Gisele Bundchen's Son Born in Boston Bathtub

Breaking from a culture where hospital births are the norm and Caesarian rates are the highest in the world, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen chose to deliver her son Benjamin in her own bathtub.

Wife of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Bundchen is one of a growing number of women who are embracing water birth, touted as a gentler way to bring a baby into the world.

And well-respected studies show water birth helps with mom's labor pains, too.

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Today in the United States, as in Brazil, natural childbirth is a medical anomaly. But here, a small, but growing number of women are choosing water births over medication and pain-blocking epidurals.

Bundchen told the Boston Globe she prepared for her Dec. 8, 2009 delivery with yoga and meditation and "didn't want to be all drugged up" when she gave birth.

While birthing in warm water isn't new, Bundchen's high-profile home delivery brings a lot more splash to the concept.

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"If you think about it, it makes sense philosophically," said Dr. Tracy Gaudet, an obstetrician and executive director of the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine in North Carolina.

"Think about the fetus living in water. Instead of going from the dark, warm water environment to the sudden shock of the outside in that moment of birth, there's a more gradual transition," she said.

In a water birth, mothers sit waist-deep in water heated to simulate body temperature through labor and delivery. Within seconds of the baby emerging, the midwife or doctor brings its head above water.

The cord can be cut in or out of water, depending on a woman's choice.

While Gaudet has never delivered a baby in water, she said she would be "game" to try. "It's a little gentler and kinder to the baby," she told ABCNews.com.

She advises that if the water birth is at home, midwives have a back-up plan.

"I am open-minded, but I've seen enough things go bad and you have to have a plan A, B and C," said Gaudet. "Labor and delivery is hopefully perfectly normal and a positive experience, but things don't always go as planned."

In an interview with Brazil's news feature show "Fantastico," Bundchen described the eight-hour birth of her son in the couple's Beacon Hill penthouse. She said she was influenced by the 2008 documentary, "The Business of Being Born," an argument for natural childbirth produced by television personality Ricki Lake.

Home Births in Minority

Ana Paula Markel, who was quoted in the film, is a friend of Bundchen's who works as a doula, or childbirth assistant, in Los Angeles. She has said that Bundchen's decision could persuade other women to consider a water birth.

Other celebrities who had home deliveries include actress Alyson Hannigan, model Cindy Crawford, singer Erykah Badu, actress Maria Bello, and another Bundchen friend, Michelle Alves, a Brazilian model and the wife of Madonna's manager Guy Oseary.

Only one percent of all births in the U.S. are at home, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Induction rates rose 5 percent in 2005 to 22.3 percent of all births -- double the rate since 1990, according to the center. Caesarean deliveries have also jumped -- to more than 30 percent of all births, a 46 percent rise in the last decade and a 4 percent increase over the 2004 record.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend water births, although it is described in its consumer publication, "Your Pregnancy and Birth."

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