Water Baby

With T minus 11 days until my due date, my mind is naturally gravitating toward labor and delivery.

These thoughts abounded the other day while I was swimming laps in the pool, dreaming about the upcoming event and wondering how it was going to all play out.  Swimming this pregnancy has been a godsend in so many ways.  My end-of-pregnancy back pain is at an all-time low, my muscles feel more agile and relaxed, I have less pelvic floor discomfort–much of this I am crediting to swimming.  It is such great exercise!!

It’s not surprising that my body has taken to it so naturally.  As a baby, myself, my mom would have to “rescue” me as I jumped, fearless, into the pool without knowing how to swim.  This later translated into lap upon lap of winter and summer swim seasons, USS meets, and eventually high school swimming.  The water is a safe haven for me.  I feel very much at ease.  My body glides to the rhythm of the strokes and floats with ease almost like an acrobat doing a high-wire routine, but in the water.

I shouldn’t be so surprised that adding water to a pregnancy makes all things better.  But what about delivery?  A water birth?  Hmm…  I can’t imagine a better scenario for me personally, getting to relax in a tub and feel the weightlessness of the water while focusing through the contractions.  Part of me is so tantalized by thoughts of a water birth that I’m a little annoyed I haven’t looked into it sooner.  There’s the other part of me, though, the cautious side, that knows you have to do a home birth if you want to birth in the water.  And I’m not using a midwife, either.  Hospitals are also safety nets in my mind that I’m not willing to be without.

My solution?  I’m planning to crank up our jacuzzi tub during the at-home stages of labor.   Can’t believe it’s taken me five babies to come to this solution.  I will love the chance to birth our baby my way and pass those early, grueling, and oft-annoying hours in the water.  My only fear is that I’ll love it too much, not feel as much pain (who am I kidding?), and head to the hospital too late!!  I can just see the look of panic on my husband’s face as we feverishly drive to get to the hospital…

Oh well.  It will make for a great story, right?!


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  • You’re making me think that I should try swimming for exercise during these last 9-10 weeks of pregnancy! I’ve been avoiding the swimsuit, but who am I kidding, no one really cares what a pregnant lady looks like in a bathing suit 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Kathy

    I swam with all 3 of my pregnancies. Not sure if it makes it easier but exercise and relaxation can’t hurt anyone.

    I know little about water birth, but I thought some hospitals (at least here in NJ) did allow water birth if you brought and set up your own stuff (and probably signed a ton of release of liability forms). Personally, I liked the hospital with the OB/GYN there with all kinds of technology should something go wrong. But I like your combo idea – stay at home in the hot tub and then off to the hospital – best of both worlds.

    Swimming is a great exercise – no matter what.

    Hope you have a happy, easy and safe “Labor Day”.

    Did TexasMommy have her baby yet?

  • Kellie “Red”

    I was able to spend the majority of my birth center labors in the water. Both times, I labored in the water (which really helped me to relax) and then I had an overwhelming desire to get out of the tub before I delivered. Both times, I hopped out and I was 7-9cm, so be careful about hanging out in your own jacuzzi for too long! Although an accidental home birth with Mr. G delivering would make for a GREAT story! And do realize that babies born quickly at home by “accident” are almost always extremely healthy.

  • Kerry

    Swimming! That’s what I need! I totally am aching already and I’m only 25 weeks. I love to swim but have not made the time.

    Best of luck for your at home laboring in water, great idea!!

    Just for your readers out there…I have heard of very few-and-far-between hospitals that will do laboring and sometimes birthing in the water. Someone I know did a water birth in a hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Pretty rad!

  • Juris Mater

    Kellie, I was going to say the same thing. With a 5th birth, I wouldn’t labor at home in the tub unless you’re very open to an accidental home birth. When the water works, it really works–it’s kind of hypnotic and, if it’s working for, allows you to enter a different zone. As you say, Kellie, in that zone, I think you could get to transition pretty soon in the water and have the baby at home or in the car.

  • Anna

    B-Mama, don’t labor at home too long! I just had my third baby (after 2 induced labors with #1 and #2) in the car on the way to the hospital! And I didn’t even labor at home long! You never know what might happen, especially if you’re not feeling too much pain! Good luck with Baby Girl’s arrival!

  • Jeannette

    With my second I had a water birth at a birth center. The midwife didn’t actually let me get into the hot tub until she was certain that my labor was well established. Once I was in, there was no WAY she was getting me out of there. It was wonderful being in there!

  • One who loves you

    Is it safe to languish in water after you loose the mucus plug?

  • Betty

    Wow Anna that is incredible. What an amazing story- to have a baby in the car on the way to the hospital. Unassisted birth is something that a lot of women are considering these days, and it sounds like you pretty much had that very same experience. I understand that when the birth is planned as unassisted, that you can have a really great birthing experience, especially if you plan it as a water birth. Like Laura Kaplan Shanley explains in her latest book titled, “Unassisted Birth,” fear is the biggest reason most women choose a hospital birth over an assisted birth. Your experience proves that women can have babies on their own- it is a natural thing.

  • The bath and shower both help me a ton when I am in labor. I think a key thing about timing is to talk over your births with GG and see whether there is a clear pattern telling you when you should leave for the hospital. For me, the old adage of steady contractions 5 minutes apart still works, once I get to that point, I am within about 3 hours of delivering and should start making my way over so I can get settled in. You have had close calls, though, so you should be careful.

  • Another note, check with your doctor, but I think that you can’t be in the bath if your water has broken.

  • texasmommy

    Both birth centers and some hospitals in Texas (including the one where our first was born) have the option of water births….it definitely does not have to be a home birth. Why do you think that is the case? Your bathtub may be unsafe for sanitary reasons unless you line it, but in the right setting there is no reason why water is unsafe after your water is broken or your mucus plug gone. But if your water breaks on # 5 at home, I would high tail it to wherever you are delivering anyway! I have had one water birth and was in the water for awhile with this one, but it didn’t provide any relief b/c of the baby’s position, so it is not always a panacea, but water births have helped many I know!

  • Kathy

    Congratulations Texas Mommy? When you get a moment 🙂 please fill us in on who your newest member is. Get some rest.

  • Jeannette

    My midwife actually broke my water while I was in the water (because I didn’t want to get out for her to do it on bed). And shortly thereafter my little guy slithered out.

  • The hospital where I delivered in Charlottesville, VA, had some rooms with jacuzzis, I don’t think they would have allowed a water birth but a bath during labor was fine, as was showering.

  • Mrs Gregory

    We had a c/s, then a VBAC in water, then an accidental unassisted birth while filling up our birth tub. 🙂 Just a note: sometimes getting in water in early labor can SLOW your labor. Most midwives don’t want you in water until you are around 6 cm…since it can slow things down. And you can definitely be in water with your mucus plug gone. Regardless of what you do…enjoy!

  • Erin

    This discussion is great and helpful! I had a c/s with my first, an induced VBAC with my second, and really really want to labor at home, in my bathtub and shower with our third, due in july. But, given that I have no established “pattern” of labor, we don’t really know when we’ll have to cut and go to the hosp. With my pitocin birth last time I had a very normal first part of labor, then went from 6-10 cm in 15 minutes, and then had the baby 20 minutes after that. Is “natural” the same as pitocin-induced in that I should anticipate a very quick end to my labor? Or, are we starting totally afresh with no pattern? plus, how do I know when I am at 6 cm and need to head to the hospital? I have planning to be in our tub during my labor though for a while as I want to stay away from the hospital as long as possible.

  • Erin

    MA- I have a friend moving to Charlottesville soon and wants a natural, possibly water, birth experience, but the nearest birthing center is over an hour away in Richmond. What hospital were you at there, and was it natural-friendly?

  • Bethany “B-mama”

    I am wondering where your friend found a birth center in Richmond?! If there was one here, I would probably be having a water birth there!! 🙂 Oh well–I know the hospital where I’ll be delivering DOES allow women to labor in the tub, just not give birth there. So we’ll see!!

  • Erin

    Hey! My friend Andrea (whom you met once or twice at a church function) gave birth there (after laboring in the tub!) in January. It is fairly new– maybe less than a year old? Here is her blog: http://www.vercfamily.blogspot.com

  • Kate E.

    Our hospital here in NJ let’s you labor in the tub, I don’t think you can deliver in it, but I’m not sure. I had midwives assisting me and the have an agreement with the hospital that might be different then standard procedure. Either way like Red I wanted out before actually delivering so it wasn’t an issue.

    Number 2 was born at home with midwives. I labored in the shower this time (decided the bath was too hot, weird laboring complaint since I normally love being in water). If you ever want to chat home-birth give me a buzz. I’m crazy intense about doing it at home, I liked my hospital birth too, but I’m happy to talk about my experience which was lovely.

  • Kate E.

    Hmm, I meant to say “I’m NOT crazy intense about doing it at home”.

  • I was at Martha Jefferson Hospital, I don’t think that it would be water birth friendly, but it is certainly unmedicated birth friendly. I had one totally natural birth there and one induction with an epidural (twins, one of whom was in a bad position). My doctor was Edward Wolanski, he practices with a midwife, I could not recommend him more. He was very low key, even about the twins, and supportive of natural birth. I also used a postpartum doula in Charlottesville, I can find her name if your friend is interested.

    Martha Jefferson is the smaller, private hospital in town. UVA is a big medical school and the large University hospital is a high level trauma center, I would not recommend delivering there unless you have some sort of special high risk situation.

  • Erin, I have had two induced births and they were both pretty similar to my “spontaneous” births except that I think that the earlier pitocin contractions were more painful and more difficult to manage — with a spontaneous labor, you can sort of feel the whole thing gradually ramping up in a way that actually makes a lot of sense. When I was on pitocin, I couldn’t manage the pain from the first contraction, and I was throwing up and other crazy stuff going on. With my natural deliveries, the progression sort of goes like this (the time line is different for everyone, but I think this order of events is pretty accurate, with the exceptions of back labor, poorly positioned baby, etc):

    -first few real contractions and you think, maybe this is real labor, but they are irregular and between 12-20 minutes apart
    -they gradually get a little longer, more painful and more regular (some people never have totally regular), and once they are steadily painful and you have several that are within about 5 minutes and that take your breath away, it is time to go to the hospital
    -when I get checked at the hospital I am usually less than 5cm and very bummed out, thinking, how am I going to do this next part
    -my contractions move up to totally unmanageable and I beg for an epidural, but hopefully my husband or doctor reminds me that if I can just get through it, the baby will be here sooner without one
    -in the next hour I go from 6-10, it is hard and fast, so, I better already be at the hospital at that point. When I say that I am ready to push, the nurse says that is impossible (every time!) , calls the doctor in to check me, and the baby is born 5 minutes later. At least once the doctor almost missed the delivery.

    I tried to walk the very fine line of getting to the hospital just when I needed to but no sooner, and really the 5 minute mark still worked for me even on my sixth delivery. For my 5th, I went too soon, because I had been having those irregular, 12-20 minute apart contractions for two days and I just thought I needed to get it over with — they turned me away and I came back when contractions were 5 minutes apart.

    This time around, I thought about delivering at a hospital a bit further from my home, and the doctor said absolutely not, he wants me close and able to get here quickly.

  • Bethany “B-mama”

    MA, here, here! My labors have played out very similarly, esp. the part about arriving at the hospital and being bummed that I’m only 4-5cm. Labor usually takes off at that point and I progress really quickly and intensely from 5-10 (sometimes within minutes). Looking back on my last labor, I’ll agree that the 5-min apart contractions would be a great time to go in. By the time we were transitioning, the contractions were practically on top of one another. Def. don’t want to get to that point while at home! 🙂

  • BMM

    Definitely second Martha Jefferson hospital. We live in C-ville now and had our daughter in late 2010 there. Very unmedicated friendly (not sure about water birth). I was a VBAC with gestational diabetes and went 4 days post due date – my Ob practice was totally hands off. Let me go into labor naturally and no pressure for epidural. The L/D nurses there (at least the ones I had) were all like doulas – very skilled in different laboring positions and gently encouraged me to keep going when I started to ask for an epidural. Loved my experience. I’ve heard great things about Wolanski too, but my practice was Jefferson OB – a practice of 6-7 OBs. They are fantastic too – all of them. I will note too that several of them are NFP “friendly” (when replying that my husband and I use NFP in response to the Dr.’s birth control question at the 6 week postpartum check-up the Dr. said and I quote “that’s awesome”). I’ve also heard several are willing to dicuss charts.

    Second not going to UVA barring some high risk situation. Excellent medical care, but not natural birth friendly.

  • Betty

    Just realized that I shared the wrong title to Laura Kaplan Shanley’s book.. the correct title is “Unassisted Childbirth.” Sorry for the confusion.