Water Birth Information: Benefits and Risks of Water Birth (2024)

A water birth means at least part of your labor, delivery, or both happen while you’re in a birth pool filled with warm water. It can take place in a hospital, a birthing center, or at home. A doctor, nurse-midwife, or midwife helps you through it.

In the U.S., some birthing centers and hospitals offer water births. Birthing centers are medical facilities that offer a more homelike setting than a hospital and more natural options for women having babies. The use of a birthing pool during the first stage of labor might:

  • Help ease pain
  • Keep you from needing anesthesia
  • Shorten your labor

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which sets guidelines for pregnancy and childbirth care in the U.S., says a water birth during the first stage of labor may have some benefits but delivering your baby underwater should be considered an experimental procedure with risks. The first stage is from when contractions start until your cervix is fully dilated.

Studies show water birth during stage one doesn’t improve your or your baby’s medical outcome.

A warm bath might help you relax and help you feel more in control. Floating in water helps you move around more easily than in bed, too.

Some science suggests that the water may lower chances of severe vaginal tearing. And it may improve blood flow to the uterus. But study results about these points aren’t clear.

Stage Two of Labor: Time to Exit the Tub

Things change during the second part of labor. That’s when your cervix is completely dilated and open and you start pushing until the baby is born.

Many doctors say there isn’t enough information to decide how safe or useful water birth is during this period.

Being out of the water for the second part of your labor makes it easier to move fast in case something goes wrong, ACOG spokesman Aaron Caughey, MD, says.

“If you have to do an emergency C-section, it would be foolhardy to risk an extra 4 or 5 minutes to move you out of the water,” says Caughey, chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Oregon Health and Science University.

Water Birth Risks

Here are some of the rare problems that could happen while water birthing:

  • You or your baby could get an infection.
  • The umbilical cord could snap before your baby comes out of the water.
  • Your baby’s body temperature could be too high or too low.
  • Your baby could breathe in bath water.
  • Your baby could have seizures or not be able to breathe.

“It’s important to emphasize the ‘rare’ part. But these are the sorts of outcomes that are severe, like drowning,” says Jeffrey Ecker, MD, who co-wrote the ACOG committee's opinion on water births.

Are You a Good Water Birth Candidate?

Some factors may keep you out of the running for a water birth. You shouldn’t try it if:

  • You’re younger than 17 or older than 35.
  • You have complications like preeclampsia or diabetes.
  • You’re having twins or multiples.
  • The baby is in the breech position.
  • The baby is premature.
  • You’re having a really big baby.
  • You need to be constantly monitored and it can’t be done in the tub.
  • You have an infection.

Water Birth Precautions to Take

If you’re thinking about a water birth, talk to your health care professional early in your pregnancy to find out if it’s a service the hospital provides. If so, who will manage your labor and delivery? A midwife can assist, but they will need backup from a physician

If it’s not done in a hospital near you, you may have to go to a birthing center or do it at home.

Regardless of where you decide to deliver, having a water birth means you should ask questions about how the labor and delivery are done. Things to look for:

  • You have an experienced, licensed health care professional with doctor backup to help you through the labor and delivery.
  • High standards are kept to ensure the tub is clean and well-maintained.
  • Proper infection control measures are in place.
  • You and your baby are being properly monitored while in the tub as required.
  • There’s a plan to get you out of the tub as soon your doctor, nurse, or midwife says it’s time.
  • The water temperature is well-regulated, usually between 97 to 100 F.
  • You drink water during the birth to avoid dehydration.

Getting into a warm bath too early might slow your labor.

Water Birth Costs

If your water birth is done in a hospital, it usually costs same as a vaginal birth if it’s covered by insurance. You may be required to rent the tub, which may be an extra $200 to $400.

If you buy your own tub or pool for a home birth, it can range between $65 to $500 depending on how fancy you go.

The fees for a midwife or nurse-midwife for a water birth at home will be the same as a normal birth, ranging from $2,000 to $6,000.

If you’re having your water birth at a hospital or birthing center, the midwife’s fee might be included in what you pay the facility, but usually only if they are employed by the hospital. Birthing centers charge between $3,00 and $4,000 per birth.

Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

As an expert and enthusiast, I have a wide range of knowledge on various topics, including water birth. I can provide you with information based on the search results you provided. Here's what I found:

What is a water birth?

A water birth involves at least part of the labor and delivery process taking place in a birth pool filled with warm water. It can occur in a hospital, a birthing center, or at home, with the assistance of a doctor, nurse-midwife, or midwife.

Benefits of water birth during the first stage of labor

During the first stage of labor (from contractions until the cervix is fully dilated), using a birthing pool might have the following benefits:

  • Easing pain
  • Reducing the need for anesthesia
  • Shortening labor

    American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines

    ACOG, which sets guidelines for pregnancy and childbirth care in the U.S., states that water birth during the first stage of labor may have some benefits. However, delivering the baby underwater should be considered an experimental procedure with risks. Studies show that water birth during the first stage does not improve medical outcomes for the mother or the baby.

Water birth during the second stage of labor

During the second stage of labor (when the cervix is fully dilated and open, and pushing begins), there is not enough information to determine the safety or usefulness of water birth. It is generally recommended to be out of the water during this stage to allow for quick movement in case of emergencies, such as the need for an emergency C-section.

Risks associated with water birth

While water birth is generally considered safe, there are some rare risks that could occur, including:

  • Infection for the mother or baby
  • Umbilical cord snapping before the baby is born
  • Baby's body temperature being too high or too low
  • Baby breathing in bath water
  • Baby experiencing seizures or difficulty breathing

    Factors that may affect eligibility for water birth

    Some factors may prevent a person from being a good candidate for water birth. These include:

  • Age (being younger than 17 or older than 35)
  • Complications like preeclampsia or diabetes
  • Carrying twins or multiples
  • Breech position of the baby
  • Premature birth
  • Expecting a very large baby
  • Need for constant monitoring that cannot be done in the tub
  • Presence of an infection

    Precautions and considerations for water birth

    If considering a water birth, it is important to:

  • Discuss it with your healthcare professional early in your pregnancy to determine if it is available at your chosen facility
  • Ensure that an experienced, licensed healthcare professional with backup from a physician will be present during labor and delivery
  • Verify that the birthing pool is clean and well-maintained
  • Confirm that proper infection control measures are in place
  • Ensure proper monitoring of both the mother and baby while in the tub
  • Have a plan to exit the tub when necessary
  • Maintain a well-regulated water temperature (usually between 97 to 100°F)
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water during the birth to avoid dehydration

Cost of water birth

The cost of a water birth can vary depending on the location and whether it is done in a hospital, birthing center, or at home. If done in a hospital and covered by insurance, the cost is usually the same as a vaginal birth. Renting a tub for a hospital birth may incur an additional cost. If buying a tub for a home birth, prices can range from $65 to $500. The fees for a midwife or nurse-midwife for a water birth at home are typically the same as for a normal birth, ranging from $2,000 to $6,000. In a hospital or birthing center, the midwife's fee may be included in the facility's charges, but this varies.

Please note that the information provided is based on the search results you provided and should not replace professional medical advice. It is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance and information regarding water birth.

Water Birth Information: Benefits and Risks of Water Birth (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Sen. Ignacio Ratke

Last Updated:

Views: 5682

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Sen. Ignacio Ratke

Birthday: 1999-05-27

Address: Apt. 171 8116 Bailey Via, Roberthaven, GA 58289

Phone: +2585395768220

Job: Lead Liaison

Hobby: Lockpicking, LARPing, Lego building, Lapidary, Macrame, Book restoration, Bodybuilding

Introduction: My name is Sen. Ignacio Ratke, I am a adventurous, zealous, outstanding, agreeable, precious, excited, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.