"Try it before you buy it" is a powerful advertising tool. Although you can't try a water birth out, it's important to gather as much information as possible before choosing it as your birthing option. Some medical professionals suggest watching water birth videos before choosing to have one yourself. But should you watch them? Karen Shields, a certified nurse-midwife practicing in Elmer, New Jersey, says, "I think it is a good idea to watch a video prior to water birth, but not a necessity."
Water birth videos can be a helpful, but it is up to you to determine your comfort level. On one hand, you may prefer having the information, including a visual of what you'll experience. On the other hand, you may prefer discussion and literature instead of a visual. If you get squeamish at the sight of blood and nudity, it might be best to forgo watching water birth videos.
Before typing "water birth video" into YouTube or your search engine of choice, there are a few ways to prepare for what you'll see. Patrick Weix, M.D, Ph.D., an ob-gyn practicing in Irving, Texas, and a contributor to the medical website healthtap.com, suggests talking to your physician. She can lead you to trusted sources, those with balanced viewpoints and accurate information. Jennifer Lopez's movie The Backup Plan, for example, does portray water birth, but it doesn't give any real instruction about the process, so it is important that the videos you watch are not acted but are of actual water births. The best way to ensure that you'll watch an actual water birth is to use the sources suggested by your doctor and to consult real moms who've chosen or researched water birth. Bonnie Wiscombe, a mom from Mesa, Arizona, who chose to have water birth twice, watched one or two water birth videos, but she doesn't recommend watching just any Internet video. "Some are pretty intense and can vary widely in their approach to birth," Wiscombe says.
In addition to consulting trusted sources, it is important to know what you might see. Expect to see an inflatable birthing tub or a home bathtub. The mother may be in the tub alone or have her partner in there with her, and, depending on her preference, she may be wearing a shirt or tank top or be completely nude. Expect to see blood, urine, and feces released from the body into the water. You'll watch the mother endure pain, which may cause her to grunt, yell, or make shocking noises. The emotions of birth are different for each woman; some women in videos may react loudly to labor and others may appear to be in a trance.
Most practitioners recommend visiting Waterbirth International (waterbirth.org), considered to be one of the best online resources for water birth. The website includes scholarly research articles and testimonials to provide answers to frequently asked questions, in addition to several books about water birth. Doctors, midwives, and doulas serve as excellent resources to recommend water birth videos. For more video suggestions, speak to other moms who have given or considered giving water birth. Hughan Frederick, M.D., an ob-gyn practicing in Alpharetta, Georgia, suggests taking water birth classes offered by birthing centers or hospitals to find additional video recommendations.
You can go one step further than watching a video by actually attending a water birth. On a season 7 episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians, Kourtney attended a water birth to "explore all her options" before the arrival of her second child. Although the Kardashians are not always models for good behavior, doing research, observing the reality, and making the best decision for yourself is some Kardashian behavior we can get behind. "I think it would be wonderful if more soon-to-be moms could attend the birth of a loved one before having their own baby. The spirit and love that attends a real-life birth is something that can't be communicated through film," Wiscombe says. Her advice to attend a birth of any kind is worth considering, especially if you're interested in viewing a water birth. Of course, the best way to go about experiencing a live water birth is to inquire among your family and close friends. If this option is not available, ask your practitioner if there are any patients who may be willing to let you observe their water births and would be comfortable letting you share in their personal experience.
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