Considering med-free birth without labor tub. Share your experiences? — The Bump
Natural Birth

Considering med-free birth without labor tub. Share your experiences?

For background, the hospital where I'm giving birth is very natural childbirth-friendly; I'll be delivered by a midwife and accompanied by a doula. We live nearby, so I plan to labor at home as long as possible. 

The hospital has hot showers in all birthing rooms, but not tubs. You can rent and bring in your own labor tub (but not actually deliver in it), but I'm not really sure I want to. On one hand, I feel like I should because many people/articles talk about how much the tub helped them and I'm afraid that if I don't and I end up with medical interventions, I'll feel like it's my fault for not doing everything possible to avoid them. 

On the other hand, it's another big expense (and money is tight). And since I don't plan to go to the hospital till 3-1-1, I wonder how long I'd actually be able to use it by the time I got through triage, the tub was set up, etc. And last, I'm really not at all sure it's a comfort measure I'd actually use. I only go swimming when it's at least 95* out, I take super-hot baths (when not pregnant), and I just generally don't like lukewarm water or getting unnecessarily wet. 

So, two questions, I guess: 

1) If you labored in the tub, did you find that it was really appealing/helpful while in labor even if it wouldn't usually be your thing? 

2) Has anyone done med-free birth without a labor tub? Do you feel like the pain was still manageable? Was showering enough? Any advice if I go this route? 

BFP #1 08/05/12. EDD 4/15/13 m/c 08/27/12
BFP #2 06/05/13. EDD 2/16/2014 (Team Blue). Baby Wombat born 2/20/2014 7lb. 11oz and 20 in.
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Re: Considering med-free birth without labor tub. Share your experiences?

  • I labored in the tub and it made a huge difference for me. I had not planned to labor in the tub but when I was in labor I gave it a try and loved it. The hot water really took the edge off of my contractions and helped with the back labor. I think I spent almost all of my labor in the tub! I labored on hands and knees and had my H/doula pour the hot water over my back. It was great and got me through some tough contractions/back labor.
     In your case I do not think I would spend the money for a labor tub. I have heard that showers can be just as helpful. You really need the water on your back and stomach during labor so if you bring a stool in and sit down then aim the water onto your belly it can help with the pain.

  • 1) I'm not really a bath taker, other than when I was in labor I've probably taken 2 in the last decade.  I'm just so-so about swimming, I can swim well, but could take it or leave it in terms of whether it's an activity I enjoy.  I did find it to be a big help in terms of pain management so much so that I actually 'labored down' for 1.5+ hours because I just didn't want to get out and push :)

    2) I did not use a tub with number two and while it would have been nice everything went so fast there really wasn't time.  Still manageable on dry land though.  

    You are planning to labor at home which means you could use the bath then and you would have a shower in the hospital, so really I think that should be enough.  While not as pleasant I could have done it without the bathtub.   
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  • I labored in a whirlpool tub with my first and I actually didn't like it. I felt too constrained and couldn't really relax.

    I absolutely love the shower. I switched back and forth between the shower and the tub with my first but with my second I only labored in the shower. It felt so good to be able to keep moving a little and be able to focus the water on the area I was feeling the contractions the most.
  • my first three births were water births . I have always loved taking baths and soaking so i knew that being in the tub would help. For me the water takes the edge off the pain and allows me to relax in between contractions which helps sooooo much. With my fourth I wasnt able to use the tub . I ended up having to go into our local hospital ( not planned ) and was only there for 45 minutes before the birth. Though i know the water would have helped me everything happend super fast so there wasnt much diffrence in the end. Had my fourth labor been longer i would have wanted the water and would have taken advatage of it. If you stay home you can use the tub at home then when you get to the hospital see where your at and use the shower if need be . As far as the actual birth goes theres not much different from birthing in he tub then on land at least to me anyway.
  • If you plan on laboring at home for the majority of time then I don't think renting a tub will be necessary.  A shower and counter pressure from your partner are an option for pain management.  By the time I got to the hospital I was ready to push, so I did not even get to look at the nice whirlpool tub in the L&D room I was in.
  • My first was med-free with no tub.  While I did really love laboring in the tub with #2, I may not have access to a tub this time and I'm ok with it.  Definitely doable!!
  • I didn't labor in the tub. Once I arrived at the hospital I didn't want to get off the birthing ball.
  • Thanks, ladies.  All of this is very helpful and reassuring! 

    BFP #1 08/05/12. EDD 4/15/13 m/c 08/27/12
    BFP #2 06/05/13. EDD 2/16/2014 (Team Blue). Baby Wombat born 2/20/2014 7lb. 11oz and 20 in.
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  • I labored in the tub with my 1st birth, early on. Loved it. But I was only 2.5cm and I had been in labor for 20hrs and needed some relaxation. However, I didn't get into the tub with my 2nd birth until transition. I thought I would LOVE it, but I hated being on my back in the tub. Some of my hardest contractions were in the tub, because I was just so uncomfortable. However, I did use the shower 2x- once at 4cm, and again at 6cm... and I loved that so much. I let the water run down my belly and breasts, as this can stimulate contractions further. I also added drops of lavender and grapefruit essential oils to help me feel relaxed (1st shower) and energized (2nd shower). Its a hard decision to make though, because what you think you might love, you might end up hating.
    8.7.04 Married the Man
    7.16.11 Welcomed the Boy (#1)
    8.19.13 Welcomed the Boy (#2)

  • No tub here either. I did take a shower -- and it did help, a little -- but so did experimenting with different positions and sort of slow dancing with DH, swaying my hips and biting into his shoulder (sorry, DH).

    I don't think the lack of a tub is a huge hurdle. Helpful? Sure. But it's just one pain management technique -- there are others.
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  • MamaWombat - glad you asked it! I've been wondering the same thing. I don't mind a bath every now and then, but I haven't been enjoying them while pregnant. I can't seem to get comfortable - the surface is too hard and I just can't relax.

    There is only one room with a labor tub at the hospital where I'll deliver, so it may be a non-issue. But, not sure whether to ask for it or not as I'm not sure I'll use it (and I'd feel bad occupying that room if someone else really needed the tub).

    Also - I'm pretty cold-natured. I realize that likely won't be the case in the throws of labor, but I'd want the water hot and I know that's a no-no. I forget the highest temp the hospital allows, but I remember thinking it's not going to be nearly hot enough for me to relax! I'm probably more likely to use the shower while sitting on a chair or my birth ball.
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  • My guess is that if you leave at 3-1-1, you won't need the tub at the hospital by the time you get through triage. I used the tub at home, and it was incredibly helpful to me. It took my pain from a 7 to a 3 (but I also love baths to begin with). I went into transition while in the tub, and by the time I got to the hospital, I was at 10 cm and ready to push.

    My labor progressed very quickly. I jumped from contractions every 7-8 minutes right to every 1-2 minutes. So you may not be at 10 cm when you get to the hospital. But I would think that most people at 3-1-1 would be pretty far along.
  • I didn't have a tub, and even though I had access to a shower I never used it.  Changing positions, massage, and deep breathing got me through my labor just fine. 

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  • I have had 3 med-free HB. Only one was a water birth. With J., nothing about water/a shower/tub sounded appealing. I used other things for comfort (rocking in a rocking chair) and counterpressure. With A. I couldn't wait to get into the tub. I actually ended up delivering her there, though I hadn't thought I would want a water birth ahead of time. Once I was in the water I thought it was absolutely amazing and I'd only been in it about 15 minutes before needing to push. There was no way I was getting out.

    And with S., DH and I were just talking about setting up the tub. I told him I'd get in the shower while he filled it. And then I announced "scratch that plan. Catch the baby!" Baby was descending and crowning as I said it. So there was no time for the tub.

    So yes, it's absolutely possible and manageable without a tub.
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  • My labor came on hard and fast, but even though my contractions were about a minute apart, I wasn't convinced I was actually in labor, so I decided to take a bath before waking my husband up. I, like many women, had hopes of the water soothing my body and making contractions so much easier, but that was not the case for me. My body felt best bent over with my head against the bed and my butt in the air, so being trapped on my back in the bath tub was actually extremely painful.

    I would have loved to have the experience of a lovely water laboring experience, but it was not in the cards for me, but I did go on to have an amazingly awesome natural birth experience without use of a birthing tub!

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  • I actually found that the labor tub didn't work great for me. I had a lot of hip/pelvic pain/pressure and the tub didn't do much for it during contractions. In between contractions it was great to lay back and relax in the water, but I only used the tub for about 20 minutes. I mostly used the birthing ball and a kneeling position on the foot of the bed. The hospital beds could be manipulated into a number of positions and my MW did one where the foot of the bed was lowered and the rest of the bed was raised up and pillows were stacked on the raised end. I knelt on the foot of the bed and laid my upper body and head on the pillows. My support people (DH and SIL did counter pressure and rubbed my back and talked me through each contraction. They were the real reason I was able to labor for so long without meds). I switched between those two positions for almost all of my active labor. I did end up with an epi due to my pelvic pain, but only for the last 3 hours of my labor (I labored 19 hours total, including pushing).
  • With my first med free birth I was in the tub for about 8 hours straight (almost all of that was from about 7 cms onwards). It was truly amazing and served its purpose very well! 
    My next med free birth was in a hospital where water birth/birth tubs wasn't an option. And you know what? It went just fine. I didn't even use the shower. I actually found I labored much differently that time than the first, and didn't even miss the tub. 
    With #3 I had access to a tub but labored mostly on the bed where I was more comfortable. I did get in the tub, but probably for only 30 minutes to an hour (mainly the last bit plus delivery). 
    I'm planning #4 and having a home birth. Honestly, I wasn't sure if a birth tub is something I'd want to spend the money on this time around, but have arranged to borrow one from a friend just in case. 
    Anyway, my point is that yes, a tub-free natural birth is totally possible! 
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  • 2 of my 3 were posterior babies with horrendous back labor. I couldn't have made it without the tub especially with my hospital birth. I highly recommend it for labor! Can u bring a kiddie pool instead? I just found one on amazon for $30 and its 22in deep! That's cheap enough u could buy one for laboring at home and have the other to take to the hospital. U honestly won't know what I want until u are in labor. Better safe then sorry. Best wishes and good luck!!
  • I also squat and sway in the tub. I only labored on my back with my first when I was exhausted.
  • alliejoealliejoe member
    edited December 2013
    I really thought I wanted to labor and deliver in the tub, I started in the shower sitting on the birthing ball and got in the tub at around ~7cm (guessing? I hadn't been checked at that point). I hated the floaty feeling. I wanted out as soon as I got in. 
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  • I had a med-free hospital birth with my first baby. The tub was not an option. I didn't even get in the shower. I thought the pain was very manageable and I have no qualms about taking the same path with #2 in August.
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