What sounds better than slipping into a warm bath during labor and letting your body float, relax, and open? How wonderful, too, that this act of soaking in a warm bath actually helps labor progress more efficiently. Just as the heat of a bath helps relax muscles after a day of gardening, the warm water makes it easier for a laboring woman to relax and surrender to the sensations of birth.
All but a few of the hundreds of women who have labored at Bellingham Birth Center have used our tubs at some point during their labors, and about half of our babies have been born in water. It seems to be a more gentle entry for babies and certainly facilitates a more gentle birth from the mother’s perspective, allowing for easier movement, and lessening the chance of a tear. Sometimes, the woman’s partner chooses to join her in the tub for part or all of the process, but this is by no means mandatory – it is just one of the options that our Birth Center offers.
Much more information on water birth can be found at www.waterbirth.org. A wonderful study, done in the UK with 4000 women, compared “land birth” to water birth, showing, incidentally, that water birth speeds labor and reduces perineal tearing. The study can be found here.