Emergency Department

202 S. Park St.
Madison, WI 53715

Current Estimated Wait:

Water Birth

UnityPoint Health – Meriter offers water birth as an option for labor and delivery. Water birth can provide an excellent alternative birth option for healthy women who are expecting an uncomplicated birth.

What are the risks to me or my baby?

  • Possible undetected problem for you or your baby
  • Newborn taking water into lungs during delivery
  • Possible infection for you or your baby
  • Newborn bleeding from broken umbilical cord

Your participation in a water birth class will help you prepare for possible emergencies. To prevent your baby from taking water into your baby's lungs or breaking the umbilical cord, your provider will gently and quickly guide your baby above the water surface as it is born. You and your baby will be monitored for signs of infection. As with any birth, the obstetrical team will inform you when the risks of delivering in the tub will outweigh the benefits of delivery under water. At that time, you will be informed and moved to the labor bed or an operating room.

What do I need to do to plan for a water birth?

Discuss the water birth option with your provider. You and your provider will meet to review the eligibility requirements. A water birth class is available for you, once it is determined you meet the eligibility requirements. Attendance at a water birth class is encouraged but optional.  A separate consent is required for a water birth delivery.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Healthy women at least 18 years old
  • Uncomplicated pregnancy
  • Single baby in head down position
  • No previous cesarean births

When is a Water Birth not possible?

You will not be eligible for a water birth if any of the following conditions are present:

  • Any condition requiring continuous monitoring of your baby
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Need for a vacuum or forceps delivery
  • Need for medicine to strengthen contractions
  • Meconium stained fluid
  • Fever or other evidence of infection
  • Request for epidural anesthesia
  • Any obstetric emergency
  • Problems with the water birth tub
  • Decision of the admitting provider
  • Trained water birth provider unavailable
  • Pregnancy BMI of 40 or greater

Who should I contact if I would like more information?

Please contact your primary care provider or OB/GYN to determine if you are a candidate for a water birth and if your provider is willing to offer a water birth delivery.

If you would like more information about a water birth, please contact Family Health Education at (608) 417-6990.