Can I Have a Water Birth Locally? | Northwest PA Doulas

Water Birth 

This is one of our most frequently talked about birth options! Unfortunately, if you're looking to have one locally, there aren't many options. Hydrotherapy during labor, however, is allowed at a few local hospitals. 

Saint Vincent, Allegheny Health Network, Erie PA 

If you choose to birth at St Vincent, they do have a few options for hydrotherapy. Each labor room comes equipped with a shower and some rooms have a birthing tub. While policy says you cannot actually birth your baby into the tub, it is sometimes admissible to labor in it. Each provider sets their own standards, carefully considering each patient's unique history to determine if this type of labor is the right fit. 

UPMC Hamot, Magee Womens Hospital, Erie PA 

If you've visited a friend or taken a tour of the Women's Hospital of UPMC Hamot, you know that there's a good possibility of getting a gorgeous view of Lake Erie while you're there. However, if you're looking to birth in a tub, this may not be your best choice. Depending on your health & circumstances, Hamot allows for laboring in the tub (they have one in every birthing suite), but policy does not allow for water births. 

Meadville Medical Center, Meadville PA 

As of now, Meadville's Labor & Delivery unit does not offer tubs to labor or birth in. Each room does have a private shower for you to labor in, though. Hydrotherapy can be very effective through use of a shower. 

UPMC Northwest, Seneca PA

UPMC Northwest does not currently offer birthing tubs at their facility. Each of their birthing suites are equipped with a private shower. 


There are many homebirth midwives in our area that are very comfortable with birthing parents using hydrotherapy during labor & birth. Many homebirth families choose to buy or rent a birth pool and birth in the water. If your goal is to actually give birth in the water, this is an option that would help you achieve that goal. For a list of local midwives, contact us! 

Dad catches baby as baby is born in water homebirth

What are the benefits of a water birth? 

  • Pain Relief- Many midwives call hydrotherapy during labor & birth "nature's epidural". 
  • Water increases the birthing parent's energy. 
  • Easier to change positions; You feel lighter. 
  • Water immersion often helps to lowers blood pressure. 
  • Water helps the perineum and pelvic floor to stay relaxed and open. 
  • And many more! 

What are the risks of a water labor or birth? 

There isn't a lot of research showing risks of hydrotherapy during labor or birth. Some doctors and researchers have theorized that there is a potential for the baby to take a breath before they are exposed to air. Typically this doesn't happen. Another potential risk is that the umbilicial cord could be too short and potentially snap when placing baby on the parent's chest. This can be eliminated by carefully and cautiously lifting and placing baby on the parent's chest after they are born. 

For more in depth information on water birth, click here.