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What does water birth feel like?

We know that every water birth is different. But we also know that so many women are drawn to giving birth in water and have positive birth experiences in a birth pool.
So what’s it really like?
greeting water baby

It’s ok to change your plans

Firstly, there are some women who are planning a water birth who end up choosing not to birth in water. Maybe they listen to their bodies and don’t feel like it at the time? Maybe they receive advice that being in water could slow down their labour, and it feels right for them to take this advice on board? Maybe birth takes them by surprise and they don’t have time to get in the water?

Trust your instincts

As with all things related to birth, it’s important to respond to the reality of the situation and the women’s requests and instincts.

It’s also important to keep in mind that a labouring or birthing woman is usually in a very different state of mind. She may be connecting deeply with herself and her baby, and likely her brain has switched off its rational decision-making parts, which is required for a deep tuning in to the body. So whether a woman births in water may not be a rational decision, very likely it’s something that is just felt in the moment.

There is no “one size fits all” experience of labouring and/or birthing in water.

Pain relief 

But there are a few things we know about women’s experiences of water birth.

One – and often a big consideration – is that women labouring and/or birthing in water generally experience less pain. The water is soothing and relaxing, and allows the skin around the perineum to stretch more comfortably. With a somewhat more manageable amount of pain present, many women find that they are able to be more mindful and focussed during birth.

Magic moments after birth

Women also generally enjoy the moments just after birth in the water with their newborn baby. There is something special and slow about being immersed it the water, and perhaps other family members can be invited in the “water birth pool” bubble, too.

Water also gives a bit of a magical touch to a birth experience. Something about being immersed in water tends to take us to a more relaxed and otherworldly state.

Your support team

Practically, for a comfortable and positive water birth, you’ll likely want to plan and have support. It’s best to keep the water at a warm, comfortable temperature and have someone on your birth support team responsible for this.

You’ll want to make sure as well that you either have a suitably spacious (and accessible) bath tub or specialised birth pool, filled early enough that there is no rushing when you feel ready to get in the water.

Learn more

We’ve heard the water birth experiences of hundreds of women over the past 25 years, and we’re always excited to hear of more water birth babies coming into the world! 

You can read about the 5 steps for preparing for your water birth here.

Follow this link to read our FAQs, which includes info on hiring a birth pool kit vs buying a birth pool. Or head over to our articles section to read more stories about water births and home births.