A modern history of water birth

Although water birth seems like a kitsch new method of giving birth amongst mums-to-be, it’s not something new in the history of giving birth. Accounts about women that birthed in shallow water dates back to ancient history. Amerindian and Greek history mention it, as well Egyptian or Maori.

Even though some women did have water births, it wasn’t the delivery method of choice after modern science offered other options for the pregnant woman. But, in recent times it has gained new popularity again in recent times and has made a comeback with many mums-to-be.

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The father of modern water birth

Birthing in water was mentioned by a Russian doctor, Igor Tjarkosky, during the early 1960s. He described back then that his premature daughter was birthed in warm water and this, he claims,  saved her life. However, the real father of the modern method is French doctor Michel Odent.

water birth, waterbirth

Having a water birth is becoming more popular amongst mums-to-be, but the practice actually dates back to ancient times.

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During the 1970s, Michel Odent popularised the method as a way to relieve labour pains. He introduced water pools in his hospital in order to minimise the use of painkillers during birth. He later realised that most women who got into warm water during labour didn’t want to go out during delivery.

The French obstetrician also studied carefully the advantages and disadvantages of birthing in water. He became one of the most important supporters of this birthing method, and he still is.

Later debates about water birth

Find out about more debates on water birth and how the method is used today on the next page…