Water-born baby

Interested in home birth, hospital birth or private midwifery care? Questions or comments? Email Melissa Maimann or call 0400 418 448. Link

Gage Jacobsen lies serenely in his mother's arms in their room at the Cooley Dickinson's Childbirth Center in Northampton as his parents, Becky and Jonathan, prepare to take him home from the hospital. Just a few days earlier he entered the world while his mother soaked in a large bathtub, the first baby to be born in the center's new tub birthing room.

Waterbirth... "He was very calm when he came out."

The tub, which looks much like a regular bathtub, but is deeper and has a larger water spout, was installed just in time for Gage's arrival ...

Gentler entry

... The main objective of water births is to provide a gentler delivery process for mother and baby. The baby goes from the warmth of the mother's body to the warmth of the water to the warmth of her arms, ... "For the baby it's ... such a gentle entrance into the world. There is no screaming or crying." And, for the mother, she says, there is less discomfort. Soothing water ... is sprayed on the woman's ... back and stomach. "It's a nice way to labor, really decreases pain," ...

That is what attracted Jacobsen to water birth ... she had a more typical birth at Cooley Dickinson 21/2 years ago for her first child ... While she describes that delivery as a great experience, she says she is not tolerant of pain and had ... an epidural ... This time ... she was looking for a natural alternative to that.

Water, says Dr. Tucker Kueny, medical director of the hospital's Center for Midwifery Care, gives a woman buoyancy she doesn't have on land. "A mother can assume many positions that would be challenging or hard on her muscles during a land birth," he said. That, combined with the warmth of the water, decreases the need of pain relief medications or epidurals, he says.

Just as an aside, is anyone else irked that there is a medical director of a midwifery centre? Why isn't the director of the mdiwifery centre a midwife??

Gage's birth went smoothly ... He emerged into the water and went right into his mother's arms ... "He looked up and he wasn't crying or freaking out."

Gage, who weighed 10 pounds, 4 ounces, began nursing right away ...

... Cooley Dickinson Hospital began making arrangements to add water births after women expressed interest [in forums] held by the hospital to discuss restoring its midwifery services ... Those services had been discontinued in 2007 when Hampshire Obstretrical and Gynecological Associates stopped having its midwives deliver babies at the hospital. Not only was there was a high volume of women interested in receiving midwifery care, says Kueny, but many wanted access to water births ...

Cooley Dickinson established a midwifery practice in a restored Victorian house adjacent to the hospital in 2008 and proceeded to purchase a birthing tub for the hospital's childbirth center. While there already were Jacuzzi-style tubs in each room, they are not suited for delivery ... "We hope to make [waterbirth] available to any woman who is interested."

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448