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Water Birth for Pain Relief in Labor & Birth

Home Birth, Birth Center or Hospital


Updated April 04, 2014

This newborn baby is being handed to his mother after a home water birth.

This newborn baby is being handed to his mother after a home water birth. The placenta is also separating.

Photo © iStockPhoto

Water birth is increasing in popularity as women realize the amazing pain relief that water can hold during labor and birth. The use of water in labor is second only to epidural anesthesia, without the risks of medications. Water birth is available in all birth settings, including hospital, home birth and birth centers.

Water can be used during labor and birth, though some mothers choose to only use it for labor or birth. Water comes in many forms from showers to tub and even a special birth pool. Many birth centers and some hospitals have specially built in tubs for just this purpose. You can also rent a special tub if your facility doesn't offer a tub or if you'd like a larger space for a home birth.

The use of water can promote relaxation in labor, making it easier to move and flow with labor. The ability to be nearly weightless in the water is also high on the list of why women said that they really enjoyed using water. Many women also said that the pushing phase of labor, second stage, was much less intense in the water.

When a baby is born in the water, it is usually brought straight to the top, either quickly or slowly. What really matters is that the baby doesn't go back under the water after coming up. The cord is still uncut so the baby is receiving oxygen from the cord.

If you think that you might be interested in using water for your labor, be sure to ask your doctor or midwife about the facility where you intend to give birth. If they don't have a large enough pool or tub, consider renting one for your birth. One mom did this and the hospital was so impressed, they paid to keep the tub permanently!

See also: Fetal Monitoring at a Water Birth

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