Natural Childbirth and Birth in Water

Water birth is increasing in popularity as women realize the amazing pain relief that water can hold during labor and birth. The use of water in labor is second only to epidural anesthesia, without the risks of medications. Water birth is available in all birth settings, including hospital, home birth and birth centers.

Water can be used during labor and birth, though some mothers choose to only use it for labor or birth. Water comes in many forms from showers to tub and even a special birth pool. Many birth centers and some hospitals have specially built in tubs for just this purpose. You can also rent a special tub if your facility doesn't offer a tub or if you'd like a larger space for a home birth.

 The use of water can promote relaxation in labor, making it easier to move and flow with labor. The ability to be nearly weightless in the water is also high on the list of why women said that they really enjoyed using water. Many women also said that the pushing phase of labor, second stage, was much less intense in the water.

When a baby is born in the water, it is usually brought straight to the top, either quickly or slowly. What really matters is that the baby doesn't go back under the water after coming up. The cord is still uncut so the baby is receiving oxygen from the cord.

 If you think that you might be interested in using water for your labor, be sure to ask your doctor or midwife about the facility where you intend to give birth. If they don't have a large enough pool or tub, consider renting one for your birth. One mom did this and the hospital was so impressed, they paid to keep the tub permanently!


Natural childbirth is certainly a hotly debated topic. There are those who wonder why with the advent of epidural anesthesia a woman would "martyr" herself by not having pain relieving medications in labor. There are others who aren't sure what they want and go in and try to have an unmedicated birth. And then there are women who know exactly what they don't want - pain relief in labor. Here are just a handful of the reasons a woman might choose to avoid pain medications in labor:

• No Risks to Baby
Many mothers who have chosen to have an unmedicated birth do so because they do not want to assume the risks of medications in labor. They worry over the potential problems that can occur when there is medication involved. So they opt to skip pain medication for their childbirth experience.

 • Unimpeded Labor
Susan was a mom who I worked with for four of her births. She said that she hired a doula to help her avoid pain medication. I asked her why she did not want pain medication. Her response was that she wanted to avoid an unnecessary c-section. She felt that having an unmedicated birth removed some of that risk by lowering the chance that she would need pain medication and other medications, allowing labor to progress normally.

• Natural Mindset
There are many families who believe in doing everything with a natural mindset. This can include healthy eating, avoiding unnecessary medications and generally living a healthy lifestyle. When it comes time to give birth a mother who has followed this philosophy may believe that this is a natural extension of her current lifestyle.

 • Unable to Have Medications
There are also some women who cannot have pain medications for a variety of reasons. They may be unable to have an epidural because of previous spinal injury or other reasons. Perhaps IV pain medications are out because of allergies or even previous addiction issues. These women have no real choice but to find a way to labor without medication.

• Previous Birth Experience
Positive or negative, some women choose to give birth without pain medication because of a previous birth experience. Perhaps they had an epidural previously and were not impressed with the results. Or perhaps they had an unmedicated birth previously and had a great experience and wish to repeat that experience for this birth.