“I had a wa­ter birth.”

Me­gan Rufener, 32, se­nior ac­count di­rec­tor at an ad­ver­tis­ing agency

Glamour (South Africa) - - Health Update -

I’ ve al­ways wanted a nat­u­ral birth, and af­ter re­search­ing dif­fer­ent ap­proaches, my hus­band Bryan and I de­cided on a wa­ter birth be­cause of its many ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing re­duced stress and a greater sense of se­cu­rity for both mom and baby. Sit­ting in a large bath filled with wa­ter that’s warmed to match your body tem­per­a­ture eases the pain of con­trac­tions and helps to soften the tis­sues and lig­a­ments, which greatly re­duces the chances of vagi­nal tear­ing.

At first, many of my friends and fam­ily mem­bers were wor­ried that this might not be the safest way to de­liver a baby, but once they had heard about my re­search and seen the amaz­ing fa­cil­i­ties at Gen­e­sis Clinic in Joburg, they were on board.

I de­cided that giv­ing birth with the care of a mid­wife would feel like a more per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence to me than be­ing with a gy­nae­col­o­gist, so I chose the kind and car­ing Gail De Vos. I also de­cided not to have any pain re­lief, as I didn’t want med­i­ca­tion to af­fect my baby.

My preg­nancy was pretty easy, and I worked right up un­til the day when I gave birth. The only prob­lem was morn­ing sick­ness, which was more like all-day sick­ness for me: five months of it! It didn’t help that there’s a tree in our gar­den with a dis­tinct smell – it was hard to avoid and al­ways made me ill.

At 11pm on a Mon­day night, I went into labour, two weeks be­fore my due date. I didn’t know I was in labour, as the con­trac­tions didn’t match Gail’s de­scrip­tion, but I was in and out of our bath­tub, which helped ease the pain. At 5.30am, Bryan called Gail and she met us at the clinic 30 min­utes later. My wa­ter broke as soon as she ar­rived, and I was im­me­di­ately put into the large stone birthing pool .

For the first three con­trac­tions, I sat fac­ing Gail who was out­side the pool. I found it dif­fi­cult to push, and went onto my knees and held onto the edge of the bath. This helped and the baby started to crown. Once I sat back down, Gail took my hand so that I could feel the top of my baby’s head, which was stick­ing out. Af­ter one fi­nal push, the baby slipped right out. Gail scooped her out of the wa­ter and placed her on my chest. My daugh­ter Saf­fron was born at 7.05am and weighed a healthy 3kg.

The whole ex­pe­ri­ence seemed so in­cred­i­bly fast to me, and I felt great af­ter­wards. The next day, I was up and func­tion­ing, and apart from feel­ing slightly tired, I was back to my usual self within a week.

I loved every mo­ment of my birthing ex­pe­ri­ence, and I be­lieve that it has ben­e­fited Saf­fron; she came when she was ready to come out and she had an easy tran­si­tion into the world thanks to the wa­ter-to-wa­ter en­vi­ron­ment. We also did a de­layed cord clamp, which meant that she was still at­tached to her um­bil­i­cal cord un­til all of the blood and fluid from the cord ran into her body.

All in all, the wa­ter re­ally eased the pain, assisted with my move­ment and pro­vided weight­less­ness. Hav­ing Bryan there with me also meant that he could hold Saf­fron as soon as the cord was cut, and I could be­gin breast­feed­ing her im­me­di­ately. In fact, it was all so suc­cess­ful that I def­i­nitely plan to have a wa­ter birth when we de­cide to have baby num­ber two!

WA­TER BIRTH: THE PROS AND CONS

“Dur­ing a wa­ter birth, part of the labour, the de­liv­ery or both take place with the mother in a birthing pool – a large bath­tub filled with warm wa­ter. This ap­proach can help to ease pain, as mus­cles and lig­a­ments are soft­ened, and it al­lows for mo­bil­ity, so that the mother can find the most com­fort­able po­si­tion for de­liv­ery. The risks are rare, but they in­clude the chance of the baby in­hal­ing or get­ting an in­fec­tion from the wa­ter,” says Dr van der Merwe.

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