When I was pregnant with my third baby, I was terrified. I was terrified that he would have the temperament of his older brother, my first baby. I was nervous about colic, sleepless nights, breastfeeding problems, and ultimately post partum depression. I was determined to do whatever it took to minimize and potentially eliminate all the problems I had experienced after my previous births. And the research begun.
There were a few things I discovered in my research, including theories about how birth can have an affect on a baby’s temperament, not to mention the mother’s emotional ability to cope with parenthood. This was obviously of interest to me, so I looked in to various forms of gentle birth. After a ridiculous amount of research, I decided to hire midwives and opt for a waterbirth. I was living in Lethbridge at the time, so that meant I would have to travel 2 hours to Calgary and give birth in the birth centre. Luckily, all my family is here anyways, so I just came up and hung out a week before I was even due.
Birthing in water is one of the most gentle ways to transition a baby to the world of breathing. It’s like a middle ground, where baby gets to still be surrounded by water, receive oxygen from the placenta, and slowly rise up to the surface to take their first breath. No cold air immediately, no bright lights, no immediate suctioning, and no manhandling… just nice warm water.
Sometimes water born babies are slow to start breathing and/or cry, which is understandable, as they are just so damn relaxed and chill. But with a pulsing cord, a mamas heart to listen to, and some gentle rubs on their back, they soon realize they are not still in mama’s womb. They calmly open their eyes, take a little breath, and rarely even let out a cry, which is okay. This idea that babies need to come out screaming and gasping for air is a little misguided.
After my third baby was born swimming, I knew that I would never birth another way, and opted for a home water birth with my fourth. I can’t say for sure if it was the waterbirth, or any of the other things I did to support a calm and gentle babyhood, but my water babies were way more calm than my first two. I like to think that the way they were birthed had at least a small role in that.
In 2009 I took the Waterbirth Credentialing workshop with Barbara Harper of Waterbirth International. It was an honour to take that workshop with her, and catch up after initially meeting her at the Gentle Birth World Congress in 2008. Barbara Harper is also the author of Gentle Birth Choices, which I read a lot leading up to my first waterbirth, and I recommend you have a read as well if you haven’t already.
If you would like more information about waterbirths and the benefits (for mom and baby), please read my other blog post on the topic, and feel free to contact me. Also, take a look at the birth pools I have available to rent. I can say from personal experience, that the Birth Pool in a Box is ridiculously comfortable and nice and deep to allow for buoyancy. Whatever the case, I’m always up for chatting about birthing in water and those sweet moment when babies are born swimming.