Photo Credit: Jelena Ardila on Unsplash
**Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional. Do NOT use this article as medical advice. This article is based on personal research, experience and opinion. Please consult a medical physician to see if a water-birth is a possibility for you.**
Before we carry on to the good stuff, I feel it is important for you to know that I have given birth three times. My first child was a heavily medicated birth in a hospital, my second baby was an all-natural water birth, and my third was an unmedicated hospital birth. Just in case you’re reading this like “So, what makes you such an expert?”
I’m still not an expert, but I have experienced three different types of vaginal birth and that’s worth sharing!
1. Less Pain!
One of the most important things to consider during child birth is your pain level. Comparing a water-birth to an unmedicated birth out of water is a no-brainer for me. As soon as I stepped into the nice, warm water and lowered myself in, the pain of the contractions definitely decreased. Don’t get me wrong, the “ring of fire” definitely still hurt, but as far as the pain level goes, I would still chose a water-birth 1000 times over my other experiences. However, every woman, every uterus and every baby is different. This is just my experience.
2. Less mess!
With a water-birth, the clean up was a lot easier than a traditional birth. In a hospital, I can clearly recall having to be cleaned up afterward. After you’ve given birth, the last thing you want is someone wiping down your lady junk. Ouch! Hard pass. With a water-birth, all of your liquids effortlessly go down the drain. If you end up lucky like I did, your water may even break in the tub. I didn’t even know it had broke! That was definitely a lot easier to deal with than having an amniotic fluid flood.
3. Less chaos!
When I think of my hospital birth, a lot of different things cross my mind. One word to wrap all of those memories up: chaos. Those blinding fluorescent lights, several people coming in and out of the room, machine noises, and being so doped up that I honestly couldn’t fathom what was actually happening. With my water birth, the lighting was comparable to candlelight. The only people in the room were me, my midwife and my friend. The only noise aside from my yelling was that of the soothing, quiet music my midwife had on. Furthermore, it is also believed that the transfer for your new baby is an easier one. Imagine: You’re in a dark, wet, warm place for 9 months. Suddenly, you’re pushed through a small hole you barely fit out of, and immediately met with blinding white lights and cold air. Yeah, I would be traumatized too.
4. You might get to go home sooner.
From my personal experience, and friends and family’s experiences, most midwives won’t keep you for as long as an ordinary hospital would. Midwives tend to trust the patient more, and believe that women know their bodies. I liked that I wasn’t treated like I had a disease. With my hospital births, I was put in a nice birthing suite. After the baby was born, I was wheeled to a much smaller room where I was checked on every 6 hours for 3 days. With my water-birth, my midwife had her own clinic that was attached to her home. After my baby was born in the tub the midwife checked our vitals, checked for tears, examined both me and baby, and after that? I carried my baby, in her car-seat, out the door. The night that I gave birth, I think I was there for a grand total of 6 hours.
5. You might be happier about your birth experience.
So, I realize that there’s an intense stigma around postpartum depression. It seems like it’s not talked about enough, and there’s definitely not enough awareness about it. When you think about it, however, it makes sense. Your whole body has changed. You were carrying a baby for 9 months, you gained weight, you gained stretch marks, and your brain chemistry was basically flipped upside down. I was no exception to that.
With my first birth, I definitely suffered from postpartum depression. I honestly believe that the birth experience has a lot to do with that. If you’re on several mind and body altering substances, it makes sense that your body wouldn’t have the natural response that it’s supposed to. Being numb while giving birth, even if I had 4 more kids, is something I would never consider again. I’m sure it affects many women differently. For me, a lot of guilt came with not feeling my birth. I felt so guilty because I did not feel that connection that so many moms talk about. All of it was just a surreal blur. It took me a long time to come to terms with what had just happened to me. I’m a firm believe in “no pain, no gain,” simply because of the differences in aftermaths of my birth experiences.
Okay, now that I’ve went over my own experience, here’s some science to back me up:
Rebecca Dekker, a nurse with a PhD and founder of a project called Evidence Based Birth, explores several case studies and research done regarding water-birth and the different outcomes for both mom and baby. A number of trials have been performed and examined, but unfortunately, not enough to be 100% certain which is better. Again, this is why it’s important to consult your physician.
However, some studies do suggest that a water-birth can prove to be beneficial. Rebecca Dekker was able to come up with a list of “potential benefits” of a water-birth. The list is as follows:
- Less pain and higher satisfaction with the overall birth experience
- Less medications are used during birth (Important for those needing or wanting to avoid medication)
- Less use of artificial oxytocin, (AKA Pitocin) thus possibly a shorter labor
- Lower rates of episiotomy
- Lower rates of postpartum hemorrhage
It is important to make an educated, informed decision. Please do your own research to decide what is right for you and your baby. You can find the article that I’ve used here.