"Water birthing was the most extraordinary experience of my life"
One mother’s intimate account of an alternative childbirth experience
Pregnant mothers are opinion magnets. Whether it’s your kindergarten best friend who resurfaced on Facebook or the neighbourhood maalishwali, everyone has suggestions on names, pregnancy diets, and whether you should opt for natural delivery, C-section or water birthing as your body nearly splits into two. Knowing what to tune out can get confusing, especially once the hormone party kicks into high gear.
Fashion designer Elodie Le Derf, who has made Mumbai her home, shares her personal experience with water birthing — where the mother is immersed in a pool of water during labour to reduce the stress and pain on both her and the baby. The concept has become increasingly popular in recent years, with Instagram as chief marketing tool. In the UK, efforts are being made to increase women’s access to birthing pools in hospitals, along with staff who are trained in this method.
Dr Gandhali Deorukhkar, gynaecologist and obstetrician at Wockhardt Hospital explains, “If the woman doesn’t have any high risk factors, she could still experiment with a water birth as it is definitely more soothing for both the mother and the baby. But this cannot be done at home. You need to deliver in a certified centre in the presence of a paediatrician who can resuscitate the baby in case of any complication.”
“Water birthing was the most extraordinary experience of my life”
I have given birth successfully two times in water. I decided to follow that route after reading the beautiful book of Frederic Leboyer’s A Birth Without Violence, which change my entire vision of giving birth.
Both my boys were were healthy, vigorous, alert and peaceful at birth. They came to the world on their own terms and emerged when they were ready. The first one took 20 hours and the second one, barely four.
My labour was never induced and both times, I had a very small natural tear which required very few stitches and which healed in one week. I was alert and conscious before, during and after the birth. We were out of the hospital in 24 hours the first time and 48 hours the second time.
I prepared with regular swimming, yoga and the Mongan method of hypnobirthing. It teaches deep relaxation through various breathing exercises, meditation practice, visualisation and positive affirmations. Once you reach that state, you allow your body to do what it’s been designed for.
I truly enjoyed my second time in labour as I felt in great control of my body. I enjoyed breathing through the intensity of the surges and feel the baby descend into the birth canal. We stayed at home for most of the first phase of the labour and reached the hospital while I was in active labour.
The pool was already filled and I jumped into it while my husband was switching off the lights, putting some candles and the music on. The warm water instantly gave me that feeling of lightness and had the expected soothing effect. My baby was born two hours after we arrived and I fell in love for the second time. It is never less amazing.
I grabbed him myself and after we removed the two loops of cord around his neck, I placed him on my chest. He started feeding right away, he didn’t cry. But I did.
Over the years, attendance of childbirth not only shifted from midwives to doctors but from women to men which, according to me, is absolute nonsense.
It is essential to trust your body and to be surrounded by people who are supporting your birth choices and who are respecting your intuition during this most intimate moment.
To prepare for a water birth, it’s important to remain healthy and fit through your pregnancy. Respect your body by eating nutritious food, stay fit and prepare your mind with positive affirmations. Keep an open mind because sometimes you cannot avoid a medical intervention, and that’s OK.
Another great factor with water birthing is that it involves the dad and lets him play an active role during the labour. He will learn to be your birth companion, your rock. He will protect you, massage you, encourage you, and help you keep your focus. Water birthing allowed me to remain connected to my body during the whole process. I was given the opportunity to experience giving birth with consciousness, without violence nor fear.
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