Harper reports that awareness of water birth has increased tremendously since the organization was started in 1988. According to her, in 1991, there was only one hospital in the United States that offered water births as an option. Today, more than 300 hospitals have at least one water birth tub, but it's still a number that needs to grow, she says.
"For the past 20 years, I have promoted water labor and water birth as an option which should be available to all women in all birth settings," Harper says. "There is no one best option for all women. I believe the partnership between mother and baby is best served if the mother remains unmedicated, in control, and gives birth in complete ecstasy."
Harper says water birth is definitely one way to achieve that. She has given birth in water twice and says the benefits to the mother and baby are amazing.
Becky Pulito lives in New Hampshire and gave birth to her second son, Xavier, earlier this year. Her first son was not born in the water, but after this past experience, Pulito says all of her future births will be. She recommends water birth to other women who are pregnant and says it's definitely an option worth exploring. "Do what feels right,: she says. "Listen to your body."
Formas loved her experience giving birth in the water and has a unique story to tell about it. The day before her son was born, she was having semi-regular contractions. She thought it could be labor and called her midwife, doula, and parents, all of whom were planning to be present during the birth. Everyone came right away, but her contractions eventually went away. They all stayed the night in case the contractions started back up again, but at nine o'clock the next morning, everyone decided to take a break from waiting and left.
Soon afterward, her contractions started up again. As Formas' labor quickly intensified, she got into the birthing tub and immediately felt at ease.
Within minutes, Formas knew her son was coming and she would soon have to push. She had done her research and was confident she and her husband could handle the situation.