Woman’s Satisfaction with her water birth experience

  • Mariana Gonçalves
  • Emília Coutinho
  • Vitória Parreira
  • Paula Nelas
  • Cláudia Chaves
  • João Duarte
Keywords: Childbirth; Water; Natural childbirth; Satisfaction; Experience.


Maternal and obstetric health specialist nurses focus their attention on the human responses to life transitions, particularly in physiological situations. The appearance of associations, in Portugal, advocating physiological and water births was the reason for this research. The present study, carried out by six researchers, was guided by the research question “What is the experience of mothers who had one or more water births in Portugal?”. This is a qualitative, phenomenological study from the Max Van Manen perspective with the aim to understand the experience of mothers who had one or more water births in Portugal. The steps of Van Manen's hermeneutic phenomenology guided this study, in a flexible and dynamic way as recommended by the author, interacting with each other to clarify the essential nature of the phenomenon. Thirteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with women who had at least one experience of childbirth in the water. The data were collected between July 2017 and February 2018, until data saturation was reached. From the qualitative analysis of the data seven categories emerged. Considering the dimension of this study only two of these categories are possible to be presented in this article, namely: the benefits of water; and the woman’s satisfaction manifestations with the experience of physiological labour in water.

When answering to the research question "What is the experience of mothers who had one or more water births in Portugal?" it was possible to reveal the benefits of water, perceived as such by women. With particular emphasis on the fact that they consider water as the key element of their childbirth experience, allowing pain relief, the opportunity to see the child born, the promotion of relaxation, and considered entering the water as the high point of the experience, which is in accordance with the conclusions of the studies presented in the literature; it was also possible to disclose the women’s satisfaction with the experience of childbirth in the water, and that women are satisfied to trust and prefer physiological birth because they view it as a positive experience, to convey a feeling of victory and to consider the nurse specialist in maternal and obstetric health as the most capable professional to accompany them. This study allowed uncovering the most significant knowledge about women's perception of the benefits of water births and the women’s satisfaction with their experience of water birth in Portugal, giving visibility not only to this experience but also to qualitative research, namely the phenomenology that made it possible.