I have recently discovered that there are some care providers that are telling women that if their BMI is too high that they risk out of having a waterbirth.
The answer is a little complex and will take me several blog entries to adequately answer.
In many birthplaces, women of size are "permitted" to labor in water, and in some they can actually push the baby out in water too. In fact, many women of size have given birth in water just fine. You'll find many such waterbirth stories on my website in the BBW Birth Stories FAQs.
Disclaimer: Of course, I have to admit I am biased in the matter. I labored in water for 3 of my 4 births (including one hospital labor), and my last child was actually born into the water. My waterbirth was by far my best birth, and I found being in the water TREMENDOUSLY helpful. I have heard from many other fat women who feel similarly about their waterbirths.
So I am a INCREDIBLE fan of waterbirth, particularly for women of size. But even had I not had personal experience with it, waterbirth makes simple common sense for healthy women of size. Restricting access by BMI is an incredibly short-sighted rule on the part of hospitals and birthing centers, and it needs to be changed.
Rest assured, if you are interested in waterbirth, there ARE birthplaces where fat women can labor (and birth) in water, if they choose to.....including hospitals, birth centers, and of course at home. But you have to choose your place of birth carefully and ask a lot of questions if you want the waterbirth option.
I look forward to the day when waterbirth is universally available to all women, regardless of size.
P.S. The photo above is of labor in water in a "morbidly obese" woman, just before crowning (just before the head appears). The baby was born safely into water shortly after this picture was taken.
Coming Soon: Why Waterbirth Is So Great For Fat Women