Depending on where you live, the options for water births may vary. However, many people around the world choose to labour and give birth in water at home, in birth centres, or in hospitals. As you will read below, most of the time water births occur in a pool or tub.
Although very uncommon these days, especially in this area of the world, if you read through history, you will hear stories about women have even given birth in the ocean, sea, or a lake. This is obviously much much less common than a waterbirth at home, in a birth centre, or in a hospital. Despite being uncommon and perhaps many would say unrealistic, it is interesting to hear the history and many stories of waterbirth. If you haven't already, check out Part one of the Waterbirth Series by Bean Family Wellness: What is a Waterbirth? And, the History Behind it.
Giving Birth at Home
When choosing a waterbirth, there are many different types of portable pools on the market to choose from that are specific to water births, for example the Birth Pool in a Box. The Birth Pool in a Box is one of the portable options that is inflatable. Other birth pools on the market have a hard side and bottom. Some even include a water heater or a special lid to hold in heat while the pool is not in use.
If you are planning a waterbirth, many places both rent or sell birth pools, or you can purchase online. Companies like Bean Family Wellness, located in Manitoba, offer birth pools for rent. If you have a local birth centre, doula, or childbirth education agency, ask if they rent out birth pools. Some midwives have birth pools available for use for their clients.
Other than renting a birth pool or purchasing one, some people choose to use children's play pools for their water births. One pool known as the 'fishy' pool is quite popular. When choosing to use a children's play pool for your birth, a brand new pool would be recommended since play pools can grow and harbour bacteria overtime.
Some women who give birth at home and do not have a birth pool, may choose to give birth in their own bathtubs. It is important to note that if you are planning to use a pool that is not created specifically for giving birth in (including the children's play pool option mentioned above), your midwife may suggest a minimum water depth for optimal safety for your baby. So, if you are planning a water birth, you should discuss the type of pool you plan on using with the health care provider who will be attending your birth.
Giving Birth in a Birth Centre or Hospital
Today, more and more birth centres are popping up around the world. This is another popular option for women who want to experience a water birth. Some birth centres use portable style pools, whereas others have special birth pools built in to each room. Depending on where you live, giving birth in water in the hospital may be a possibility depending on the policies of your facility.
Ask your local birth centre or hospital, or your care provider, if you can take a tour of the facility. Ask questions about what their options are for giving birth in water or using water for comfort during labour. If your hospital or birth centre doesn't allow women to actually give birth directly into the water, they may have a tub that you can use during labour instead. For hospitals that do not have tubs for labour or birth, many women find that using a shower during labour can be particularly helpful at coping with the pain and creating a calm environment.
Having a Waterbirth in Manitoba
If you live in Manitoba, there are a few different options if you have your heart set on a waterbirth. Many people who have a waterbirth give birth at home. However, with the emergence of Winnipeg's Birth Centre, more and more people are choosing to have their waterbirths at the Birth Centre. The Birth Centre has beautiful built-in tubs designed for birth that are available in each room.
Outside of Winnipeg, women who want waterbirth usually do so at home with the help of midwives. But, if you are in the South Central region of Manitoba, Boundary Trails Health Centre (located in between Winkler and Morden Manitoba at the intersection of hwy #3 & #14) has been home to many waterbirths under the care of midwives.
In other hospitals in Manitoba, policies are not in place to allow water births to occur. If you are planning to give birth in a Winnipeg hospital, there are options to use water as a comfort measure during labour - either in a birth pool or in their showers. Even if you cannot give birth in the water, water can be a great tool during labour to make it more comfortable, help you relax, and encourage progress.
This article has been written this article for general interest only. I am not an expert in waterbirths nor am I a medical professional. If you are considering a waterbirth, please research this option thoroughly and discuss your plan to birth in water with your partner and your health care provider. This article is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice. You should always forward medical questions on to a qualified health care professional. I have tried to ensure (to the best of my ability) that the information in this article is accurate. If any incorrect information does exist, it is purely accidental. I am not liable for any unintentional mistakes, use, or misuse of the information contained in this article.