Are you considering or curious about water birth?
Did you use water to manage your pain in labour? Do you know where you can rent or purchase a pool locally? I have photographed women using the tubs in hospitals, using pools in their homes, soaking for hours in the huge tubs at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre and using the shower water in the local hospitals. It is a popular option for managing pain and finding comfort in labour.
Although popularized after a highly influential study published in 1983 by renowned French obstetrician Michel Odent, there are known historical accounts of women giving birth submerged in tubs or pools of water dating back to 1805. There are anecdotal stories of women birthing in water prior to that as well, and some ideas about tribal women birthing in rivers, but there is little to no evidence of this.
Today, many women choose to spend at least part of their labour using water as a method of pain relief if they are able to- whether this is having a long shower or soaking in a bathtub. Most Ottawa and Gatineau hospitals have the facilities for this, though it is not common practice for women to give birth in tubs under the care of an obstetrician.
Midwives will often encourage their clients to use water as either labour pain relief or as a place to give birth, and many midwives have taken additional training to become skilled water birth practitioners. The theory behind giving birth in water is that it will not only help the mother cope with her contractions, but that it will also give the baby a more gentle entrance into the world outside of his or her mother’s womb. Since the baby is accustomed to living surrounded by warm, amniotic fluid, unaffected by gravity, being born underwater allows baby an easier transition to extra-uterine life. Michel Odent’s mentor, Frederick Leboyer, proposed that babies who are born “gently”, that is, in a calm, quiet, warm, and dark environment, adapt better and more quickly to our world, and being born in the water is certainly one way this can happen.
If you are interested in learning more, discuss the options with your caregivers, doulas or other women who have used water during birth. There are many local options to learn more and rent pools. (Please contact me if you offer this service and I will add it!)
Or if you'd like to purchase your own personal birth pool there are options too!