The maximum water temperature suggested for waterbirth is usually 37.5 degrees Celsius or 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Some studies recommend 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degree Fahrenheit). Now if you are not a hot water fan then water birth might be the choice for you. As for myself, I am happiest in HOT water, preferably 105 (40.6 C) but I could make do with 102 (38.9). Yet 102 degrees is too hot for a water birth.
Second Stage (pushing):
I am the the overly exuberant type. As soon as I discovered Fen, my last baby, was crowning, I wanted him out and pushed him out with all the strength my rather muscular body could manage. You guessed it, I tore. Recovery was much more difficult then expected and I stayed in bed for a good two weeks instead of a week (today is the end of my week confinement). In addition to tearing, I had a reaction to the suture material, Vicryl, which left a rather ugly scar. Now gobs of arnica oil (Weleda makes some great stuff) massaged regularly into the scar on a daily basis a good two weeks or so before the birth did wonders for the scar but I wanted my perineum carefully guarded during second stage so that my midwife could instruct me to put on the brakes at the appropriate time. I ended up breathing (rather than pushing) Nettie out with only a slight skid marking the passage of her head. Recovery has been a breeze and as a result I have a lot more pictures of Nettie as a newborn then Fen. Sadly I was too sore to move much with Fenimore the first week or two and I am the picture taker in the family. Thankfully I hold his newborn pictures in my heart.
Have you ever watched "Birth in the Squatting position?" That is sort of what I pictured for this birth. I wanted to be squatting and fully aware as I caught Nettie slowly emerging from my body, then gently pull her to my body. I had trouble catching Fenimore in the water. I pushed him out so quickly that he slipped from my hands and I had to fumble a bit before pulling him up. The water was deep and I am small so I couldn't very well slowly catch him and comfortably bring him up to my chest or he would be under water. I had to stand up immediately after the birth. And once I stood up, I was freezing, shaky from the combination of birth hormones and the abrupt change in temperature. It just seemed that it would be simpler for me to catch a baby and then sit back to relax for a few breaths (as in the afore mentioned film) if I was on land.
Labor pains were ineed more intense out of the water but with the fear of giving birth out of the way I was able to embrace the pain and open without the help of the water. I found other ways to cope with the pain (stay tuned for my next blog post!) . In my opinion, I think water birth can be a great choice for VBAC or first-time moms when staying on top of labor pain might be harder but for a second vaginal birth, it can be fun to explore other options.