There’s definitely a lot of stigma associated with water births, and because of that, it’s not something I’d initially planned to do. However, I liked the idea of a more natural childbirth, and reading testimonies from other women really made me feel like it was something I wanted to experience. It was through these birth stories that I began to consider a water birth. I’m someone who loves a good hot bath, which seemed like a much more appealing place to give birth than a hospital bed. So my husband and I found a great birthing center run by midwives, who were very supportive of our plan.
When the big day finally came, I was taken to one of the center’s birthing suites. Instead of a traditional hospital room, these suites have big, comfy beds and a massive private bathroom with a really deep tub. They still have all the medical equipment a hospital has -- it’s just tucked away in the closets and drawers, giving the room a homey feel. I also liked the fact that if anything had gone wrong, there was a hospital right across the street, so I felt very safe.
By the time we got to the room, all I wanted to do was get into that tub. My contractions were coming in intense waves, with very little break in between -- once I got in the water, it was almost relaxing. The water is kept at exactly 98.6 degrees, and you’re almost completely submerged. Don’t get me wrong: When those contractions hit, I could still feel a sharp pain -- but all that pressure I was feeling outside the tub all but evaporated. Even better, in between contractions, I could literally just float and rest up for the next push while the midwives made sure everything was okay with me and baby.
After the final push, the midwife put my daughter Paloma right on my chest and placed a warm wash cloth over her back. Unlike most babies, Paloma let out one cry then quieted down, because she was still wet and warm. It was so comforting in the tub that I don’t even think she realized she was out of the womb!
Once we were out of the tub, I was immediately wrapped in a soft robe -- complete with heating packs to make the transition out of the water less jarring -- and tucked into bed. The midwives were able to do all of the normal examinations of both me and the baby right there, then turned off the lights to let my husband, Paloma, and I get some much-needed sleep. We had an on-call button if we needed something, but otherwise, our new family was left alone to bond.
I’d never try to talk someone into a water birth, but for me, childbirth is something I’ll go through just once or twice in my life, and I wanted to be fully present. A water birth was an ideal way to do so without all the pain of natural labor.