Water births give laboring mothers control and comfort

When Ashlyn Aho began the search for a midwife to guide her through the upcoming delivery of her fourth child, she had a list of qualities she desired. She wanted a provider who was caring, knowledgeable and would help Ashlyn feel comfortable and at ease. She found all of that and more in Dawn Dahlgren-Roemmich, certified nurse midwife, at Tri-County Health Care.

Midwives offer many benefits to moms including holistic care, personalized education and hands-on service from prenatal to postpartum and beyond.

When Ashlyn heard that Dawn specializes in water births, where mothers can go through labor and deliver their babies in a warm-water birthing tub, she was curious and decided to give it a try.

“We have a rock-solid water birth program.Ashlyn Aho with her baby who was born using a water birth method.

All of us have been specially trained and have safety protocols in place,” Dawn said. “We do a lot of prep and planning during prenatal visits. We talk a lot about what moms are doing for relaxation techniques or how they are planning to cope with contractions. Because the tub is not your saving grace.” Dawn laughed. “You still have contractions. So I always want people to know that you are going to have to do some things besides just getting in the tub.”

When Ashlyn came in on Sept. 13, Dawn and the nurses prepped the tub and guided her through labor, which progressed at a steady pace. Her husband, Marlin, was close by her side.

“They were probably one of the sweetest couples I’ve ever gotten to take care of,” Dawn said with a wide smile. “They were super giddy and so in love with each other, which was really cute to see.”

Once Ashlyn’s labor pains grew intense, she entered the tub. The warm water helped to take the edge off her pain and allowed her to have some control over her labor, specifically when it came to pushing.

“I’ve never had that control over my body at that point in labor,” Ashlyn said. “I felt in control with pushing. When Dawn was like, ‘Slow down,’ I was able to slow down and not push.”

Ashlyn’s husband, Marlin, stayed near her and helped to support her back, urging her on and giving her encouragement. Though the delivery was hard work, Ashlyn believes it was less intense than it could have been thanks to the water.

“Sometimes moms will say, ‘I think I should get out because I think it should be getting worse, right?’” Dawn said. “I’ll usually say, ‘That’s the buoyancy effect of the water, and you’re relaxing, so your body is releasing more natural endorphins.’ I think that has surprised a couple of moms.”

About an hour later, Ashlyn and Marlin were holding their son Zayic in their arms.

“The most incredible part was watching the baby come swimming out,” Ashlyn recalled. “My husband thought that was really cool, watching him be born, just floating in the water. It was almost peaceful. That would be a good way to explain it. It was hard, too, but thinking back, that’s what I remember.”

Dawn expressed that being able to watch the birth of your child is a special experience, and water births allow both partners an extraordinary view. “I like to say to moms, ‘Reach down and take your baby,’ because I feel like that empowers them to say, ‘Hey, I did this. I got to help catch my own baby.’”

Ashlyn said one of the best parts of the experience was having Dawn as her provider. She was thankful that she had someone that cared and helped her feel comfortable throughout the whole process.

“I was so blessed. The Lord knew exactly what I needed,” Ashlyn said. “Dawn’s so amazing. Very down to earth. Comfortable to be around and talk with. I really love her.”

Ashlyn plans to continue seeing Dawn for her care. And as for water births, she believes the experience is worth it.

“I would say definitely try it,” she said. “Obviously, it’s not for everybody, but it was an amazing experience for myself.”Mother Tenderly Holding Newborn After Home Water Birth.


Water Birth Benefits:

  • Increased relaxation
  • Easier time coping with contractions
  • Little to no need for pain medication
  • Improved positioning for birthing the baby
  • Slowed or stopped contractions in early labor
  • Possible shorter labor
  • Ability to get out and walk around
  • Less need for forceps, vacuum or cesarean section
  • Reduced chance of a serious tear or need for an episiotomy


How do I know it is safe for my baby?

As a mother, one of your first priorities is the safety of your child. When it comes to that safety, there are no known risks to you or to your baby during a water birth.

  • Research shows no increase of infections in women or babies after labor or birth in water.
  • The tubs are cleaned thoroughly before and after each birth.
  • Your providers will monitor you and your baby closely while you are in the tub.


Will my baby breathe underwater?

Your baby has natural instincts that keep him or her from breathing until the right moment:

Hormones: In the days leading up to labor, a baby’s breathing activity decreases dramatically because of hormones released by the placenta.

Temperature: When babies encounter cool air after birth, their bodies tell them to breathe. Because the water in the tub is kept close to body temperature, they never receive the signal to breathe until they are lifted out of the water.

Dive Reflex: Humans have a powerful dive reflex that maximizes their ability to hold their breath underwater. In a baby, that reflex is triggered immediately when it comes into contact with the water.

Hypoxia: Babies are born in a state of acute hypoxia, meaning they are temporarily without oxygen. This prevents them from breathing prematurely.

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