Shannon writes about pregnancy, parenting and simple living at GrowingSlower. She is author of Natural Birth Stories: A Real Mom’s Guide to an Empowering Natural Birth (in which you can read Mommy Gearest’s story about her epidural-free, midwife-assisted delivery of Miss Q!). She and her wonderful husband of five years are parents to an energetic little boy and a peaceful baby girl.
Have you ever wondered about the logistics of a home water birth? Since I’ve shared so publicly through my blog and book about my two home births, I get asked a lot of questions. One of the most common is “So, did you have the baby in one of those plastic kiddie pools?” second only to “Isn’t it messy?”
And the answer to both questions is a definite no. It really isn’t that messy and, believe it or not, there are tubs created specifically for the purpose of labour and birth. Since this seems to be such a big misconception, I’m excited to share a review today of the actual birth tub we used for our first natural home birth, the AquaDoula.
I have no doubt that being able to labour in water is part of what made my first birth a painless and positive experience. I knew I would plan to do it again with all future babies. And I would have, except…the tub still only had about 6 inches of water after baby #2’s speedy arrival!
The AquaDoula tub is 4.5 feet in diametre. It is meant to fit two adults (if your birth partner would like to join you in the tub). That really didn’t appeal to me personally or to my hubby, so he stayed on the outside.
With the sturdy plastic and foam sides, I was able to comfortably lean on the edge of the tub. My labour overall was fairly short at eight hours, but with 2.5 hours of pushing, I was thankful that my husband was able to lean over the side and hold me up as I pushed.
I also appreciated the soft, padded floor as I laboured on hands and knees for almost the entire time I was in the pool.
At 24 inches deep, the AquaDoula can easily accommodate an 18-inch water depth, the minimum for a safe water birth. I was able to be fully submerged to take advantage of the soothing warmth and the buoyancy of the water. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to keep on pushing had it not been for that buoyancy and being able to completely relax and float between contractions.
One of the great features of the AquaDoula is that it can be used with a heater to maintain a safe water temperature. (Inflatable labor tubs cannot be used with a heater, so your birth team has to carry pots of hot or cold water to adjust the temperature.) Now, my baby was born in August and our condo had no air conditioning, so I wasn’t so excited about a heater. At some point during labour, my midwife switched the heat off for me, so I’d be more comfortable. However, I can image that if it was December or if you were in a chilly hospital room, a heater would be great.
Our tub rental also came with a hose adapter, a disposable liner and an electric pump for draining.
|Me and BabyE in the AquaDoula immediately after the birth.
The only drawback of the AquaDoula birth tub is the expense. If you purchased one, it would cost more than $1,000. Luckily, they are available for rent both online and locally for less than $300. (That may seem like a lot, but it really is well worth it.) We rented ours through Labor Tubs Northwest, which serves the greater Seattle area, and paid just under $300 for tub rental, delivery, set up and, most important, clean up and take down. They are on-call 24 hours a day, so when my husband made the call around 10 p.m. they came right over. Despite my impatience to be in the tub NOW, it really didn’t take long to set it up and get it filled.