Coming up with a birth plan can be stressful! You have to decide on a birth location, delivery method, technique and more. One popular delivery option many parents have been considering is water birth.

What is a Water Birth?

A water birth is pretty much what it sounds like…laboring and delivering in the water! Many hospitals or birthing centers today are equipped with special birthing pools or tubs to allow for this. In some instances, women elect to have a water birth in their home with a doula or midwife.

Where Does a Water Birth Happen?

Moms who choose water births get in big tubs of warm water while in labor. Many women choose this option because it has been reported to reduce labor pain. And, if you reduce the pain and increase the comfort, oftentimes it speeds up the labor process (and who wouldn’t wish for that!)

The practice of laboring in water is a relatively new concept. Through the centuries, women never delivered babies in water, so there’s still some confusion around this birthing practice.

Controversy with Water Births

While laboring in water is safe, there is controversy around actually giving birth in water. In the womb, your baby’s lungs are getting ready for their big debut. The first breath is a huge life transition. However, when the baby is born in a tub of water, there is a risk that they can breathe in some of the water, which could lead to drowning. Another potential risk is exposure to infection, especially if mom has a bowel movement in the tub.

If you plan to give birth in a hospital, make sure to schedule a private tour of the facilities. Bring along a list of questions, including if you will be allowed to birth in water.

The decision to have a water birth or not is your own preference and being informed is key. It’s important to discuss this decision with your OB or midwife, to make sure you align on what’s the best plan for you and your baby.

Ultimately, it’s important to be flexible when it comes to your birth plan. Things can change quickly during labor, and complications can arise, but the #1 priority of doctors, midwives, doulas, and parents alike is the safety of mama and baby.

Are Water Births Safe?

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.