Barbara with a new mother she helped experience a water labor in Istanbul, Turkey




Waterbirth Certification Workshops for providers and certificates of nurses for nurses, doulas and childbirth educators have been taught in major US cities and internationally for the past 6 years. 


Barbara is working on a new book for release in 2016. " Birth, Bath and Beyond: A Practical Waterbirth Guide for Parents and Providers." 

Gentle Birth Choices Book



Barbara's niece Kaitlyn


"What a wonderful birth this was. I'm so glad I read Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper, her book gave me peace of mind during a time that, for me, was filled with certain fears."

-Carrie, mother of:

Jaden Emily
Born at Home 9/28/2004

El Dorado, CA, USA

Submitted 10/24/2006



Jennifer Padtra is grateful for another wonderful home waterbirth



I am days away from having my 3rd experience!  I will post what I hope is my next water birth experience!  I tell everyone how great it is- how physically forgiving the water birth delivery really is to the anatomy.  I labored in water & had to deliver on land with my first, labored & delivered in water with my second and hope to repeat the last birth for my third.  I cannot tell you in adequate words how grateful I am for this experience.


Stephanie Hansen-Sturm 

Studio City, California


Photo by Campbell Salgado Studios, Portland, OR






Barbara on the beach in 1988

"My introduction to waterbirth was an article in the National Enquirer of all places! Can you imagine basing almost three decades of work for mothers and babies on that sensational news rag?? Well, the story of Russian women birthing in clear glass tanks challenged my thinking about how to use water for labor and birth. My son, Sam, was born just past midnight in my candle lit bedroom with only my husband and midwife present. Right then I made a solemn promise to spread the good news about the miracle of water for labor and birth. Fast forward 28 years and here we are helping millions of families discover the empowering effects of laboring and giving birth in water. No wonder I love my job so much. Just read all the comments from mothers about their experiences in water and you will see what I am talking about. Thank you for spending some time on our site. Drop me an email and let me know what you think about the current state of birth in the world, your own birth experiences or waterbirth in general. Join with me to change the way we welcome babies into the world."

- Barbara Harper


The Oregonian newspaper referred to Barbara Harper as "the Billy Graham of waterbirth" when they described her "missionary" style of promoting waterbirth around the world. Interviewed by magazines and newspapers and websites on a weekly basis, Barbara's mission of making waterbirth an available option for all women remains steadfast.


Her expertise in waterbirth and gentle, undisturbed birth is widely sought in all areas of the globe. She has lectured in 43 countries, including many medical schools, nursing schools, midwifery programs and university women’s studies departments. Barbara has been interviewed by hundreds of newspapers and magazines and has appeared on dozens of radio and TV shows to talk about her work with waterbirth and gentle birth.

Barbara at the Breath of Life Birth Center in Largo, Florida, using midwife Adriana Algeri to demonstrate positioning in the free-standing birth pool.
August 14, 2009 - during a Waterbirth Credentialing Workshop at the Birth Center


Barbara started her career in maternity as an RN, but not your regular run-of-the mill-nurse. She was always passionate about mothers and babies, even in nursing school. Her maternal grandmother, Estella Ethel Harper Lemonyon, was a nurse and midwife and worked in rural Mercer Country, Ohio, where Barbara learned from an early age what service, sacrifice and hard work were all about. She founded Waterbirth International in 1987 after visiting Russia for the first time and sitting down with Igor Charkovsky, where she was influenced by his complete faith in birthing women and their babies. She also worked extensively with Binnie Dansby, in the early 1980’s learning to respect the cognitive, but repressed, experiences and memories of birth in all our lives.

Her research and experiences resulted in the publication of Gentle Birth Choices, book and DVD, an all time best seller in childbirth books. She also produced Birth Into Being: The Russian Waterbirth Experience in cooperation with Alexi and Tatiana Sargunas in 2000, after traveling many times back to Russia. Midwives and parents alike have called her video programs "the most inspiring birth videos ever produced."



Single with three children, Barbara has dedicated her life to helping heal the way we welcome babies into the world. Her two youngest sons were born at home in water. Her daughter, Beth, the oldest, was born in a typical 1970s style hospital birth. Barbara moved in 2009 from Wilsonville, Oregon, a suburb of Portland, where she raised her children over a 18 year period , to the beautiful east coast of Florida, near Ft. Lauderdale, where she is finally warm and living alone, but rarely home because of her demanding travel schedule.  She loves living by the ocean being the water person that she is!   You may see Barbara riding her bike along Deerfield Beach on Sundays. 

 Barbara Family

The most important part of Barbara's work is her close family:

  • Beth - 37 - Works full time for WIC, as a lactation and nutrition counselor. 
  • Samuel - 30 - Graduated from USC in Los Angeles in Electrical Engineering - working for a Medical Engineering firm and traveling all over the world, installing medical equipment in cancer research centers and married to beautiful and talented aerospace engineer, Cindy Akamine.
  • Abraham - 28 - Graduated in Mechanical Engineering & Graphic Arts at USC is now a Senior Media Production Artist at GoPro. His videos are epic  Check out his website at
  • And her grandson, Alex - 17 - A senior in Portland Waldorf High School.

Estella Harper Lemonyon

 Barbara's inspiration is

 her Grandmother, Estella    Ethel Harper Lemunyon,  nurse  & midwife for 47  years!

Barbara signs copies of her book, Gentle Birth Choices, in the new Chinese edition on November 27, 2006. Her publisher and editors from Third Nature Publishing in Taipei, Taiwan have helped her arrange for lectures in medical and nursing schools. The book or DVD have now been translated into 9 languages, helping to introduce the concept of gentle birth and waterbirth around the world.

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