Doctors will typically only give the go-ahead for at-home water birth to women experiencing a low-risk pregnancy. Below are a few different scenarios in which a water birth is not ideal and may be detrimental to the health of the mother or child:
- Your baby is breech, meaning their feet point toward your birth canal. A baby may end up in a frank, complete, or footling breech position for several reasons: the mother has had previous pregnancies, it is a pregnancy with multiples, the uterus has an imbalanced amount of amniotic fluid, there are uterus complications, and more.
- You’re pregnant with multiples.
- Your child is premature (born before the 37-week mark).
- You have active herpes.
- A medical professional must induce labor.
- You’re bleeding.
- Your baby has passed meconium, the technical term for their first stool, before or during labor.
- You have preeclampsia. Medical professionals often categorize pregnancies with preeclampsia based on sudden high blood pressure in the mother or additional signs that the liver, kidneys, or other organs have sustained damage.
- You’ve previously had a C-Section or prefer one, as midwives cannot legally perform them.
- It’s been over 24 hours since your waters broke.
- Your temperature is high during labor.
- You have other health conditions that put you at high risk for birthing complications.
Of course, if other complications arise during labor at home, you should take your birthing procedure to the hospital. But doctors typically advise people experiencing these health complications against giving birth at home because transporting them from a tub to a hospital during labor can be extremely difficult and dangerous.