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During the first stage of labor, many women enjoy immersing themselves in warm water to help with comfort and relaxation. 


"In a waterbirth, the mother remains in the water during the pushing phase and actual birth of the baby. The baby is then brought to the surface of the water after it is born (Nutter et al. 2014)."

Laboring and giving birth in a warm tub, has many comfort benefits for the mother. Most mothers report reduced pain, tension and an increased ability to relax. Some women choose to labor in the water and get out for delivery. Other women decide to stay in the water for the delivery as well. Being in water provides birthing women with privacy and autonomy, while helping them to cope with contractions. The theory behind water birth is that since the baby has already been in the amniotic fluid sac for nine months, birthing in a similar environment is gentle for the baby and less stressful for the mother.

Midwives, birthing centers, and a growing number of obstetricians believe that reducing the stress of labor and delivery will reduce fetal complications. Water birth should always occur under the supervision of a qualified health care provider.

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Midwife Sherry Hopkins assisting family during water birth


In their responses, the majority of women described their waterbirth as “quite pleasurable” or “very pleasurable and fulfilling.” Mothers chose waterbirth because it seemed natural, they thought it would be less painful for them and make for a more gentle birth for the baby, and because they wanted a drug-free labor....Most women (81%) were in favor of having another waterbirth in the future.


When asked to describe their feelings when they entered the pool, mothers used the words relaxation, relief, pain relief, warmth, buoyancy, control, and 

calming. When women who had given birth before were asked to describe how their waterbirth was different from previous births, mothers said they felt more in control, and that the waterbirth was more relaxing and less painful. They felt calmer, more satisfied, and many mothers felt their labors went faster in the water.

Waterbirth Survey of 170 mothers (Richmond 2003).

Woman laboring in birth tub
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