Planning on using water during your labor and birth? Hydrotherapy is a great option for comfort and pain management. The water offers warmth, buoyancy, and freedom of movement.
UPDATED JULY 2921
Despite research evidence that shows the safety of water birth for low-risk laboring women, an opinion statement by ACOG in 2014 has influenced many facilities throughout the USA to stop offering this option. (Read all about waterbirth safety and policies. And find answers to your waterbirth FAQ.)
Thankfully, in the Middle Tennessee Region, we currently have a few options for laboring in the water and/or giving birth in the water. This includes the Greater Nashville area as well as locations accessible to the Fort Campbell military community. More good news is that immersion in water has benefits as a pain relief method, even if you only use it for labor.
1) HOMEBIRTH: LABOR AND BIRTH
Whether in your own bathtub or shower or in a purchased/rented birthing tub, you are free to use water for comfort as you desire.
– Some homebirth Midwives own portable birth tubs that they either loan or rent to their clients.
– Some local moms own portable birth tubs that they offer for rent.
– Recent home birth moms may have suggestions on where to buy tubs/pools for birth as well.
Middle Tennessee is blessed with an abundance of homebirth Midwives licensed as CPMs. (A partial list of Midwives may be found at the TMA site.) Some take insurance, some don’t. You’ll have to check with each individually.
2) INFINITY BIRTHING CENTER, COOKEVILLE, TN: LABOR AND BIRTH
As of Spring 2018, Infinity is closed with no reopening date planned. Their Midwives are still offering natural childbirth support at Cookeville Regional Medical Center via the OBGYN and Associates office.
3) THE FARM, SUMMERTOWN, TN: LABOR AND BIRTH
The Farm is known mostly as the home base of midwife Ina May Gaskin, author of Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. The Farm is a small “community” with cabins available for rent during the weeks leading up to your birth as part of ongoing normal maternity care.
There are Midwives on staff and they have both showers and birth tubs available. (Read one woman’s Farm birth story.)
4) NORTHCREST, SPRINGFIELD, TN: LABOR ONLY
UPDATE: With the purchase of the hospital by the HCA Network early in 2021, the Vanderbilt care providers will be leaving at the end of JUNE 2021. The future availability of water labor is uncertain, as the policies and practices of any new care providers coming via HCA are yet to be determined.
NorthCrest has Midwives on staff 24/7 and supports laboring in the water, but does not allow for giving birth in the water.
NorthCrest has both showers and garden tubs in every bathroom of their labor rooms. They are wider and deeper than your standard home bathtub but not anywhere near as large as the true water birth tubs found elsewhere. The benefit is that they are available in every room, so it’s not a matter of luck of the draw. The disadvantage is that there’s not quite as much freedom of movement as compared to a full-size birth pool.
5) BAPTIST HEALTH, MADISONVILLE, KY: LABOR ONLY
Baptist has both showers and tubs in their labor rooms. When I first saw one, it appeared to be as small as a standard home bathtub. In fact, when I was able to sit in one myself (being a petite 5’2″), I could not imagine a full-term pregnant mom being able to fit inside. The one bonus is that the tub appeared to have jets.
6) VANDERBILT, NASHVILLE, TN: LABOR ONLY
Vanderbilt has true labor tubs in 2 of their 13 labor rooms. It’s a first-come-first-served situation, so if there’s someone already in both of the tub rooms, you’ll miss out on using one. Although by policy Vanderbilt does not allow water birth, these tubs are large and designed to accommodate Birth. Each of the labor rooms does have a shower. Monitoring using a waterproof handheld Doppler is available. Wireless monitoring is also available using the Monica Novii devices, but there is debate on whether these function well in water.
Vanderbilt has Midwives and OBs on staff. The West End and Melrose Clinic groups of Midwives tend to be the most naturally-supportive in practice. (If you hear people talking about the “Vandy Midwives”, they are referring to the West End Midwives.)
7) SAINT THOMAS MIDTOWN, NASHVILLE, TN: LABOR ONLY
St. Thomas Midtown has true labor tubs (same model as Vanderbilt) in 5 of their 20+ labor rooms. [As of 2018, their new birthing center suites each have a tub. A few of the standard labor rooms also still have tubs.] It’s a first-come-first-served situation, so if there’s someone already in the tub rooms, you’ll miss out on using one. But you have twice as many to choose from at STMT as compared to Vandy. Although by policy STMT does not allow water birth, these tubs are large and designed to accommodate birth. Each of the labor rooms does have a shower. (STMT was formerly known as Baptist hospital in Nashville.) Wireless monitoring is also available using the Monica Novii devices, but there is debate on whether these function well in water.
The Midtown Midwives — officially Connectus Midtown Midwifery & Women’s Health — are a small group of CNMs who work out of the Vine Hill Clinic in Nashville and have delivery privileges at STMT. (They also are one of the only provider groups locally to support VBA2C.)
There are numerous Nashville OBs to choose from, of course. Dr. Amanda Barrett and Dr. Donna Crowe are popular choices among natural birthing mothers at St. Thomas Midtown. The Women OB group that she is part of added two CNMs to their practice in 2017, Kaleigh Holthaus and Angie Long.
*Be on the lookout for a name change to Ascension Health Services in 2020 to reflect network branding.
8) BABY + COMPANY BIRTH CENTER – NOW VANDERBILT BIRTH CENTER AS OF JUNE 2021, NASHVILLE, TN: LABOR
ONLY AND BIRTH
Baby+Co opened in the summer of 2015 in Nashville. They have both showers and tubs in each of their labor suites
but presently cannot allow water birth. This is a policy change they are working towards, but they are associated with Vanderbilt and, therefore, still have some restrictions. UPDATE! Effective December 2015, water BIRTH is now available at Baby+Co!
LOCATIONS THAT OFFER ONLY SHOWERS:
BACH / Blanchfield (Fort Campbell, KY)
Gateway / Tennova (Clarksville, TN)
Centennial (Nashville, TN) — Plans were announced at the end of 2019 for adding labor tubs at Centennial in 2020!
TriStar Horizon Medical Center (Dickson, TN) — Although they have tubs in their LDRP rooms, they do not allow them to be used during labor.
Note that for locations that require intermittent fetal monitoring and don’t use a portable handheld Doppler to do it, you’ll get 30-40 minutes max in the shower or tub, then have to get out to go into the room to be attached to the stationary monitoring equipment.
Do you know of options for water labor and water birth that are not listed here? I’d love to learn about them and keep my list updated. Please share it in the comments section!
Support from a Birth Doula is another form of effective pain relief during labor. Get a free consult today!