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The Water Birth Experience

Birthing Alternatives Celana Ahtye


Water Birth Herstory Benefits

For Mommy For Baby

Contraindications Conclusions Resources



WATER is the cradle of life here on earth. Seventy percent of the earth is water, 90% of a newborns body is water, 60% or an adults body is water. Life originated in the ocean more than 3 billion years ago. In the warm seas, the first primal creatures were developed, grew and multiplied.

Our first 9 months of life took place in the womb of waters. Sounds of the oceans waves simulate the blood rushing through the placenta. By observing that moist nature was in the seeds of everything, Aristotle, in the 6TH century BC, concluded water was the first principle of life. It is the most precious of our natural resourcesit maintains life. Waters qualities are innumerable as it holds hot, cold, it conducts, transfers, absorbs temperature and calms the spirit.

The Chumash Indians of California have told stories about women laboring in pools and shallow inlets along the beach while the men of the tribe drummed and chanted. In his nineties, Grandfather Semu, a Chumash elder remembers when he was a boy how women would often go to the beach and labor in shallow water. He also remembers dolphins appearing nearby and staying close to the women until the baby was born. Indian tribes in North, Central and South America as well as the Maoris of New Zealand and the Samoan People of the Pacific have been known to birth in shallow ocean and river environments. Kuhunas, from the Hawaiian Islands state thousands of generations have been born underwater. 5

The first recorded modern waterbirth took place in a village in France in 1805 and detailed in a French medical society journal reporting, through the suggestion of her doctor, a woman who had labored for 48 hours received temporary relief, from her non-progressing labor in a warm bath. After a short time in the tub, the baby came out so quickly that she didnt have time to leave the water to birth her child.

The Tub

During waterbirth, a tub is filled with water between 95 and 100 degrees thats clean enough to drink. Birthing tubs, now available for rent or sale online, should be deep enough for the birthing mother, the midwife or doula, and a spouse to sit in comfortably.

Benefits for Mommy

Less pressure on the abdomen because of the buoyancy promoting more efficient contractions, better blood circulation, more oxygen to baby and mother, equal pressure on all parts of the woman's body.

Safer, more effective and economical than an epidural Pain significantly reduced by blocking nerve impulses of pain to the brain known as the Gate Theory of Pain Study in Canada; 100% women who birthed in water use no pain medication Less use of analgesics and anesthesia

Less use of analgesics and anesthesia Fewer birth canal injuries, vagina, perineum and vulva Reduction of labor length Reduction of episiotomies and painful stitching, water relaxes the pelvic floor muscles Decreases maternal hypertension, high blood pressure

Decreases maternal hypertension, high blood pressure Increases maternal connection over labor and birth environment Increases maternal autonomy Greater mobility for maternal positioning during labor and birth Conservation of maternal energy

Better focus and concentration in water Less blood loss during the birth Deeper relaxation resulting in hormones kicking in


Helps to relieve anxiety and promote focusing inward, as labor becomes more intense Moist air assist better breathing for mother specifically if asthmatic Facilitates a dysfunctional labor by stimulating dilation of cervix Can speed up normal labors, sometimes resulting in less than a two to four-hour birth in total

Many experience more rapid second stage with baby emerging within a few pushes, also known as the 'fetus ejection reflex' (term by Dr. Michel Odent) Effective tool to easing the woman into and through transition to pushing More trust in the process by feeling of weightlessness allows woman to concentrate on letting her body do what it was designed to do Water labor or birth can result in lower adrenaline, (fight or flight response) levels Warm water stops false labor contractions Assists pushing to an easier place


Reaching another state of consciousness where fears and resistances are released or dissolved Sound of water running or the jets on belly or back create more endorphin secretion Clean up is easier with less mess Empowering experience for mother without drugs, no surgical procedure, moving in any position, developing inner strength and power enriching her life forever

Family relationships empowered with mother in less pain; father takes more active role in birth experience resulting in deeper bonding and a more enhanced relationship the rest of their lives Parent-child interactions are enhanced by a positive experience in her body/mind/spirit, less painful, gentle approach in bringing child to the planet

Reduction of Cesareans Mother or father can more readily catch her baby Bacteria is dissipated in water reducing infection to mother


Benefits for Baby

Easier more gentle transition from one womb of water to an external womb of water, weightless, warm, wet and soft Decreased trauma at birth


More blood to baby due to better blood circulation in mother Baby doesn't receive the invasive stimuli to induce breathing, which results in less crying, babies after birth resulting in a calmer, more alert state


More safe than unsafe alternative in childbirth Bacteria is dissipated in the water reducing infection to baby Cord cutting after birth is delayed until it stops pulsating Less problems with breastfeeding after birth Less trauma to mother means less trauma to baby


HIV or Hepatitis - This is at the discretion of the attending medical caregiver. Generally there is no reason to restrict an HIV positive mother from laboring or giving birth in water. Evidence shows that HIV virus is susceptible to the warm water and cannot live in that environment . Proper cleaning of all equipment after the birth needs to be carried out. Herpes - Because herpes is highly transferable, it is advisable not to utilize water as a labor or birth tool. However, you may discuss this with your medical caregiver. 21

There is little known risk of infection to the mother. Water also dissipates bacteria so pathogens would more than likely be weaker in the water. Since the baby is moving downward and out of the birth canal, it does not follow logically that bacteria can travel upward and into the birth canal. A mother is more apt to get an infection from too many vaginal exams; probes, Aminihooks or scalp hooks before laboring in water after her membranes have ruptured. 22

So long as you clean the tub beforehand, use clean water, a new hot water hose and a disposable tub liner (if your tub calls for one,) risk of infection is small. Because the mother and the baby share the same antibodies, there is no risk of the baby "catching" anything from the mother. Note, however, that if the water has been in the tub for more than 24 hours change the water as a sanitary precaution.


Take the time to do the research. This has been a great learning experience for me getting to know the importance of gentle birthing and the healing powers of water. An expectant mother should feel empowered and have control over the birth of her baby.

The birth experience will have a profound impact on the lives of the mother and baby- a positive birth will continue to affect the child in many ways after the birth


Resources ~each of these websites have

their own great links pages~ Check them out!