The naivety of your first
Fifteen years ago I took NCT classes and I was sold on a water birth. To be honest I didn’t know too much about it- I didn’t really learn that much about birth in the classes in fairness, but it sounded serene and I love a good bubble bath right?
Four out of the six couples in our class ended up having quite medicalised births. Surely the odds were in our favour that we would be the ones to achieve the dreamy water birth. Sadly, this was not the case (just for the record neither did the sixth couple).
Had I known then what I know now, I would have been the perfect candidate for a water birth at home, but I was young, uninformed and didn’t know how to navigate the maternity services. As a result I started to wonder how many women had actually experienced a water birth- if any? Was it just a cherry to dangle in order to make pregnancy and birth more bearable?- I wasn’t convinced either way.
Nearly a car- park birth
Number 2 came along and to be fair his arrival almost took place in the hospital car park, with me fully dressed and my husband passing out. So in light of the drama surrounding my second birth, I wasn’t as disappointed not to achieve a water birth and after the first, I also didn’t really expect it.
So fast forward to baby number 3- I was anxious about a very quick labour and although I was set up for the newly built White Horse Birthing Centre at GWH in Swindon, I was dubious of whether I’d actually make the hospital, let alone a bath tub.
But I haven’t bought my costume?
We arrived around 3.00am in the morning- literally the same time we did with no.1 and no.2 (it’s funny how your body has birth patterns). I was pleasantly surprised to walk into an extremely calm and serene room- it literally felt like we were checking into a spa, it was that quiet and peaceful. I was asked if I would like the birth pool ready- well I have to admit, I was a bit lost for words, as I hadn’t even considered this. My first response was "what do I wear? I haven't got my costume!" I had come completely unprepared for this type of birth (something we cover in hypnobirthing, which is all about preparation) but I found myself replying "yes please". I was still thinking in the back of my mind- I know something you don’t and this baby may be here very soon.
It was not like the movies- this birth was incredible
So I found myself stepping into a giant, warm bath. Straight away I could feel the heat soothing my cramps and aches. It allowed me to move around freely and feel like I had my own, protected space and although I had my husband and midwife on the edge, it felt very private.
The midwife would routinely run the hot tap to maintain the temperature, which gave me something to focus on. It also distracted from the really quiet room, which in hindsight is a great opportunity for hypnobirthing tracks and other sounds or music which help you to relax- had I known this all those years ago.
I on the other hand, I had my Scouse husband trying to make the midwife laugh, which as his labouring wife was really annoying but I’ve forgiven him now, although I do bring it up regularly.
Benefits of water in birth
I certainly felt more in control in the pool and I was able to deal with the pressure of my contractions through movement and the heat of the water. I also feel that the moment of transition was more gentle and less ‘stingy’ than my ‘dry’ births. I had suffered a lot from tearing from my first birth (again- no preparation at all) but it was something I was very anxious of happening again. I was able to relax properly and therefore I was able to produce lots of oxytocin, which is exactly what your body needs to help you contract.
For those that worry about things floating in the pool- well yes there was blood, but let's be honest, I was in the process of birthing a human being, in comparison to that it was insignificant and reminded me of how amazing my body was. Anything else, I didn’t really notice and by the time you are on your third, it’s really not such a big deal.
Meeting my baby
The moment I birthed his head was truly incredible- he was just looking at us under the water, he looked surreal. I remember the amazement of my husband’s face, asking if he could breathe. The next thing I could remember was holding my baby. That’s nothing that beats a- the relief and b- the pride of how epic you’ve been.
I left the pool to birth my placenta but again knowing what I know now, would have considered doing this in the pool. He was covered in vernix and I although I was thinking ‘oh no another boy, here we go again’, you couldn’t deny how truly beautiful he was and I went home a few hours later to spend lots of hours staring at my baby.
Water birth conclusion
Out of my fourth births- this was certainly the most enjoyable and the one that I felt I was the most in control. The calmest and the most positive. Water births are not for everyone and they are certainly not the only way to have an empowered and calm birth. Consequently for me, my water baby was the easiest and most chilled baby by far and still to this day, is the deepest sleeper (I felt I deserved this though after the challenges of the first two). On the whole, Hugo would be near perfect, if it wasn’t for his terrible aversion to home cooking.