There’s a reason water birth is so enticing when it comes to planning a natural birth: water is, in fact, life itself . . . and it’s healing. It’s my go-to place whenever I’m feeling sad, anxious, hurt, or drained. It gives me strength.
When I officially decided that I wanted to try a water birth with my second baby, I searched EVERYWHERE for advice. What should I bring with me? What should I expect? How can I prepare for this? I had so many questions. I remember feeling so drawn to the idea of a water birth yet so terrified of it at the same time. If you’re considering a similar plan for your birth, you can go ahead and call me your virtual doula because, girl, do I have some tips for YOU!
Location, Location, Location!
With planning any birth, you first have to figure out where it will take place and who will be joining you for the grand event! Unfortunately, most hospitals don’t offer water births, so you’ll have to do some research and figure out where you are going to feel the most at ease. Is it at home? A birth center? Feeling safe and comfortable in your environment is so important. Shop around, tour different facilities, and talk with a variety of doctors, midwives, and doulas. Find your people, and ask ALL the questions. The ones who are there with you during your birth are your support team, and it needs to feel that way! If you’re local to Albuquerque, I cannot recommend Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center enough.
It’s so important to treat yourself to some gentle exercise routines throughout your pregnancy. My doula gifted me with an online prenatal yoga class that was so helpful! Yoga became a special time where I got to bond with my growing son. My favorite part about taking this class was being able to learn different ways to position my body for pregnancy-specific aches and pains. This really came in handy later on when my contractions got stronger. Yoga teaches you to trust and listen to your body which is one of the biggest key points during labor.
I’ve always been a firm believer that many of the physical pains we feel throughout our lives can be soothed with positive thinking. Labor is hard. It’s exhausting. It’s excruciating. It can be SO difficult to stay positive. I remember a moment where I was sobbing in the arms of my husband, crying out “I don’t think I can do this!” Each time I uttered those words, my husband reminded me that I could do this. He assured me that I was already doing it, and I was doing great! He countered each negative thought I had with words of love, and soon enough, I began to believe him. If there’s one thing I wish I would have brought with me, it’s visual words of affirmation. Whether it be on a poster, a book, note cards . . . it would be helpful to have positivity written all over your birth space to repeatedly remind yourself of your strength.
Here are some of my favorite affirmations:
“My body knows how to birth this baby just as my body knew how to grow this baby.”
“I will meet my baby soon!”
“Each wave brings me closer to my baby. Ride the wave.”
“My body is designed to do this. I can and I will do this.”
In some ways, I think birth can be just as hard on your birthing partner as it is on you. Not physically, of course, but emotionally. It’s the struggle of watching their loved one in pain, knowing there isn’t a single thing they can do to fix it. One of the best things my husband and I did to prepare for birth was take an online Hypnobirth class that was offered through our birth center. I know, I know, hypnotherapy sounds totally weird and freaky . . . but I promise, it isn’t! During one of the classes, my husband and I were instructed to look into our near future and envision ourselves at our birth. What would help me feel comforted at that moment? How can he be there for me? We discussed not only my fears but his, giving us the opportunity to problem-solve beforehand, together. I strongly recommend having these conversations throughout your pregnancy so that your entire birthing team will best know how to support you emotionally.
What to Bring with You
If you’re giving birth at a center, chances are they will already have most of what you’d want or need. However, it’s always nice to have a few comfort items, and there are a few I can recommend you add to your bag!
- Something sugary to sip on! In between contractions, taking small sips of your favorite juice can really help to boost the energy you need to keep going.
- A bath pillow.
- Swimwear . . . for your birthing partner! I was really comforted by the fact that my husband was suited up and ready to jump into the bath at any moment to hold me if I needed it! I also packed along a bikini top for me to wear while in the tub.
- Your favorite calming music.
- Soft, cozy jammies and some slippers.
- “Padsicles” . . . you can thank me later! I highly recommend this brand.
- Hard candies or mints.
- A camera at the ready! Don’t forget to have someone document these precious moments so that you can soak it all in.
At the end of the day, every single birth experience is different. That’s what makes them amazing and oh so much fun to talk about! Whether a water birth is the right choice for you or not, many of these tips will still apply. Remember to listen to your body, ride those waves of pain, and channel feelings of fear into those of excitement.
You’ve got this, mama!
Soon you’ll have your very own birth story to share, and it will be the most beautiful one you’ve ever heard.