Barbara Harper’s professional inspiration began with a close and loving relationship with her grandmother, Estella Ethel Harper Lemunyon, who was a nurse and midwife for 47 years. Barbara became a registered nurse in 1975 and has worked in obstetrics, pediatrics, and cardiac and neurosurgical intensive care.
Estella Ethel Harper Lemunyon
In 1988 she founded Waterbirth International after researching water immersion principles as an option for a gentle birth experience for mother and child. She birthed two of her children at home in water. Her continuous research and exploration, first-hand knowledge with her own births, and as a practicing midwife, are her motivation to expand the use of water during labor and birth.
Barbara is a leading voice for childbirth and maternity reform, an author, an educator and an internationally recognized expert on the use of warm water immersion for labor and birth.
Barbara has been interviewed by hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and websites and has appeared on dozens of radio and television shows, including ABC Morning Show, LA Live, The Doctors on CBS. She has lectured in more than 60 countries at many hospitals, medical and nursing schools, midwifery programs. She has collaborated with architects and designers to build state-of-the-art hospital waterbirth suites.
Today Barbara is launching new learning initiatives to expand the opportunity for all birth professionals and parents to learn about waterbirth. Online courses as well as in-person training and keynote appearances are reaching students in many countries. Check the calendar and course links to find a time and date where Barbara will be near you.
Barbara’s mission of making waterbirth an available option for all women remains steadfast. Her commitment to bring evidence-based, best practices to today’s birth professionals and parents is absolute.
Become part of the wave that is changing the way babies are welcomed into the world
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
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."
The most important part of Barbara's work is her close family.
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.