Water Birth and The Sacred
When looking at water birth, it's important to first look at our connection with water: we have long gone to the water for it's healing and renewing properties. Whether it's been journey's to natural hot springs, swimming in the ocean, swimming with the dolphins, a bath after a long day or a shower when faced with a headache. As humans we have built our lives and our societies around water ways. We have to drink so much of it to stay in optimal health, and lets remember we are basically water with a few organs and electricity thrown in and holding us together! This is why it such an easy transition into water birth when we are deciding how and where to have a natural birth.
Water birth benefits the mother and the baby in numerous ways.The benefit to us mothers are easiest to understand if we look at what taking a bath gives us. When it's been a long day, we're tired, maybe sore or in pain, and we just want to be comforted, many of us go fill up the bath! Birthing in water can give us these same essentials: comfort, support, nurturing and renewal. And all of these are incredibly important when we are desiring a natural birth for ourselves and our babies. When we feel these things our bodies open easier, remember fight or flight? Those are the feelings that we are unsafe and that we must prepare on a primal level to flee or stay and fight for our lives... Well, when we are feeling comforted, supported, nurtured and renewed, our bodies are not experiencing fight or flight, we react very different. We open we receive and give easily, thus we move a baby through much easier!
Water birth also takes the weight off! The water's free gift to us is the unloading and lessening of the pressure and weight. Think of it, when you are in the swimming pool with someone else, you can easily lift them and carry them around, even if they outweigh you by 100-200 pounds! And the water gives us this same gift during labor! In birth, we are anywhere from 10-75 pounds heavier, plus we often feel more awkward, depending on how much weight we are carrying, and being in the water takes this weight and awkwardness and dramatically decreases their role in birth. We often feel freer - in movement and in comfort and the way we feel is going to dramatically influence how the labor proceeds. The freer we feel, the freer the labor proceeds, keeping this in mind is what helps us the most in making our decisions about where and how we go about having a natural birth.
The benefit to the baby is more easily understandable when we consider the transition they are going through. They are in our bodies, in tight quarters, surrounded by water, floating in fluid. Then it's time to exit their safe little home, the uterus is contracting and they are journeying through this strange and very constricted place we call the birth canal. Water birth eases the transition, they are leaving fluid for air and they are leaving our tight quarters for the open world. What a big transition! So with water birth, first they start to exit our womb, and they have more space, and then gently a few moments later they exit the water world into the air world.
What's needed for water birth? There are birthing pools you can rent or you can climb into your own tub! There are two main benefits to a birthing pool, one is they are bigger than the average bath tub, and this is really helpful when we consider that we want to be able to move freely, remember, the freer we feel the freer we labor! So, if we have more space to move around, this is going to provide us with more options. The second benefit is they are clean! So if we decide to use our bathtub at home, we want to make sure it's cleaned with an all-natural, non-harmful product. We don't want to bring baby into a dirty, chemical-ridden place. The other important thing to consider is the temperature of the water. We can have it warm, but not too hot. Just think of those times when we've had a really hot bath, or in a hot tub, we can sometimes come out feeling weak and dizzy because the water was too hot. We don't want to experience this in labor, we want the water to be soothing to our skin, but not making our cheeks red with heat, (birth will be heating us up enough!)
Certainly studies have supported the gifts of water birth, but our decisions needn't be scientific. Natural birth is what our bodies are made to do, but we must listen and respect our bodies desires. We don't need to have a water birth, we need to have a birth that we are comfortable with, that empowers us and nurtures ourselves and our babies. So go within, we can talk with our babies about the experience we want to share with them. Ask them their preferences, wait and listen, we might be surprised at their responses. Then we can check in with ourselves, just because it's a water birth, doesn't make it sacred or gentle. We bring that to the birth, just like we bring it to this moment in this day. We can ask our little one how they would like to share the sacred moment with us? How would they like the transition to progress? And then we can ask ourselves, what's important to me to make our transition, gentle, sacred, comfortable and easy? Spend time contemplating water birth and the natural birth that we are creating. And then create it together. We are interdependent on this experience, our babies cannot do it without us, and we cannot do it without them, and realizing this is acknowledging the sacred of the experience of creating life and of this moment.