Water Births: What is a Water Birth like? Should I think about one?


Image of Water Birth- Your Baby BootyWater births can seem kinda weird when you first think about ‘em. Why in the world would you give birth in the water? Isn’t that just something tree-huggers & hippies do?

But when you actually stop to think about it… And then check out the research. It actually makes a lot of sense.

Hydrotherapy is used all over the medical world, because there are a gazillion benefits for the body. And people love relaxing in baths, hot tubs, going to spas & athletes soak in warm water to help stressed muscles relax after their competitions. So why wouldn’t it be a super sweet spot to birth a baby? Maybe it’s not a hippie thing.

How does relaxing in Warm Water affect my birth?

Warm water improves blood flow to muscles. Water buoyancy takes pressure off of joints & the abdomen, which is clutch because that helps your uterus have more efficient contractions {think faster labor & less pain}. And the Evidence shows just that. Women have less pain birthing in water, have “significantly less need for epidurals”, have “significantly shorter labor” & more.

If you’re a water person and you think about relaxation, or pampering yourself, you may envision a dark, candlelit bathroom with a warm bath, your favorite book, maybe some music playing in the background or total silence….ahhhhh. Same dealio.Why you ask?

Laboring and giving birth in a tub has the exact same effect. Your brain doesn’t distinguish between “oh yeah I’m in labor” and “I need to unwind after a stressful day.” Your brain (and therefore your body) can automatically go into the zen-like, relaxation station. 

When you release tension in your body, it allows your hips and pelvis to open up & expand, which then helps baby to move lower & lower through the birth canal.

Water Births YourBabyBooty.comAlso, being in this relaxed state dials down the adrenaline- which can slow or stall labor. This in turn, helps those endorphins to kick in (endorphins are the good guys who block the pain). That’s why women who labor in water or give birth in water are shown to have shorter labors & experience less pain (Evidence from one study of 3,242 women is here).

Now, if the thought of water always sends you into stress mode- then obviously, waterbirths are not for you. And that’s totally cool, ‘cause you still have a bunch of other options.

But a lot of Preggos are super interested, they keep hearing great things & they at least want to learn more. We keep getting asked, 

“Where can I have a water birth?”. You’ll learn more about the “where can I have a water birth” kind of stuff below. :)

There is so much more incredible & fascinating info on this topic, so we dove head first (pun intended) into waterbirths during an interview with THE world renowned water birth expert, Barbara Harper (she lectures at medical schools, midwifery schools & hospitals all over the world). If you have questions or want more super detailed info on water births… definitely check out our interview with Barbara Harper.

Benefits of Water Birth

  • Mama can get into any position that is comfy for her. 
  • Speeds up labor. 
  • Blood pressure goes down. 
  • Relaxation! 
  • Reduces tearing to the perineum. 
  • C-section rates are reduced. 
  • Allows mamas to conserve energy. 
  • Mamas report an easier birth experience. 

Drawbacks of Water Birth 

  • Setting up tub 
  • Amount of laundry- towels, etc. 
  • Difficult for provider to protect perineum (mom can do things to protect) 

Where Can I Have a Water Birth?

Water births (though gaining in popularity) are not offered at many hospitals…yet. Some hospitals do have birthing tubs where women can labor in the water but are asked to get out when it’s time for baby to be born.

Most, if not all Birth Centers offer water births, so if you’re heart is set on one, that’s also an avenue that you could check out. And of course if you give birth in your home, you can easily rent a birth tub or buy one. The logistics are easily manageable. You just need to talk with someone who knows what’s up, like a home birth midwife.

As you’re researching where to have your baby and checking out all your options, call around and see which hospitals or birth centers offer water births. Then find a care provider who has privileges at that hospital or works at that birth center.

If you’ve found a provider who you love (yes, you can LOVE them, they’re out there), but they don’t catch babies at hospitals or birth centers who provide water births (and you’d like one), you can still labor at home in your bath-tub until it’s time to go. (Evidence shows each stage of labor has strong benefits, not just birth). Something is definitely better than nothing!


Water birth isn’t for everyone. If you’re not a water “person”, and don’t associate water or baths with relaxation, then water births probably aren’t for you. You can still get some of the benefits of hydrotherapy by sitting on a birthing-ball under a warm shower.

If you like spas and warm water relaxes you, don’t let the fact that waterbirths aren’t currently “mainstream” stop you from at least checking into them. The most “mainstream” position to give birth (on your back), might be the worst position to be in (read about positioning here).

Bottom line, there is evidence & a growing amount of research showing that waterbirth is safe option with a ton of strong benefits for low-risk women. 

“If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true were really true, there would be little hope of advance.” Orville Wright click to tweet 

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