Birth Options Series – Water Birth At Home

Welcome and thank you for listening!

​​Danielle (37) is wife to Cordy (39) and homeschooling mom to 4 children. Naomi (11) is adopted, Lucas (9) was born in the hospital, Lisa (6) & Noah (4 months) were both born at home. She is passionate about God’s Word, family life, music, home education and home birth. Noah was born in the bathtub, delivered by midwives Margreet & Lisa. Labour started with several hours of irregular contractions, moving into regular, more painful contractions for about 2 hours. After about half an hour in the bath and after a few pushes Noah was born. Noah could breastfeed and midwife Margreet assessed and weighed Noah. They treasured being together as a family, before, during and after the birth of their beautiful son and little brother. 

What about a water birth?

If you are one of the many women who find water both comforting and soothing, then a water birth is a wonderful natural birth option for you. Read up on all the facts below if you’re thinking about having one.  

The water birth checklist

Before you can choose to have a water birth, you need to make sure of the following things:

  • Your pregnancy should be low-risk, and there should be no complications during labour
  • You should also have an experienced water birth midwife or doctor with you throughout your labour 
  • Not all hospitals have water birth facilities and you will need to phone around to find which ones do
  • You may need to hire a birthing pool if you would like to give birth at home 

What to expect

You can choose to use water for pain relief throughout labour and then have a ‘dry’ birth, or you can deliver your baby in water. The relaxing effect of warm water often helps to ease the pain of early contractions; you can choose to enjoy this for a while and then get out again, until labour is more established.

For some women, being in water speeds up labour considerably; this is partly because nature can run its course more efficiently when the mom-to-be is relaxed. Partners are often in the birthing pool right alongside the labouring mom. Baby is born into the water but brought to the surface very soon after birth; he is safe under water right up until the umbilical cord stops pulsating. However, Baby should start breathing in air within a few minutes of birth to minimise the chance of water aspiration.

Is a water birth safe?

There are far fewer risks with a water birth than with a normal ‘dry’ birth if the basics are adhered to, and you are assisted by an experienced water birth professional. 

Research has been done quite extensively, including in South Africa, to evaluate and compare the safety issues of water births and conventional births. The results? The outcomes for newborns in the two groups are similar regarding their temperature, umbilical cord blood pH, haemoglobin and sodium levels, primitive reflexes and neonatal morbidity.  However, the newborns of the water birth group needed less resuscitation at birth than the neonates of the traditional bed-birth group, and their Apgar scores were higher. 

Advantages of a water birth

  • Generally, the water helps to ease the pain 
  • The mom-to-be feels more relaxed, which means that labour progresses more rapidly and Mom’s coping skills are greatly improved 
  • A water birth happens in an upright birth position, which means that your body is assisted by the laws of nature and physics – you don’t have to lie on your back and give birth ‘uphill’, as it were