Rub-a-Dub-Dub Labor in the Tub

laboring tub

In the throes of labor, when my patients ask me how my deliveries went, they are often incredulous when I tell them that I had two all-natural births with my daughters. I see them instantly start watching me warily, wondering if I’m going to try to stop them from getting drugs.

“Oh no, it’s not like that,” I rush on to say. “I’m not against epidurals or medications,” I explain. “It’s just the hospital I delivered at had whirlpool jetted tubs. I found that it was all the pain relief I needed.”

And it’s true. I didn’t give birth in the tub, but I pretty much spent my entire labor riding out my contractions with five strategically-placed whirlpool tub jets.

And it worked out great. I didn’t have a birth plan, but I knew I wanted to go with the flow of what my body was telling me during labor. When I started feeling exhausted and doubtful of my ability to go on at only 5 cm dilated, I knew I had to try something different.

My care provider suggested trying the tub, and although I was skeptical at first, into the tub I plopped. I found that the combination of the buoyancy in the water relieved the pressure I felt when sitting in a bed through my contractions. Add in the whirlpool jets and I had the perfect combination to get me through back labor. With the sound of the running water and the lights dimmed, I was able to finally relax enough to allow my labor to progress, as I had imagined. 

My nurse came in periodically to check on me, using a hand-held Doppler to monitor the baby’s heart rate and I spent time climbing in and out of the tub to refresh the water, cool down, or change positions. (On a practical note, I have to say it was kind of nice to be able to rinse away the pleasantries of labor rather than sit on those pads in a hospital bed.)

More hospitals are equipping their labor and delivery units with whirlpool tubs and studies have found that laboring in a tub offers women more control and less medical intervention and complications during delivery.

If you want to learn if a tub labor might be right for you, I encourage you to talk to your care provider to discuss the option. For some women, it’s a cheap, easy, and effective way to manage pain during labor.

Now if only they would have let me take that tub home…


Would you consider laboring in the tub? What about giving birth in a tub?  

Image via Flickr: homejobsbymom

What do you think?

Rub-a-Dub-Dub Labor in the Tub

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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  1. Ashley says:

    Recently found out I’m pregnant with my first. Also found out my insurance won’t cover labor and delivery (which I kind of expected, to be totally honest). Thirdly, found out that my local hospital offers tub births now.

    My question is, is there a huge cost difference between bed and tub? And would the cost difference be nullified by whatever I would wind up paying (copay, etc.) for drugs, if I were to need any?

    Any insight on this would be extremely helpful in planning.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I wish there was more options available here. I live in central Montana and I don’t think there’s even a midwife in the area.

  3. Arielle says:

    Do the full water birth. Its amazing and wonderfully relaxing.

  4. Arielle says:

    GI spent a lot of time in the whirlpool while I was laboring. I would get out after a while and then walk for a while and then get back in the whirlpool. I also delivered with a midwife and delivered in a birthing pool. I never even contemplated an epidural until the very end. Right before I started pushing the contractions were so intense that I remember thinking, I should have had the epidural. Shortly after that I was able to start pushing and I was fine. In the end, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my labor and delivery. It was perfect and in a way, I enjoyed it. I recommend the whirlpool and water birth to pregnant women all the time.

  5. I did most of my laboring in a birthing tub 3 weeks ago with my first baby. It was GREAT! My son was giving me some really bad back labor, and the jets were a life savor. Very relaxing, and helped the time go by so much faster. If i ever have another baby I would deff do it again the same way.

  6. This is what I did with my first and it was fanfreakingtastic!!! I’m planning on an actual water birth for baby no. 2 very relaxing, kept me out of my head, and I was able to progress and labor very "easily." I highly recommend it!

  7. Melody says:

    I’m curious, and I’d love to give it a shot next time around.

  8. JDa says:

    I went to a freestanding birth center to give birth after doing my research and deciding what felt right for me. Once I was in labor with my daughter, it was surprising what my body was able to do. While I didn’t have a birth plan, I always knew that I’d probably at least labor in the tub. So once I got there, I labored for about an hour in the tub. It felt wonderful considering I was experiencing back labor and definitely helped with the pressure of birth, which is really what it was more like than "pain." Although I wasn’t planning on a water birth, that is where she came out. It was an amazing experience. In the end, it’s all about making choices that make you most comfortable so that you can labor without fear.

  9. I had a water birth and it was amazing. I would look into your local hospitals because a lot if them are doing water births. I had mine in a hospital but the environment was like you were at home it was amazing. As long as you move around a little bit you can handle the pain. I’m not saying it easy but the water helps it kinda relieves some of the pressure!! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!! My email is

  10. Jaclyn says:

    i would love to give birth in water not just for the contractions but as well to acually give birth…but i am very scared….i do not want to put my childs life in the hands of just anyone…i know in a hospital she will be taken care of good and i have as much help as i would like….i am also scared that i cant take the pain the whole time

  11. Stephanie says:

    I gave birth to my son in a tub in a birthing center…I knew from the beginning that I did not want to give birth in a hospital…it’s not like I didn’t give it a chance…I did take tours and asks questions…It was just not good enough for me…The bright lights? Hell no…I need a relaxing setting…like 6 or 7 people in the room while I’m giving birth, (not counting my husband) NO! Lying in a bed not being able to move around as I please, weather in labor or delivering..Nope.
    I really was not aware of my options, but I knew a hospital was not one of them, unless me and my baby needed serious medical attention….Giving birth..I see that as a natural thing…
    I never researched anything so much in my life! I found my option of giving birth in a birthing center…Certified Nurse Midwife and a relaxing home setting, with not so many people up in my "business"…sounded much better..I was still skeptical, but went to meet with a midwife not too far from where I life, and I knew that was the place to be!

    Me and my baby were taken care of by a Certified Nurse Midwife and an assistant. They made sure that me and the baby were healthy. After giving birth to my son, I was able to go home 3 hours later! Leaving all the rest of the day for family time in our own home.
    My midwife is always there if I had questions or issues and she would help me through them. Not only did she make sure I was having a healthy pregnancy and birth, but she was also emotionaly supportive.
    It was the best possible decision I made for me and my son.
    Here is the website, and if you decide to go, mention my name as a referal, if you don’t mind. 😉

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