The only good thing about a water birth is the pictures. At least, that rang true for me. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty—any way you look at it, childbirth is not fun. For those of us who want or have to do childbirth naturally, it can be even worse. Because of my severe scoliosis, I knew that I wanted to give birth without medication to reduce the risks for myself. Knowing that childbirth is a huge pain, I also knew that I wanted some sort of natural relief. Which is why I chose to have a water birth.
Yes, that sort of water birth. The water birth in the perfect birthing tub with the gorgeous black and white photos and the blissful mom who doesn’t feel any pain. That was the birth I wanted. And to get that birth, I did everything right. I exercised, ate healthy, even shoved down upwards of ten dates a day because hey, wasn’t that what Mary did in the stable with Jesus? I also did my water birth in a hospital, with a midwife, so that it was safe for both me and my baby.
What the hospital didn’t tell me (or maybe they did in the millions of papers I had to sign) was that to reduce the risk of your baby contracting pneumonia, there’s no frigid waters allowed. In fact, the water must be meticulously controlled and heated. So, imagine in the dead heat of summer, already sweating from contractions, willingly going into a 98F hot tub. Sounds soothing, right? Wrong!
For those who haven’t been through it, childbirth makes you feel like you’re walking through Hell. You’re hot and sweaty and nowhere near ready to go into a jacuzzi. Honestly, it was the worst. Water is as freeing as ever, but I felt constricted in the tub. There wasn’t enough room to move around, and when you’re having a baby unmedicated, you want to move around! Plus, it was so hot that I was nauseous the entire time. When it came time to push, I just wanted to get out of the water. So, pushing as fast and hard as I possibly could (which, let’s not talk about the repercussions of that), my baby finally came into the world. She was as cute as a button and I was so in love.
But, sitting in a tub full of bloody water? Again, not so much. And then thinking, “Wow, my child is literally sitting in a pool of diluted blood right now,” really does a lot for the new-mom nerves. I then had to get out of the water to be sewn up, so I was covered in dried blood-tinged water for the next few hours. Yeah, no one tells you about that.
My pictures, on the other hand, were great. I loved that I had the water birth and that my daughter came out as comfy as could be. Seriously, she didn’t cry at all and the doctors had to wiggle her foot to finally get her to say something. The water was her haven (and to this day, she is still totally a water baby). What people don’t tell you is that the pictures you have are black and white for a reason. A very red reason. Personally, the whole experience just wasn’t for me.
I felt dirty. I worried my baby was dirty. I also worried with how much blood there was that tub would never possibly be clean again. When I got pregnant again, most people assumed I was having another water birth. Well, the joke was on them because you couldn’t pay me to repeat that.
The next time I gave birth, I still did it without medication. I loved not having an epidural. Actually, the thought of not being able to move my legs while trying to get a baby out still blows my mind. I can’t imagine it. Having a child without medication was great (or as great as it can possibly be when you’re in excruciating pain). However, with my round two, I got nowhere near the water. I gave birth with a Dallas Cowboys football game playing in the background right on my hospital bed. Little pain, no tearing, and still, a cute-as-a-button baby.
When new almost-moms look on Instagram and see those perfect water birth pictures, they are quick to raise their hand for a birthing tub. But, no one tells you what it’s really like. I’m just one person, and I’m fully aware that most people love their water births. But, I’m guessing there are also a lot of people out there just like me who hated it. It’s not for everyone, nor is it the safest choice for most people, but it’s become a mainstream way to bring a child into the world.
If you’re looking to have a water birth, more power to you. I still think it’s a great way to try and reduce the pain you feel. But, maybe plan for a winter birth (cause that’s how having a baby works, right?). Whatever you choose, your child’s birth is going to be one awesome story. But, don’t be afraid if it doesn’t line up with everyone else’s birth experiences either. We’re all individuals, and what’s great for one person, may be the worst for another. So, yeah, water births may look like the best thing ever. For some, they are! Just please don’t make me get into a birthing tub ever again.