Dispelling the Top Myths About Water Birth

Health Foundations Birth Center Water Birth

With water births becoming an increasingly popular natural birthing option, there are of course many misconceptions about the practice out there. From concerns about infection, to worries about the baby drowning or inhaling water, there are plenty of scary myths about water births that aren’t necessarily true. Here are the top 7 myths we hear about water births and why you shouldn’t worry!

Top 7 Myths of Water Birth

  1. You have to be naked to have a water birth: If modesty is a concern for you and you don’t want to feel overly exposed during birth, fear not, there are no rules stating that one must be naked during a water birth. You are free to wear whatever top you feel comfortable in, be it a t-shirt, sports bra or tankini top. What’s most important is that you are comfortable and are able to more freely throughout your labor and delivery. 
  2. Your baby will be more likely to get an infection if born into water: The risk for infection is one of the most commonly cited fears about water birth. The reality is that the rate of infant infection reported in water births is less than .01 percent. Although many women do pass a stool while pushing their baby out some experts believe that the water perhaps might even provide a partial barrier to infection by diluting any bacteria making it less likely to cause harm to the baby. 
  3. Your baby will overheat if you have a water birth: The maximum temperature recommended for a water birth is 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Your baby is not at risk of overheating at this temperature and will be born into a comfortable and womb-like environment in the water. You can also choose to have the temperature cooler if that is more comfortable for you. The water temperature and your temperature will be checked routinely throughout labor and delivery to ensure that you are not overheating and your midwife will also help ensure that you stay adequately hydrated throughout the process.
  4. Having a water birth will cause more vaginal tearing: On the contrary, water births actually have lower rates of perineal trauma and vaginal tearing than non-water births due to the added elasticity because of the water. Water immersion has also been shown to help relax the pelvic floor which ultimately aids in the descent and pushing out of baby.
  5. You can’t get out of the tub if you decide to have a water birth: Water immersion can be utilized during your birth experience for any part, the entirety, or on and off throughout your birth experience. There’s no rule that says that once you are in the water you need to stay in. Should your body tell you that you need to get out and move around or you’ve decided you’d be more comfortable birthing outside of the tub, you absolutely have that flexibility to make changes as you see fit. 
  6. Your baby might drown if born into the water: Another common concern shared about delivering in water is whether or not there is risk of baby drowning. However, when your baby is born he is actually still receiving his oxygen supply from the placenta. Once he emerges from the vaginal canal he will be immediately lifted out of the water which will then signal his body to shift over to breathing through his lungs and increase blood flow to that area.  
  7. You have to be young to have a water birth: There is no age cut off for when a woman is no longer able to have a water birth. Instead, your midwife or doctor will assess your health and the health of your baby and help you make an informed decision based on those factors. Factors that may prevent you from having a water birth include maternal infection, a breech baby, excessive bleeding or other complications that may make a water birth unsafe for you or your baby. 

If you are interested in possibly having a water birth but have concerns about the process, contact Health Foundations to speak with a midwife who will be happy to alleviate your worries, address your concerns, and answer all of your questions . We are happy to offer free consultations and tours of our Birth Center, including viewing our homelike birthing suites with new built-in birthing tubs. We would love to be part of your birthing experience and help you decide if water birth is for you!

Managing Visitors After Baby

Newborn Visitors

Nothing attracts well-meaning visitors like a brand new, adorable baby. Once the little one arrives, friends and family will be eager to meet your little one. Being prepared ahead of time for how you and your partner want to handle visitors once baby arrives will save you a great deal of stress and spare you some potentially uncomfortable conversations.  Here are 5 tips for managing doting friends and family once you bring your baby home.  

  1. Come up with a plan with your partner: These days/weeks following the birth of your baby are all about you, your baby, and your new family. You will not only be adjusting to caring for a newborn but also dealing with your own recovery and rapidly fluctuating postpartum hormones. It is important to be mindful of rest and nourishment. This is also a special time of bonding for you and your baby. Set those boundaries ahead of time and stick to them. There will be plenty of time for everyone to meet baby when the time is right!
  2. Accept help: When baby arrives, it is perfectly fine to ask for/accept help. Most people will offer- say yes! People often like to bring a meal, but don’t be afraid to ask for help with things like walking the dog, looking after your other children, or even holding the baby while you shower. Knowing that some of your daily chores are being taken care of allows you to focus on important things like resting and bonding with your new babe.
  3. Have your partner protect your space: Agree ahead of time that your partner will be the person to greet visitors and also gently nudge them once they have been there for a little while. A good amount of visiting time is about 15 minutes. Your partner can tactfully send people along their way when you need your rest, gently step in if your parents or in-laws are overstepping their bounds, and/or make suggestions as to how people can make themselves useful during their visit.
  4. Shamelessly ban sick visitors: There are few things as susceptible to germs and illness as a vulnerable newborn. There is no excuse for visitors showing up with a cough, the sniffles, a sore throat or even recovering from “food poisoning.” Let those mama bear instincts take hold and politely suggest that anyone who is not feeling 100 percent save their visit for a later date. It’s also okay to require that visitors wash their hands and use hand sanitizer before holding your baby. 
  5. Allow for plenty of alone time: A steady stream of visitors can be exhausting. You will likely already be feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, working to establish your breastfeeding relationship and will be navigating life with your newest family member. Try to space your visitors out and limit the time they spend in order to allow plenty of time for you and your little family to bond. True friends and family will understand how sacred this special time is for you and your new family.

You should never feel the need to apologize for prioritizing and taking care of yourself and your new baby in the days and weeks following your delivery. Your baby. Your family. Your way.

For questions regarding prenatal or postpartum care, natural delivery or other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife or for a tour of our Birth Center.

Listeria and Pregnancy: What Is It, Symptoms, and How to Avoid Infection

Listeria and Pregnancy

Listeria is one of those scary words during pregnancy that you’ve heard but may not be exactly sure what it is. You probably know the basics about what foods you should not eat to avoid infection but what is listeria, exactly? And why is listeria so dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies? 

These are all excellent questions and a great place to begin when educating yourself about these dangerous bacteria. Here are the basics about listeria and why it is crucial that you take steps to avoid these bacteria while pregnant. 

What is it?

Listeria is a form of bacteria that can be found in uncooked vegetables, fruits and meats, unpasteurized milk and cheeses and processed foods. Listeria moncytogenese can originate in water and soil and animals can also act as carriers for the bacteria. When food comes in contact with listeria, it is considered contaminated and the bacteria can only be killed by cooking the food to the proper temperature or through pasteurization. 

Why is there an increased risk for pregnant women?

When a person becomes ill from the bacteria listeria, they are said to have listeriosis. While this is a rare condition, pregnant women are approximately 10-20 times more susceptible to infection than non-pregnant adults. Contracting listeriosis during pregnancy can result in serious complications for both mom and baby including miscarriage, premature delivery, infection to the newborn, and in extreme cases fetal or maternal death. As many as 1/5 cases of listeria infection in pregnant women result in stillbirth or neonatal death.

What are the symptoms of listeria infection?

Symptoms of listeriosis can begin as early as several days after exposure or as late as one month later. They may include:

  • Mild flu like symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Muscle pain

Fortunately with early detection, an aggressive antibiotic regimen can help prevent the infection from crossing the placental barrier and infecting the baby. This can greatly reduce the chances of severe complications like miscarriage or stillbirth. If you suspect you may have become infected with listeria, contact your doctor immediately who can perform a blood test to check for the presence of the bacteria.

How can I avoid listeria infection while pregnant?

With extra attention to what you eat and proper food safety and handling, you can greatly reduce your risk of coming in contact with the bacteria listeria while pregnant. Here are some tips to preventing infection during pregnancy and keeping you and your baby healthy:

  • Skip deli meats and hot dogs unless reheated to steaming (160 degrees F)
  • Avoid soft cheeses that may not be pasteurized such as Brie, feta, goat cheese, Camembert, 
  • Mexican cheeses (queso fresco, quesos blanco and panela), and blue-veined cheeses. Hard cheeses and semi-soft cheeses like mozzarella are fine, as are cream cheese and cottage cheese.
  • Do not eat pate or other cold meat spreads
  • Do not eat refrigerated smoked salmon unless it has been cooked in a dish.
  • Keep food prep areas clean
  • Wash your hands before eating or handling food
  • Cook foods to their proper internal temperatures
  • Keep your refrigerator clean and set at 40 degrees or less
  • Wash fruits and veggies thoroughly before eating
  • Avoid raw or uncooked meats and seafood
  • Refrigerate and freeze leftovers promptly.

For more foods to avoid during pregnancy, check out this article. 

Although it is important to take measures to avoid listeria during pregnancy due to the potential for serious complications, remember that instances of listeriosis are extremely rare. In the US, approximately 1,700 people each year become infected with the illness of which only 17 percent are pregnant women. With a healthy, pregnancy conscious diet and safe food handling practices, there is no need to be fearful of listeria infection. Listeriosis is fortunately very preventable in most cases. For questions about maternal and fetal health, natural birth or any and all pregnancy related topics, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.