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Is waterbirth really less painful?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,


My first baby was posterior and labour was slow and very painful, until I got an epidural, which was just wonderful. The second time round it was very quick (from 5cm dilated to baby being born in 25 minutes), and excrutiatingly painful. There was no time for pain relief. So with number 3, I am terrified that it's going to be this painful again. 


I'm wondering whether a water birth or at least labour would make much of a difference. I know it's meant to slow labour down a bit which might help, but I wonder whether the difference will be enough. I guess I'm worried that I will decide to try a water birth and then find that it's just as painful as before, by which time it will be too late for pain relief again. I'm thinking I might chicken out this time and plan to have an epidural (unless there are enough people who have found waterbirths to be significantly less painful who can convince me otherwise).


Gas doesn't work for me, and I'm not keen to try hypnotherapy or anything like that.


Thanks in advance :)

post #2 of 21

Water makes contractions much more managable in my experience. It is not anything like an epidural, however, when I was in the water I was able to be on top of all of my contractions and the pain. In combination with my Hypnobabies preparation, I did very well. I would definitely recommend something like Hypnobabies or some other program that trains your body to relax. If you normally have fast labors, the water will likely not slow you down *too* much. If you are in a hospital and you decide the water isn't helpful enough, you can probably get an epidural unless you're at the pushing phase already...

post #3 of 21

I agree with the previous poster. The water definitely helps, but nothing compared to an epi (I've tried both).

post #4 of 21

I had a waterbirth with my dd at home. I was able to manage the pain. It was much better being in the water than out of it.

I would suggest you read the birth stories on here and get an idea for yourself what kind of birth you want this time and then figure in pain management later.

Women have been having babies throughout all our history without epidurals you could and would do it if you had to.

My favorite book suggestion is Birthing From Within by Pam England.

It is not a homebirth book but a book on natural childbirth.  It really helped me during my labor.


post #5 of 21
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone. I'll keep thinking about it. I've still got quite a long time to make a decision.

post #7 of 21

I've had two natural births, one in water, one on land.  The one in water was absurdly less painful.  It took away all that back pain and warmed up my leg muscles and I was able to just RELAX.  I got in the tub after about 3 hours of labor on land, and then labored in the water for about 30 min before pushing baby out in 3 good strong pushes.  Compared to my land birth (though she was a posterior babe) that was 12 hours long and 50 min of pushing, my 2nd was a piece of cake.


Pushing in the water was MUCH easier (though I did feel the ring of fire that I didn't feel the first time).  And in between contractions, having the warm water all around me was SO relaxing.  I was able to shake off each contraction easily so I could rest in between.


IMO, waterbirth is the way to do it.  SO much better for mama, and so relaxing.


Not pain-free, but very helpful in dealing with each contraction.

post #8 of 21

Water won't do much with back labor, I've been-there-done-that. The only thing that helped was having DH use all of his weight as counter pressure and heating pads in that situation. But it was fantastic for pushing!


With my second, things progressed pretty classically and the water was amazing for active labor. I flopped my arms and chin over the side and floated through my contractions. I was able to stay on top of them beautifully. But I won't say they were not strong, but NOTHING like back labor pain.

post #9 of 21

I've never had a water birth.  I do stand in the shower for the majority of my labors, though. 


I just wanted to add that dd was back labor, and 12 hours, and hospital, and flat on my back.  Not fun.  Apparently not as awful as some women have it, but still, not fun.  Ds was really quick, and really, really intense.  (From the first painful, yes that was a real contraction, to birth was 30 minutes.)  I was a bit afraid of riding that freight train again.  Whew.  But my next wasn't like that at all.  In fact, it was very gentle and never, ever got intense.  So, don't be totally afraid of your next labor...it may be different. :)

post #10 of 21

I've only given birth once, but it was a waterbirth.  It was not painfree, but the water was helpful.  The few times I got out of the water to use the toilet, I immediately felt much more pain with my contractions.  While each woman and each birth is distinct, I think that for many women, warm water takes the edge off and makes contractions easier to manage but does not eliminate the pain. 

post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hello again. Thank you all so much for the helpful comments. I understand that being in water is not going to take the pain away completely, but it sounds from your comments like it does lessen the pain significantly. So I will probably plan for a waterbirth, with an epidural as the back-up plan if no tub is available on the day. (I actually wanted to try it last time, but the tub at the hospital I was at was out of order.) 


And Just1More, thank you for the encouragement. You're right, it could be a much more gentle labour this time. One can always hope... smile.gif


Could I just throw another question into the mix? Have you all found that there is a smaller risk of tearing with a waterbirth? I had a 4th degree tear the first time round (on top of an episiotomy). The second time I still tore all the way, but not as deeply, so it wasn't as bad. (As a sidenote, to illustrate just how painful my second labour was, the tearing only felt like a tiny twinge compared to the labour pain up to that point. I actually thought I must not have torn at all eyesroll.gif )



post #12 of 21

Yes, water can help prevent tearing.


From what I understand, in order to stretch you tissues need to be able to engorge, like the way a penis needs to engorge to stretch. The warmth of the water helps, not being on your back with legs up helps, and I believe, maybe the most important part, there is a level of privacy in the water that helps. It's also easier to reach down and touch the babies head or your body if you need too.

post #13 of 21

What books have you read on birth? I don't want to recommend any you have read already.

My second birth was so different than my first and one of the main things I did was educate myself on birth.  There are many resources out there to help educate you and help you.

I did not tear with my second birth.

post #14 of 21
I've had 3 vaginal births, the first induced and the 2nd and 3rd completely spontaneous home births. My 1st home birth was a water birth. I planned to use the tub again for my 2nd home birth but, when the time came, I had no desire to get in the tub. All 3 of those births were just as intense. I think the water birth was a bit more intense for me but I think that was because of my expectations. I expected it to be easier than my induction and when it wasn't, I wasn't prepared. I was better able to handle the intensity of my out-of-water home birth because I knew what to expect.
post #15 of 21

I have four children. The second and third were both waterbirths. With my second, giving birth in the tub was great. With my third, it was so-so. The water got chilly, but I was far enough along in labor that I didn't want to move.

post #16 of 21

I did a waterbirth.  I was able to relax so much as I love the water.  I don't think my contractions hurt less in the water, although I didn't get out to test it after I was in, but it did slow them down for me and that's what I needed at the time because before I got in they were 75 seconds long with only a 60 or so second break.  I couldn't relax and it was too much.  In the water it felt like I had a five mintue break although I'm sure I didn't, but it felt longer and I was able to refocus so I could make it through each one.

post #17 of 21

Oh, I did tear in the water, a 2nd degree, almost a 3rd, but it was ok.  I didn't feel it compared to a contraction and healing afterwards was like healing from a regular injury.

post #18 of 21

Not to hijack your thread op, but asking a related question-has anyone tried a waterbirth with a jacuzzi? Apparently there is one in the apartment i will be moving into shortly. Was planning a homebirth, but not necessarily a waterbirth.


Reading this thread eagerly, as i was thinking about the same subject....

post #19 of 21


Originally Posted by contactmaya View Post

Not to hijack your thread op, but asking a related question-has anyone tried a waterbirth with a jacuzzi? Apparently there is one in the apartment i will be moving into shortly. Was planning a homebirth, but not necessarily a waterbirth.


Reading this thread eagerly, as i was thinking about the same subject....


The hospital tub I was in was a jacuzzi style tub with jets.  I liked the jets, as I could move so that it hit my lower back in a soothing spot.  My midwife turned the jets off when I was pushing.  


post #20 of 21
No experiences to add as this is my first pregnancy, but thank you all for sharing, I am garnering info to make decisions for the future. Very interesting.
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