Home Birth Prep: Water Birth

Water birth is something that many people who are planning a home birth (and many who aren’t!) are interested in. We are thrilled to be able to offer our clients the use of our La Bassine Pro birth tubs–included in your fee!

Some families are on the fence about whether or not they want to go to the trouble and minor added expense of having a birth tub available. We strongly recommend setting up a tub if this is your first vaginal birth–whether or not you think you’d like to deliver in the water. Water immersion is such an effective pain relief method, and with those first births there’s many more unknowns and we can’t predict whether you’re likely to have a sprint or a marathon ahead of you. If you’ve given birth before–particularly unmedicated–and are pretty sure water isn’t your jam, then that is certainly something to weigh in your decision making.

Tub kit includes inflatable tub, submersible pump, fill hose, fill pump, adaptors.

If you want to borrow a tub, let us know before your prenatal home visit, and we’ll bring a kit with us. Your birth tub kit comes with:

  • A tub (most of ours are La Bassine Professional tubs, but we have two others for those rare events that one is checked out)
  • An air pump to fill the tub
  • A clean fill hose (this is not to be used to drain the tub after use)
  • Hose/sink/shower adaptors (most kits have 1-3, but you’ll want to make sure what we have will work for your plumbing, and if not you’ll need to purchase one that works for you)
  • A submersible water pump to drain the tub
La Bassine Professional

Even though we provide the tubs, there is still a number of items for you to acquire:

Items to purchase
  • A liner (purchased at Precious Arrows when you buy your birth kit)
  • A fish net (purchased at Precious Arrows when you buy your birth kit)
  • A water thermometer (purchased at Precious Arrows when you buy your birth kit)
  • A drain hose (any garden hose will do, but we only use our fill hoses to fill the tub so that they remain clean)
  • Optional: a mirror
  • Optional: a bucket heater (recommended for anyone having their first vaginal birth, also purchased at Precious Arrows when you buy your birth kit)
  • Possible: a hose/sink/shower adaptor if the ones in your kit don’t work for your plumbing
“Bucket” heater

Before you are full term, we recommend fully inflating the tub with air, allowing it to sit for at least 4-6 hours, and checking for air leaks. If there is a leak, there should be a patch kit in your birth tub box. Make any patches and then let us know if there is a problem after that.

Inflate to check for air leaks

When you are in early labor, we recommend turning up your water heater as hot as it will go. This will allow you to fill the tub higher without having to wait for the water heater to fill and reheat again. Make sure your tub is well-inflated but not over-inflated) and sitting on a tarp or other plastic liner that protrudes about a foot around the tub base for water protection while stepping in and out of the tub.

If this is your first baby (first vaginal birth, actually), we don’t recommend filling the tub until we have arrived and assessed your stage of labor. If it’s not your first baby, you should start filling the tub when we say we are on our way. The temperature of the water should be about 100 degrees (we want it to be between 97-100 degrees for delivery, so we shoot for the high end of that range before birth). Be VERY careful not to fill it too cold, as it is difficult to bring the temperature up. You should never remove water with the submersible pump if the intent is to still use the tub, as the pumps cannot be appropriately sanitized and should only be used after the birth is completed.

After your birth, we will drain the tub and discard the liner. You should:

  • let the tub dry completely (just leave it out until the next day)
  • wipe it down with an antiseptic solution (a Chlorox wipe works well)
  • let it dry again
  • allow the hose to dry completely
  • pack the kit back up for us to take back at your 1 or 3 day postpartum visit

This may sound like a lot of extra work–most of which falls on the partner’s shoulders–but rest assured, most people find the option of laboring and/or birthing in the water to be invaluable. Since we don’t offer pharmacological pain relief at home, water birth is the biggest, and generally most effective, tool in our tool kit.