“I had a water birth.”
Megan Rufener, 32, senior account director at an advertising agency
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.