In early pregnancy, the baby experiences the womb as an ocean of warm amniotic fluid. The size of the watery womb is vast compared to the size of the baby. Gradually, as the baby grows, the amniotic ocean shrinks into mere pockets of insulation around the baby.
During labor, waves of uterine contractions mimic the waves of an ocean swell that arrive gently and infrequently at first, but build in frequency, size and power. The mother and baby ride the waves together to birth the baby.
One can imagine that being born into a pool of warm water may momentarily ease the baby’s transition from the warm, watery womb to the cooler air environment of the extra-uterine world.
Warm water can also be soothing for the mother during labor and birth. Water is shown to be as effective as morphine for pain relief during labor. Warm water may also help the mother’s skin to stretch when the baby’s head crowns.
There are many studies in the scientific literature to prove that waterbirth is safe. Air on skin is the stimulus to breathe. While underwater the baby is not stimulated yet by air and does not draw the first breath until he/she emerges from the water.
There are many birthing tubs available. You can birth in your own bathtub or rent, borrow or buy a tub. One popular tub for sale is the “La Bassine.” It’s constructed in the water and is made for waterbirthing. It costs about $100. http://www.yourwaterbirth.com/labassine.shtml. Other items you’ll need for a waterbirth are a fishnet to scoop out labor debris from the water and a new garden hose to fill the tub. For more on waterbirth and tubs, visit Waterbirth International, www.waterbirth.org/.
Currently, the only options for waterbirthing in San Diego are at home, or at the Best Start Birth Center. Laboring in a pool of water is permitted in some San Diego hospitals (UCSD Medical Center), but no hospitals permit birthing in water.
Let us place the infant, replace it rather, into water!
For the baby has emerged from water, the maternal waters that have carried it, caressed and cradled it. Made it light as a bird…
A bath has been prepared in a basin. At the temperature of the body or thereabouts-ninety-eight or ninety-nine degrees.
We place the child in it.
Once again, extremely slowly.
As the baby sinks down, it becomes weightless, and is set free of the body that is overwhelming it- the body with all its burden of harsh new sensation.
The infant floats. Disembodied. Light. As free as in the early, distant days of pregnancy, when it could play, could move about without restrictions in a limitless sea.
It’s surprise, its joy are boundless.
In its element once more, the infant forgets what it has just left behind: forgets its mother. It has returned inside her
~ Frederick Leboyer