>>>We are planning a home waterbirth for our newest expectation.
Congratulations Mommy StormRaven! Having had 2 out of 3 dd's in water, I wish I'd done 3 out of 3. But of course, the first was a nightmare of a hospital experience which led us to a home water birth. I only wish I knew then what I know now, especially regarding tubs.
Papa & I considered renting one, but looked for the most cost efficient & comfy tub. We opted to use our midwives inflatable hot tub. It was made of a very durable thick plastic & was very deep. (about 3 ft. deep)
Benefits: Because it was so deep I could really bounce around in the water & float belly down. I found support was difficult during contractions & papa sitting behind me was the solution. We'd planned on him being in the tub right behind me & that was the position I pushed in. I don't think my grasp had enough gravity trying to hold onto the inflatable sides & holding onto papas legs around me was perfect. About 1 minute of pushing & dd was out.
Those foam headrests found at spa stores would be wonderful! I wish I had found those back then.
Cons: The tub didn't have an inflatable bottom. I didn't realize how much my perineum would hurt by sitting on a flat bottom pool. My ass would burn because of the heater right beneath, so that created some comfort issues. We rolled up towels & placed them beneath me, but soon, the towels would be floating all over & not really supporting. I pretty much sat on papa so I didn't get burned. (we had the heater on the lowest setting too) We were horrified though when papa drained & deflated the tub to find that the heater burned the carpet!
We felt heating the water was very important so dd would come into contact w/ an environment closer to that of the womb. Papa & I chose this birth method as a gentle way of bringing dd into the world. It's amazing how calm babies enter the world in that environment. What a change to birth a child who is nearly asleep compared to one being forced to scream as a sign of being healthy.
I couldn't imagine how cold water would affect the baby. That seems like such a huge shock to their system. We kept constant eye on the water temp & had a thermometer on hand to test it. As a way of conserving the tub at a constant temp, we covered it like someone had mentioned above. I also waited to get in until I was in excruciating pain. With the birth of dd #1, I learned that warm water eases the pain, but it also can slow down labor. Having had a 36 hour labor, I didn't want to prolong it so I walked around outside, worked in the garden & stayed active until it was time for pain relief, then I turned to the tub. Contractions sped up as soon as I stepped out, & slowed down when I stepped in. Women w/ long labors may want to be cautious as to using the tub too early in labor. I'd imagine that women w/ short labors would need to fill the tub quickly because it takes a while to achieve the ideal temp. (98.6) At times we had to add cold water or it would have been too warm. I found I had to step out for relief once in a while because I'd get sleepy in the water. After being up all night & birthing into the afternoon, I needed cool air to wake me up. :*)
It's a good idea to have a big pitcher of ice water (& a cup w/ a straw) on hand because the warm water & breathing dehydrates you. I was slamming water right up until the end. It was so strange because it seemed I couldn't get enough!
dd#3 was birthed at the hospital w/ midwife. I chose this route because the hospital had recently installed a tub created for birthing. I fell in love w/ it. I could walk right into it, w/ railings on the side, it also had 2 sets of handles, & jets. Although when pushing, I thought it needed a handle all the way around because they weren't in the place I needed them. lol! Live & learn I guess. We think we're done having babies, but it would be nice to have perfected our birthing method & try one more time! :*)
Something else to consider is to practice filling your tub & adjusting the water temp before laboring to have a good idea about how long the process will take. It's also reassuring to know that everything is working properly beforehand. (leaks, heaters, pumps, etc..)