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Waterbirth Class!

Last week, Mr. Handsome and I attended our only childbirth class of this pregnancy (because we’re lazy and cheap!), which was our mandatory waterbirth class. I would have taken this one even if it wasn’t mandatory though!

I’ve read two and a half books about this style of birth so far (half because Hey! Who’s Having This Baby Anyway did have a great chapter or two about waterbirth) so I felt prepared even before stepping into the class. The other two books I read were Choosing Waterbirth and The Waterbirth Book.

The Waterbirth Book led me to some great questions to ask in the class (in fact, I think I asked the most questions. I’m that girl in school who tells the teacher he/she forgot to assign homework for the weekend).

Here’s what I found out about our hospital’s policies:

  • It takes about an hour to fill up the pool. The hospital can fill it up before you arrive if you display the right symptoms (contractions close together, in labor for awhile, obviously close to needing the water, etc). They said they’ve never missed a birth because of time, though.
  • Water temperature is not regulated other than by monitoring with a thermometer. So if you’ve been in the pool awhile they might need to take some water out and replace it with new, hot water.
  • The pool is inflatable so if you want something really sturdy to lean on, get your support person or a stool. The water level can be customized so if you want to sit rather than kneel the tub can be more or less full.
  • The best time to get in the pool is when you’re in active labor, meaning more than 5-6 cm dilated. They’ve seen labors slow down if you get in too early. There’s no point at which it is too late to get in.
  • You’d only have to leave the pool if your body temperature goes way up, there are other signs of infection, it appears that meconium is present in the amniotic fluid, you choose to have an epidural or you just plain don’t want to be in the pool anymore.
  • The hospital has waterproof dopplar monitoring so you don’t have to get out of the pool for that.
  • Partners are allowed in the pool whenever you want but they do ask partners to wear a swimsuit (so a naked pregnant lady is no problem but a naked dude or non-pregnant lady, that’s just uncomfortable to the staff. I think that’s funny, but whatever. Mr. Handsome wants to wear a suit anyway but I told him he’d have to be naked out of support. I was kidding… mostly. Pregnant ladies don’t have to be naked but most choose to be. I’m still debating but honestly getting more comfortable with the idea of being au naturale).
  • There’s really no time limit for being in the pool, but some women do get out after awhile because they feel like gravity will move things along more quickly.
  • They prefer you deliver the placenta “on land” but they realize some things do just happen in the water. If you bank or donate cord blood, they ask you to leave the pool so the banking procedure can occur prior to placenta delivery (and it takes 5-10 minutes to get the cord blood collected). You can take your placenta home, too, no worries there (but they did advise to bring a little cooler for it if you want to encapsulate).
  • Mr. Handsome can totally “catch” the baby, most of the midwives are very supportive of this. As long as no special attention is needed and we get a cool midwife on call, he’s going to get to be the catcher this time around!

Also, an interesting factoid: only 40% of the women who choose waterbirth at this hospital actually end up giving birth in the water. Most get out for the reasons listed above (discomfort, infection, epidural, etc).

Birth is unpredictable and I’m trying to remain very flexible with my expectations, knowing full well that I’ve never been in this situation before (laboring in water, that is) and as prepared as I feel I can’t anticipate what’s actually going to happen.

Overall it was a good class, but I feel like the reading I’ve done has prepared me far and above what a 60-minute session with 30 other couples could have done. No regrets, though, since we got all our questions answered. We’re feeling pretty ready!

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