Everyone always talks about the benefits of giving birth in the water, how wonderful it is. They rave about it, and women go to great lengths to have the perfect water birth. Of course, from the moment I heard about it, I wanted one too.
Personally, I have had the incredible experience of giving birth four times, all without medication of any kind. (You can read about my fourth birth experience HERE.)
My second birth was my first, and only, water birth at home. There were things I liked, and it was an all around good experience, but my third and fourth babies were born on land. Here are a few reasons why water birth wasn't for me:
1. Water isn't my "safe place"
I grew up in a desert. Here in Northern Utah it may not seem like a desert, but it is. The summer (and winter) air is dry. My first exposure to humidity was my first time in Oklahoma, where I got out of the car and promptly decided the people there must have gills to breathe. Despite having swim lessons and enjoying leisure time in the water at the city pool or water park, it's just not a place I feel comfortable or safe, which are two of THE most important components to giving birth. While I enjoyed the warmth the water provided, it didn't help me get into the right head space to give birth.
There's a huge rush in our culture to get our "pre-baby body" back. On one local support group facebook page I often see the question, "I'm 3 (or 4, or 5) weeks postpartum and feel great and have stopped bleeding. Can I start working out?" And as soon as we hit that 6 week mark and get "approved" for exercising, many of us are off through the gate.
I'll start by saying this: slow down, mamas! Regular exercise is not appropriate before that 6 week mark - it could set back your healing and cause further issues (like worsening diastasis recit, an abdominal separation, or causing pelvic organ prolapse). So many postpartum cultures recommend staying indoors and relatively inactive for the first 40 days. Take this time to rest and bond with your baby. And if you're feeling REALLY restless, try these six postpartum-approved movements.
Confinement. Xuo Yue Zi. The first Forty Days. Ansei. Sitting Month. Baby Moon.
Whatever you call it, the first six weeks or so after a woman has a baby are a universally acknowledged time of much-needed recovery.
In several Eastern countries like Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand, and Japan, daily abdominal massage and various forms of wrapping the abdomen (in Malaysia called Bengkung Belly Binding) is practiced, bringing warmth and support to a recovering mother.
In Russia women are given an herbal steam bath in specially built saunas.
In China, women are served dishes of pig's feet, sweet rice congee, red date and ginger tea, among others, specifically made to warm her body, keep blood flowing, and help her breast milk com in quickly, easily, and in abundance.
In Korea and India, similar principles apply: women eat and drink only hot or room temperature items, like Seaweed Soup and special curries, to avoid creating "wind" in her body that might prevent healing.