As much as the natural birth community and a million beautifully edited natural childbirth YouTube videos would like to suggest, a water birth is not the “gold medal” of natural childbirth.
Water is an amazing tool for coping with labor. As doulas, we highly recommend spending an inordinate amount of time during early and active labor in the shower, tub or birthing pool. The water and floating helps alleviate the tension and pressure caused by contractions for many moms. An amazing tool for coping has unfortunately been confused with the “best” way to give birth.
Unmedicated and low intervention birth has many benefits to both mom and baby. Having the unexplainable rush of endorphins and oxytocin as you hold your baby for the first time, knowing you have ran the marathon of childbirth and reached the prize at the end, is truly magical. Somewhere, along the way, we forgot that although low intervention is better, it comes in many different variations and none of them are the most natural. They are all natural childbirth.
I have had more than one doula client insist on staying in the birthing pool, despite obvious signs that they are not comfortable in the water, but feel it’s the most natural birth. It is the goal which they have shared with their friends and have watched touted on the videos as the most beautiful type of birth. We have traded one type of forced position and setting for birth for another externally driven expectation or culturally forced position for birth.
Your birth should be an empowering experience based on your needs and wants during your labor. What you believe will be comfortable during waves of labor, may not end up what helps you cope through them. Looking inward to find your perfect type of birth is the goal to reach for during labor. Having the strength and support to make informed, empowered and personal decisions about where to birth, how to birth and what tools you use to cope is what makes your birth experience positive.
Empowered birth comes in all shapes and sizes. As doulas, we support women have their best birth – not just the “natural” water birth we have grown to love in the birth community.