Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Build a Birthing Tub

Our first two daughters were born in hospitals. While we have no complaints about the ultimate product of those births, we weren't thrilled with our very questionable hospital experiences. For our third daughter, we went to a birthing center and we finally found the birthing experience that my wife and I had been hoping for. One of the things about the birthing center that my wife particularly liked was the ability to labor and deliver in water--something that few hospitals allow.

For our fourth daughter, we are having a home birth. The tub at our house is too miniscule for any but the smallest people to labor and deliver in, so we have had to search for other options. Our midwife has an inflatable birthing tub that, while it looked good, my wife didn't end up liking very much. There was nothing in particular wrong with it, but she didn't feel comfortable with the sturdiness or the feel of the tub.

Back to the drawing board we went. While we don't have a ton of money to throw at the problem, we went ahead and purchased a 150 gallon Rubermaid stock tank from our local Tractor Supply.

Now, this stock tank looks none too comfortable to labor and birth in. Plus, the fact that it is black can make any number of issues hard to see during the labor and delivery process. So we made some improvements on it for comfort and cosmetics.

The first thing we did was to get pipe insulation and go around the top edges. This made the sides of the tub comfortable to lean on, not the hard-plastic edges that you see in the picture. Then we cut a foam mattress to fit the bottom of the tub. We used an "egg crate" mattress topper duct taped to the inside walls of the tub to add extra comfort. And on one edge of the tub, we taped in some pillows.

On top of all of it, my wife put a white sheet that we no longer use for an old queen sized bed. Then we used 4-mm clear plastic drop-cloth liner. We duct taped the whole thing down.

The end result looked better than I thought it would. The final touch was the use of an RV drinking hose (no lead!) and a sink attachment from a waterbed fill kit. The only thing left was a trial run.

It took about 30 minutes to fill the tub, and it was the best bath my wife has had for years. It is deep enough to cover her whole body and large enough to provide many different laboring positions. Emptying the tub took longer--a good hour or more. The tub itself was reasonably expensive--around $130. But most of the other supplies we had lying around or cost under $10.

The resulting price and work was well worth it, though. My wife is due in one week and has the confidence that our home water birth will be a peaceful and loving experience.

1 comment:

Ami Thompson said...

Awesome! Picked up my tub yesterday and am putting it together today! Hope to use it sometime this week! Thanks for posting about this. My husband is excited about the next project :stock tank hot tubs. Found a lot of fun info there too! Maybe the next birth could be outside.