Is It Safe to Have a Waterbirth in a Hot Tub?
Although waterbirthing has been around for at least two centuries, it's experienced a surge in popularity in the last couple of decades are women look for natural ways to deal with childbirth pain. Although most women use a large tub or inflatable pool, some have wondered if it would be safe to use a jet tub for a water birth. Giving birth in a hot tub is safe as long as you take the following precautions.
Thoroughly Clean the Tub
The first and most important step to take before using a hot tub as a birthing bath is to drain and thoroughly clean the machine. Although hot water does kill a number of germs, it doesn't get them all. Additionally, hot water can make it difficult to maintain the correct amount of disinfectant in the tub to kill the rest that can survive heated environments.
As a result, a hot tub can contain a legion of bacterium such as Pseudomonas folliculitis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa that can be fatal to a newborn with minimal immune system protection. In fact, in 2014, a newborn infant died from Legionnaires disease after being born in a hot tub.
To ensure the tub is adequately sterilized, thoroughly clean the inside and exterior using an approved nonabrasive cleanser. Rinse well. Mix together about a ¼ cup of bleach with a 2 ¼ cup of water and scrub the tub again. Rinse again until all bleach residue is eliminated. Sterilization should be done on the same day as the birth to avoid contamination.
Set the Right Temperature
The warmth from the water in the hot tub can help ease the pain from contractions, promote good blood circulation, and reduce stress and anxiety. However, it's important make sure the water isn't too hot. Not only can high temperatures induce hyperthermia, water that's too hot can burn a baby's sensitive skin.
The ideal temperature for a water birth is between 95 and 101 degrees. You can typically set the temperature on the hot tub to the level that's most comfortable for you. However, keep a few bags of ice on hand to quickly cool down the water whenever the heat becomes too uncomfortable or unbearable.
Know Your Limits
A water birth is not for every pregnant person. It's not ideal for people who have herpes because the water can transmit the infection to the baby. It's also not recommended for breech babies or multiples (e.g., twins) because of the overall increased risk of complications. It's also important to watch for meconium (fetal feces). If there's a lot of it coming out of the womb, then you'll need to give birth to the baby outside the water to reduce the risk of infection.
It's not necessary to stay in the hot tub during the entire birth. You can hang out in the hot tub during the first phase of labor and then give birth in a bed once it's time to push. It's best to consult with a medical professional for recommendations for your particular situation.
To purchase a jet tub in preparation for a water birth, look for spas by Arctic Spas & Billiards or another company in your area.