After a disappointing hospital birthing experience with her first child, Kristi Formas knew there had to be a better way. When she was pregnant with her second child, she began looking around for alternatives. It wasn't long before she came across information on water birth. The more she read, the more she liked.
Learning about Water Birth
"I wanted to have a very different birth experience than my first in the hospital, which had a great deal of unnecessary medical interventions," Formas says. "I had discovered that the water relaxes you, tends to speed up labor, is very helpful in pain management, and greatly reduces the risk of tearing or needing an episiotomy."
Formas and her husband looked at area hospitals near their Wisconsin home to see if anyone would accommodate a water birth, but most had policies against giving birth in the water. Formas decided to take matters into her own hands. She hired a doula, interviewed midwives, and decided to have her next baby at home with a portable birthing tub.
To help with their birth, the Formas hired Jennifer Graham, who lives in Wisconsin and has been a doula for four years. She knows the benefits of having a baby in the water, and says the number of women having water births is rapidly increasing. She owns a birthing tub that she rents out to families and says it is nearly always in use. "More and more hospitals are seeing the benefit of laboring in the water," Graham says. "Many have even added large tubs for the mothers to use; unfortunately they have not allowed water birthing as of yet."
This is something Graham would like to see change and hopes it will soon as awareness about water birth continues to grow.
Barbara Harper is the executive director and founder of Waterbirth International, a group based in Oregon. The organization is dedicated to educating medical professionals and the public about water birth. One of the group's main goals is to make sure water birth is an available option for all women.