What is a water birth?
A water birth is when you deliver your baby in a birthing pool filled with warm water. There are many who view this as a gentler way to bring baby into the world considering “that your baby spends nine months floating in the warm and wet comfort of your womb’s amniotic fluid.” (published in What to Expect)
While many hospitals allow for water immersion and other forms of hydrotherapy during labor, few hospitals allow delivery in water as an option, citing possible risks of infections and aspiration. However, there are a growing number of medical professionals who claim these fears are not based in evidence.
A recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan has found that water births pose no extra risk when compared to non-water births. There was found to be no difference in neonatal outcomes, specifically Apgar scores or NICU admissions; while women who birthed in the water were “less likely to sustain a first‐ or second‐degree laceration.” (published in Birth)
Other research shows that those who choose water birth are less likely to use pain-relief medication, and have a greater overall satisfaction with their birth experience. (published in Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health).
As more research is conducted and more studies are released in the United States, we may very well see more hospitals embrace this practice. As it stands, most water births in the US occur at home or at stand-alone birthing centers, the latter of which are usually in close proximity to major area hospitals in case of emergency.
Is a waterbirth right for you?
There are some situations that would likely prevent you from having a water birth. According to the American Pregnancy Association, some of those conditions are: (published by American Pregnancy Association)
*A high-risk pregnancy
*Expected pre-term delivery
Be sure to talk to your medical professional to see if you’re a good candidate! If delivering in water isn’t an option for you, you may still be able to utilize other forms of hydrotherapy during labor to ease discomfort. Besides helping with pain, hydrotherapy during labor was found to have “reduced maternal anxiety and fetal malpresentation” as well as “increased maternal satisfaction with movement and privacy.” (published in the Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing).
“As a doula, based on your experience, do you notice any obvious difference in your clients who do a water birth? (Pain management, recovery, length of labor, etc?)”
“With hydrotherapy as a whole I notice a difference in pain management. I’ve had only one mom have access to a tub, (ultimately chose not to birth in it), but her pain was much more manageable with the tub access. All other clients have utilized other forms of hydrotherapy, like a shower with great success in relaxation and comfort.”
-Victoria Yost (Birth Doula)
options for water birth in Southern maryland
birth center options
Special Beginnings Birth & Women’s Center
Bay Area Midwifery
birth pool/liner purchase
*be sure to speak to your midwife before purchasing any birth pools. They can often help you find a rental.
For at-home water births
Katie Shannon,CNM and Susan Dodges,CNM
Nicole Jolly, CPM
Sacred Journey Birthing Services
Dianne Seller, CPM
College Park Homebirth
Jennifer Argueta, CNM
***as always, be sure to consult with your medical professional**
Melissa Suarez Photography specializes in birth and documentary family photography in Southern Maryland-serving Annapolis, Baltimore and the Washington DC area.