Q&A Birth Tub Edition

Whoo-boy have I received a ton of questions about our homebirth, and the majority of them?  Have to do with the birth tub logistics, so I’ll start there.

How do you fill the tub?  Bucket by bucket?  And what if it leaks?  Were you worried about having gross birthy water leaking onto your floors?

The birth tub (which we borrowed from our midwife) had instructions on how to inflate it and fill it.  One of the items we needed to buy to complete our “homebirth kit” was a NEW garden hose.  To fill the tub, you attach the hose to your facet and fill it up.  The tub holds 170 gallons, so the instructions suggest turning up the water heater so that it reheats water faster.

David forgot to buy an adaptor so that the hose would attach to our kitchen facet, so he ended up running it through the heat vent to the utility sink in the basement.  This worked out better for us in the end, because the vent was right by the tub, so we didn’t have a hose running through our entire house and causing people to trip.

Honestly, I never considered what would happen if the tub leaked.  Our tub happened to be brand new as the midwife had several of us due at the same time and not enough tubs, so she purchased another one, so perhaps because it was new I didn’t worry?  Or maybe we’ve had enough kiddie pools spring a leak, and I’ve seen first hand how SLOW the leak usually is, so I figured David would have plenty of time to apply duck tape and empty it before any real damage happened?  Don’t know, but I never worried about it.

Finally, the water was basically clean and clear for the majority of labor.  It wasn’t until after the baby was born that it got bloody/nasty.  But even then, it LOOKS worse than it is, because it’s 170 gallons of water to dilute any blood or other grossness.

Is there a way to keep the water warm in the tub?  Were you pruny afterwards?  What did you do with the water afterwards?

The most common way to keep the water warm in the tub is just as Sarah suggested in the comments of my last post:  which is to add some boiling water once in awhile.  HOWEVER, I am married to MacGyver so he had BETTER ways to do everything regarding the tub.  He kept the hose hooked up to the utility sink and ran a trickle of hot water into it the whole time, so it never got cold or even cool.  It wasn’t hot either, just nice and warm.  I think once or twice he unhooked the hose from the facet in the basement and let some water drain out so as not to have an over-full tub, but he handled it all, and I was unaware of any of his fiddling.

I don’t think I was too pruny afterwards, but my hands/arms were mostly out of the water for the majority of the time (because I was leaning over the side, resting my head on the wide inflated side).  I think my feet were pruny, but I barely noticed.

After I delivered and got out of the tub, David unhooked the hose and let the water go into the utility sink (which drains into the sanity sewer, same as when you flush the toilet).  He also could have run the hose out the window and into the yard.  Again, I know the water looks gross, but again, it was VERY DILUTED gross.

Did you have to buy the birth tub?  If not, how do you clean it so someone else can use it?  Isn’t that unsanitary?

Our midwife owns several birth tubs which she lends to her clients free of charge.  She does a 36 week home visit and brings the tub to our home at that time.  One of the things we had to buy was a liner for the tub, which is made specifically for the tub and fits the tub perfectly.  After the tub is empty and the liner is thrown away, we (“we” meaning “David”) have to wash the tub out with a bleach and water solution, but this is just a precaution, as none of the water I used should have actually touched the tub anyway.

How big and deep was the tub?

As I said, the tub held 170 gallons of water.  If you are like me, though, you do not have good spacial awareness and “170 gallons” means basically NOTHING to you.  The tub we used was this one, I believe, and you can see how big it is in the photos.  It was plenty big for me to completely stretch out in, and when seated on the little chair in the bottom, the water came up to my breasts.  If I were to sit in the bottom of the tub, it would have been up to my neck.

One thing about using a tub like this instead of a bath tub:  this tub totally inflated, so the bottom and sides were nice and soft.  I spent the majority of the time on my knees leaning over the side, and since the bottom was inflated and the water so deep, I had basically NO pressure or weight on my knees.  Also, the sides were so wide that I could easily rest my head comfortably on a towel on the side of the tub.  Both of these thing would be much harder in a normal bath tub, even if it was one of those nice big fancy jacuzzi tubs.


So, did I cover everything?


6 thoughts on “Q&A Birth Tub Edition

  1. Oh, can I ask a question?

    Did you labor with your other pregnancies at all? I’m just curious if you went into this totally blind or if you had an idea of labor. Also, do you think this will have any effect on your doula-ing?

    Yay for talking about having babies! I’m having on too, in March so I’m just soaking all of this up. We’re going for a birth center water birth this time, after a hospital then a home birth.

    • Beth, I did have labor with both of my other pregnancies. I got to 10cm and pushed for HOURS but both ended in Csections. So yep, I knew (sort of) what I was getting into with the whole labor thing. I just had not done a DRUG FREE labor and WOW.

      I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures in birthing! I’d love to hear your thoughts (when the time comes) about a home birth vs. birth center.

  2. I love that the bottom and sides were all soft, too. That was something I very much disliked about the jacuzzi tub at the hospital; I too spent the majority of my transitioning phase in the water, rocking back and forth on my knees, and my wrists and knees got pretty sore!

  3. I thought of you during my own labor a few days ago. Mainly: how did she sit down the whole time?! Every time someone suggested the tub I wanted to kick them in the teeth because the thought of not standing up/hunched over made me want to die. I suppose the water takes all the pressure off, huh?

    • Oh, no, NO NO NO, I was not sitting, not at ALL. I used the little birth seat at the bottom of the tub only briefly, and even then, during contractions I was more almost back-floating than sitting. Mostly, I was hunched over as well, on my knees in the tub with my arms flung over the side of the tub. I was fairly weightless, so it was very comfortable… I mean as comfortable as one can be DURING LABOR. 🙂

      I cannot WAIT to hear your birth story… I’ve been refreshing your page, even… Which is silly because I took WEEKS posting my own. 🙂 Hope you’re getting some rest in the meantime!

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