I was chatting with a friend yesterday about birth and other topics, and she dropped the bomb eyebrows raised that her friend had done a WATER BIRTH with her first child, so that, you know,the birth is more soooooothing to the baby because the water reminds it of the womb. And then we looked at each other in eyebrow-raised silence.
Over and over again I've heard this ridiculous explanation (often with one or both eyebrows raised) that water birth is eeeeeasier on the baby. And every time they say it, they have to draw out one of the vowels to convey the full California-ness of this explanation. I'd like the meet the goddess-worshiping hippy who first made up this story. And punch her in the mouth.
For the rest of us God-fearing water-birthers,this explanation makes us look like crazy lunatics. And while some of us certainly are crazy lunatics, the notion reinforces the cloud of wary uncertainty around home birth and those who practice it.
If you have ever given birth in water, you know for certain these three facts:
1) The purpose of a tub of water is to lessen the pain on your pelvis when you're flying without drugs. In the open air it hurts like a mofo. Inside the tub, less so.
2) The experience of the baby is not one of luxuriating in the water and soaking up its womb-like calming properties. The moment the baby slides out he is lifted from the water so that he can breathe.
3) For a baby, emerging into the air is not as traumatic as having its head squeezed through your birth canal. A hot tub will not help him in this respect.
When I was first learning about home birth and read some excellent books such as this one, I too had prejudices against the tub, until I read over and over again that the birth tub was the one thing (perhaps the only thing?) that makes the pain of birth manageable in the home setting. After going through the experience myself, I completely agree. Labor in the tub was doable, even not as as bad as I had imagined. By contrast, in the first hour of my labor before I went into the tub I was fantasizing fondly about death.
So this should serve as a brief explanation on why we're NOT freakish hippies for doing a water birth at home. Certainly not. We're freakish hippies for draining the soiled water into our tomato patch.
We had to, after all. It's filled with nutrients. And EEEEENERGY.