Mt Hood Women's HealthWaterbirth

What is Waterbirth?Waterbirth

Waterbirth involves giving birth while immersed in warm water. Waterbirth can be an effective alternative for women wishing to give birth without medication or an epidural. The buoyancy created by the warm water decreases body weight, allowing women to move more freely in positions most comfortable to them. In addition to being an effective form of pain management, waterbirth can promote relaxation and a sense of self-empowerment for the laboring mother.

Mt Hood Women's Health is committed to helping women have the delivery experience they desire. To that end, our Certified Nurse Midwives offer waterbirth in our hospital Family Birth Center as an option for delivery. Please see the criteria below for patients desiring a waterbirth and talk to your provider to see if waterbirth might be an option for you.

What are the benefits of Waterbirth?

Many women find that the warm water allows their bodies to relax due to a sense of weightlessness.  This may relieve stress and pain since muscles do not have to work so hard to support the body reducing the sense of pain during contractions.

Some researchers feel that being in water improves blood flow to all parts of your body, especially your uterus. They have observed that during labor your blood pressure may be lower if you soak in a tub of warm water. Because being more relaxed and more comfortable lowers stress hormones caused by labor pain, some researchers have found that labor may be somewhat shorter if warm water immersion is used. Other researchers have not found any great difference in the length of labor.

The ability to easily change positions in the tub also allows the delivering mother to retain a greater sense of control and comfort.

Waterbirth may also speed up labor, reduce the need for pain medication, and reduce tearing.

Is Waterbirth safe?

    Water Temperature

    The temperature is maintained close to 98 degrees and laboring women are encouraged to stay hydrated and comfortable.


    Another concern for your baby is what happens if your baby is born underwater and then tries to take a breath. A healthy baby who is not in distress will begin to breathe only when he or she feels cool air on its mouth and nose. Once born, your baby is raised gently to the surface and cradled in your arms with his or her face out of the water. Then your baby will start breathing safely.


    It is very hard to estimate the amount of blood a woman passes after she delivers the placenta (afterbirth). This is true whether the woman is delivering in a bed or a tub. There is some research that suggests a slightly greater amount of blood loss after a waterbirth. The nurse or midwife will check your uterus frequently to make sure there is no excessive bleeding. If there is a concern, you may be asked to exit the tub for an examination and/or treatment.

    Fetal Distress

Labor is stressful for both you and your baby. Nature has equipped healthy babies and mothers to handle that stress. Fetal distress occurs when your baby’s ability to cope with labor is compromised in some way. Monitoring how babies are handling labor is managed the same way for all babies whether or not you labor or give birth in water. Typically babies are monitored electronically for 20 minutes or so when you first arrive in the hospital. In active labor the heartbeat of every baby is monitored more frequently with a waterproof Doppler . If there are indications that your baby is experiencing a problem, you may be asked to leave the tub and continuous monitoring may be used.

What if there is a problem?

A problem for you or the baby will be handled in the same manner whether you are planning a waterbirth or a birth in bed. All maternity patients have access to monitors, medication, obstetric specialists, pediatric specialists and surgical procedures as needed.

Certain kinds of problems would not permit the use of the water tub. If a particular concern arises when you are already in the tub, you may be asked to move back to the bed.   While we desire everyone to have their ideal birth experience, we are ultimately most concerned with protecting the health and safety of both mother and child.

What type of tub is used?

 A special waterbirth tub is available to you if you have requested this option and have registered with the nurse-midwives. The tub has a single use liner and can accommodate you comfortably.

Where can I get more information?

Waterbirth International was formed to encourage research, distribute accurate information and help people who were interested in the concept successfully implement the use of water baths for labor and birth.


Web Design by Rareheron Web Design
Portland, OR

Office: (503) 491-9444
Fax: (503) 661-3430
Billing: (503) 492-8734

© Mt Hood Women’s Health, PC All rights reserved.
24850 SE Stark St, Ste 200
Gresham, OR 97030