Waterbirth Guidelines: Cheat Sheet

During Deb’s most recent semester of midwifery school, she created this waterbirth cheat sheet to print and add to her study binder. It’s one of the things that she wanted to look back on to refresh her memory as needed.

It seems that most of the waterbirth guidelines are pretty common sense, but there are some that people may not be aware of – you must use a drinking water hose to avoid lead and it should be NEW, laboring people should be drinking extra fluids, pools or tubs should not be filled ahead of time, hot tubs or tubs with jets are difficult to disinfect and a rigid or inflatable pool is ideal.

Waterbirth guidelines

We know that water immersion during labor is great for non-pharmaceutical pain management, so much so that midwives refer to it was the “aqua-dural”. Giving birth in the water is associated with higher rates of normal, physiological vaginal births and fewer episiotomies. The evidence shows us that there is no increased risk of adverse outcomes or death for the baby being born into the water.

Assuming that waterbirth guidelines are followed, especially infection control protocols, there appears to be minimal risk to the birthing person and the baby. Waterbirth is not appropriate for all pregnant people and those with certain risk factors would not be ideal candidates for birthing in the water.

Examples of risk factors that may risk you out of waterbirth:
– thick meconium is present
– excessive bleeding
– elevated maternal temperature
– non-reassuring fetal heart tones
– hypertension
– dehydration
– at the discretion of the midwife if it may be difficult to manage complications
– active herpes outbreak or other active skin infection

*The above list is probably not all inclusive, and you should always discuss your options with your provider.

Waterbirth should be an option offered to low-risk and healthy pregnant people, in and out of hospital. Waterbirth requires competent providers, tubs or pools that can be thoroughly disinfected, and appropriate monitoring of the birthing person and the baby.

*This blog post is not meant to replace medical care or conversations with your provider. This is not medical advice, but rather a jumping point for your path to informed consent and shared decision making.

Have you had a waterbirth in Clarksville, TN or the surrounding areas?

Links to research on waterbirth:



Click to access What%20a%20difference%20a%20pool%20makes.pdf





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