Fun With Waterbirths

I am torn on the issue of hot tubs. They’re soothing and all, but you’re climbing into a vat of what is essentially human soup, and humans are notoriously not something I want to put in my mouth. Whether it’s a poorly wiped bum, a dissolving scab, gonorrhea discharge, dandruff… well, you get the picture. Add to that the fact that warm water is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and that the staff who clean said hot tub may mor may not be among the most diligent on earth, and you suddenly create a rather disgusting image, at least in my mind.

I’ve often drawn this same comparison in my head with waterbirths. Having been present at a total of five births that did not require me squeezing out of anyone’s birth canal, I can say without any doubt in my mind that none of the things that come out of women during this process is something I wish to bathe in. And all that stuff, the feces, the blood, the sweat, all the stuff they have on their skin and hair, it’s all in this warm bathtub living, loving, and reproducing, just waiting for baby to come in for a swim.

Well, it turns out there’s some validity to my paranoia. And it was nicely expressed in an article on Science Based Medicine today entitled What’s in the water at waterbirth?by Amy Tuteur MD. It’s a little bit disturbing to read, honestly, knowing how commonplace the waterbirth is these days, and how it is held up as this incredibly natural and wonderful way to enjoy the birthing experience. So I suggest you read it for an informed opinion on the topic. It’s not about terrifying people into making any particular decision, just making sure that you balance your decision with the best information we have.

And I know many of you will be angry at me for this piece. There is a ridiculously big push amongst women to enjoy natural childbirth, which I have already commented on. I understand where this comes from, and I appreciate what you are trying to do, but your birth plan should be one you make with a full understanding of the implications. I’m not saying you can’t have your baby in poop soup, just that you ought to be aware of what you’re doing.


This entry was posted in biology, critical thinking, food for thought, health by biguglyjim. Bookmark the permalink.

About biguglyjim

Like a caterpillar that spins a coccoon and emerges as a walrus with a mohawk, Big Ugly Jim has become something unexpected. Raised a fine young Christian boy in the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jim began to question his teachings, first evaluating the wisdom of other religions and eventually realizing that none of them seemed any more accurate than any other, and not a one of them made a lick of sense. Today, Big Ugly Jim is a musician, a Business Analyst with Large Oil Company Whose Name Is Not Important, a music promoter with the Calgary Beer Core, a writer of fiction and non-fiction, a prick, an atheist, a father, an ex-husband, a role model, a horrifying vision in a red speedo (or at least he would be, if ever that happened which IT WOULD NOT), an announcer, and soon to be an officiator of weddings. Also, he's nice and does dishes. Jim continues to live in Calgary, spreading his filthy doctrine of free, critical thinking and appreciation for music.

4 thoughts on “Fun With Waterbirths

  1. Hey Jim!
    As a somewhat science-esque critical-thinking devil’s advocate type myself i regularly read and enjoy your site, even if i sometimes wonder how many people really explore the articles and their primary sources. (Or even read down through the comments and discussion).
    For instance, this link. The article itself was basically an anti-water birth opinion piece, backed up by citing chosen studies… (except the results of those studies don’t really end up supporting her anti-waterbirth stance… ooops)

    The sort of thing i would expect from say, Dr. Mercola. -shudder-

    It turns out, as she reveals in comments section, that all the studies ever done on water-birth have basically come out a wash. No significant benefit in pain relief for the mother (although there was less reliance on pain medications), and no significant risks for the baby. At best, its inconclusive, at worst, its inconclusive.

    So, squeamish straw-men and poop jokes aside…
    Not much of substance here.

    Still, i completely agree that people should have a plan and be well informed about their options when comes to something as important as childbirth.

  2. Your complaint is valid. Although I did read the comments (up to the point when I began writing the piece) and found that this was very much a representation of one side of the argument, I’ll concede that I have my own bias in this. The births I have seen have often involved accidental voiding of the bowels during the pushing stage. Obviously if we are talking about someone having a bath during the early stages of labor, that’s a different thing entirely, but if we’re talking about a water birth, it is important to note that there is reason to be concerned about contamination in the water.

    However, I’ll admit that I didn’t delve into all of the relevant studies to ensure that I was receiving a clear picture of the data presented. In that I definitely failed at rigor, and the point is taken.

  3. Oh yeah, the other thing I meant to say in reply to that was thank you, Steve. :) It was a good reminder that I can’t be lazy. I should buy you a beer. How about we go to either a CFI meeting or Skeptics in the Pub and I make good on that threat?

    Correcting us keeps us honest. I’m sure I speak for all the Meddling Kids when I say that it’s very much appreciated when conversation erupts from these posts, especially conversation that makes us better.

  4. agreed. preaching to the choir is fun for sure, and can be a great ego stroke, but conversation and open debate are the cornerstone of the skeptic/humanist culture.

    i wonder how many people read our posts and truly disagree, but never comment. It’s a shame really … through discussion we learn more about our world and our re-discover our morality. I’d certainly love to see more exchange!

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