I am going through articles I've compiled and updating my students' notebooks since I start a class on Monday. I came across this article that I wrote for a newsletter that another teacher used to publish and distribute:
The first time I heard of water birth was in 1990, when I was pregnant with my first daughter. A friend gave me stacks of past issues of Mothering magazine, and one issue from ’87 had an awesome article on birthing in the sea. The idea seemed so natural, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to fly to the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea to birth my baby. Group Health would have to do. I did use water to labor in, however. The hospital had a Jacuzzi tub, which I was able to use. I was in there for quite some time, as I was going through transition. I was able to relax, somewhat, while in the tub—more so than when I was out of the tub. By the time I got out of the tub, I was ready to push. Twenty minutes later, my daughter, Paige, was in my arms.
After Paige’s birth, I told every woman I knew about how wonderful it was to labor in water. I suggested to my friends that they find a hospital that had a nice Jacuzzi tub to labor in. I knew that water was definitely a great pain reliever in labor, for I had experienced it.
In 2000, I became pregnant with my second child, and we decided on a homebirth. I knew I would use a tub to labor in, and I read about the birth tubs that are available. They are large and sturdy, which allow for more movement within the tub, and there is room for a coach, unlike the Jacuzzi I used in the hospital. As I progressed through my pregnancy and read everything I could on water birth, I decided I would birth in the water just as I had desired in 1990. With this pregnancy, we took Bradley Method® classes. I didn’t realize it as I was taking the classes, but Bradley® and water are a prefect complement to each other.
We rented a birth tub from our midwife, and we had it sitting in our dining room for a few weeks. I was due the end of September, and I went into labor on October 1, 2000 at around 2:30 a.m. Our midwife arrived around 7:30 a.m., at which time Wayne was filling up the birth tub. When I was finally able to enter the tub, around 8:30 a.m. (it was too hot, at first), I entered an entirely different realm, as weird as that sounds. The key to the Bradley Method® is relaxation and the water facilitated that so much better than I expected. The tub was large and the water was chest deep, so I was able to tailor sit in the tub, let my arms float to the top of the water, close my eyes and fully relax. When I had the urge to push, I would float forward into a squat and push, and when I was done, I would just float back into my relaxed position until I felt the urge to push once again. I was calm, relaxed, and quiet for most of my labor. The water enveloped me and soothed me in a way that I have never experienced before or since then. At one point, when my baby was on her way out, her shoulder was stuck on my pubic bone. I was in a squat, but my midwife needed me to change to a more reclined position. With the help of Linda and Wayne, I easily and comfortably switched to the necessary position; this would have been difficult to do out of water, particularly since she was already partway out (my sister thought I was going to sit on my baby’s head!).
Maya was born at 11:06 a.m. She was scooped out of the water and put into my arms. She was wide-eyed, alert and seemed to know exactly who Wayne and I were; she was completely calm and didn’t cry at all. The whole experience was beautiful and amazing. Water birth seemed natural to me in 1990, and ten years later I was able to experience just how natural it is to birth in water. We are borne from water. We are made of water. It is a life source for us. From womb to water to our arms, Maya has always been protected-- and loved.