Water is our original element.
In the first 9 months in the womb the fetus develops in the aquatic environment of the amniotic fluid. Like a miniature ocean, the waters of the womb provide the ideal conditions for the growing baby, protecting him or her from shock or injury. Bathing in water continues to play an important role throughout child and adult life as a way to relax and relieve tension.
Many parents are choosing waterbirth as a way to ease the
stress of birth for their babies and to ensure a gentle
transition from the watery prebirth world to the field
of gravity on land.
When a woman enters a pool of warm water in labour, the
buoyancy of the water reduces the effect of gravity, allowing
her to float freely or change position while more or less weightless.
Many women feel attracted to water in labour and find immersion in a warm pool a helpful way to relax and surrender to the involuntary forces at work in their bodies easing the pain and discomfort of strong contractions.
Some women consciously choose to remain in the pool during the second stage of labour and to give birth underwater.
The value of using warm water during labour and child birth is increasingly being recognised. You can relax and let go, breathing calmly and deeply through the contraction and moving and changing positions to make yourself comfortable. It is possible to kneel and lean over the edge, to squat, to semi-sit or to float as you please.
You will find that birthing in water allows you to enjoy the sensual pleasure of your body and to sink into the expanded state of consciousness that naturally envelops you as your labour deepens.
Advantages of Waterbirth
Relaxation minimizes pain and decreases anxiety as adrenalin levels fall and oxytocin levels rise.
decreases blood pressure
Reduces levels of catecholamines (stress hormones)
Buoyancy assists in spontaneous rotation of the baby
Equalizing of pressure usually means perineal tearing is reduced
Submersion also induces a redistribution of body fluid so that edema or swelling are reduced.
an inspirational tale of the power of birth
through love and calm, experienced
through the soothing medium of water...
Water Birth at it's best
Deia's (straightforward) Waterbirth in 2012
I first met Mandi when I was about 5 months pregnant. Her vibrant energy along with her insightful input towards birth and pregnancy instilled a deep sense of confidence and trust within me. I knew from our first meeting that she was going to be present for my birth.
My prenatal meetings made me feel so confident and relaxed….. I was never worried or concerned about anything. In due course time rolled on, my belly expanded, and on Monday morning 23rd April 2012 (5days ‘overdue’) my mom and I sat watching a movie and she told me to please phone my doula or midwife as she suspected that I was in the early stages of labour. Well, she was right!
(She was very often right!) My doula, Louisa, happened to be down the road and she popped in and confirmed that this was indeed the day! Mandi and Louisa arrived in the afternoon and we got the show on the road…..
I focused on breathing through the sensations, making sure that I moved my body, continually focusing on calmness and serenity. The pool was in the lounge, the fire was burning, beautiful music was playing and I kept on focusing on allowing my body to do what it needed to do without interfering with the process. I got into the pool at around 6.00 pm and my whole body sang with joy! As Mandi always says, “you can’t think a baby out”, and that was exactly what I took to heart, allowing my body to go through everything without trying to label it or control it.
The entire process felt so safe as I knew exactly what was happening at each moment due to extensive prenatal preparation. I allowed my body to move freely in the water, continually breathing in calmness and speaking to Deia in my mind. I told her that this was her process and that I was here to facilitate her arrival.
Mandi encouraged me in a way that really worked for me and I feel that this is so important. In midwife – led care your midwife has ample opportunity to get to know you and Mandi definitely has the gift of tuning into one’s needs.
Deia’s arrival was so calm and gentle; she popped out at 20h06 with no tearing or stitching necessary for me. The placenta arrived soon after and everything else just flowed naturally and beautifully from there. What an amazing and peaceful start to life for our little girl!
Mika's (slightly more complicated) Waterbirth in 2013
Being pregnant and birthing Mika has been one of the strongest challenges I could have imagined; life challenged me in a way that I can only equate with having been re-born!
First, my mom passed away from stage 4 pancreatic cancer within 5 weeks of her being diagnosed when I was six months pregnant and second, since I have a phobia for all things medical (needles, doctors, white coats, medicine, needles…. Oh I have already mentioned needles!) this was the beginning of a new and not so comfortable experience for me.
Anyone who has a close bond with their own mother can imagine what it is like to lose the person who has loved you unconditionally and nurtured you with respect and freedom every day of your life, especially when you are pregnant, feeling somewhat vulnerable, and are about to become a mother yourself again.
Monday morning, August 12th no longer Braxton – Hicks contractions! Finally, my little baby had decided to join us. Five days ‘overdue’ again, and exactly the same as Deia… they were both due on a Wed and they both arrived on the following Mon. I tried to sleep, but the excitement was so intense as this time I knew exactly what was happening! At around 5.00 am I sent Mandi a text and she told me that she had also woken up at 3.00 am in anticipation of hearing from me. Although we both knew that I was in the very early stages of labour, Mandi decided to come through to me early so that we could have a proper BIRTH day! It was so lovely, as with my firstborn I was a bit clueless as to the fact that I was actually in labour and by the time that Mandi and Louisa arrived there was no time to enjoy the build - up… it was all systems go!
This time we had such a lovely, special day; breakfast, a walk, a massage and just lolling around chatting and waiting for things to kick up a gear. This time we placed the pool upstairs in our bedroom underneath all the birth blessings and photos of my family; it was the most intimate and sacred beautiful birth space. I got into the pool around noon and I am now convinced that giving birth in water should be mandatory! It is the most relaxing and liberating experience. The moment that gravity disappears you no longer have to consciously think about your physical posture or position. Instead you are able to just allow your body to move in the way that it wants to in order for the contractions to pass through. Everything became stronger and more intense as I moved and breathed through every moment.
Mika made a strong entrance at 14h54 and along with her arrival came a whole lot of blood! Mandi wanted me out of the pool as soon as possible, as it is difficult to judge how much blood loss there is when one is in a pool filled with a thousand litres of water. I got onto the bed with Mika in my arms and immediately had two heavy bleeds whilst lying down. Mandi was getting ready for serious action. We had latched Mika to the breast to try and bring on the placenta, but now my husband cut the cord and held Mika skin to skin while I got more upright to deliver the placenta. As I heard the placenta drop, I fainted. I felt as if I was gone for an eternity; I am still not sure where I went or for how long! I heard my name being called, I opened my eyes…. Mandi was elevating my legs, Louisa was staring at me with her big blue eyes and calling my name and Deon was standing next to the bed with Mika under his shirt. Oh yes! This is what I was busy doing… having a baby!
I was completely calm and relaxed throughout the whole process because I felt totally safe and secure. I never once panicked nor did I feel concerned about anything at all. This is what you feel when you trust your body and choose to birth at home with a competent team.
Mika was put on my breast once again to try to stimulate my uterus to contract and Mandi gave me a synthetic oxytocin injection to stimulate further contractions and to control the bleeding. She was considering putting up a drip but my condition was stabilising after sipping fluids and a green food smoothie to help boost my body after that ordeal. (Also lots of homoeopathic remedies from Mandi’s little bag of tricks!)
After examining the placenta, Mandi noticed that there appeared to be a piece missing. They drained the pool to see if they could find anything there, but found nothing solid. Instead what they found was something unfamiliar to all of us…..pinkish “cottonwoolly” stuff drifting in the water…. Mmm…. So, there I was, after a beautiful birth, having lost a lot of blood, fainting and then being told that there were U.F.O’s (unidentified floating objects) in my birth pool! There was also a stubborn piece of the membranes that remained behind in my uterus. Mandi tried to see if she could manually remove it but it refused to budge and with me being very sensitive so soon after giving birth she was not able to complete the deed to her satisfaction. At around 7.00 pm, after having consulted with our local GENIUS back up obstetrician Dr Estia Odendaal, her and Mandi decided that it was preferable to transfer to the Medi – Clinic as there was concern about the stubborn membranes. They also wanted complete clarity that the little missing piece of placenta was not indeed retained in the uterus.
We headed off to the Medi – Clinic, with me gently laid in the back of the car with pillows. As we drove I went through a personal self – talk form of meditation, accepting that the Universe would never give me what I could not deal with. Louisa and Mandi were so concerned about me. I felt their love and care constantly surrounding me, holding me in a love sphere. I tried to focus on the amazing positive experience that I had enjoyed during the birth and trusted that there is a place and time for everything in life. We arrived at the Medi – Clinic, Dr Odendaal whipped out her supersonic ultrasound machine and carefully scanned my uterus…. All clear! Then it was her turn and with just a tiny bit of effort she retrieved the stubborn piece of membrane and gave confirmation that the U.F.O’s were probably the missing bit of placenta, somewhat dissolved.
I was lying in the room, overwhelmed by the most amazing female energy, my mom watching over me, Mika lying next to me, my loving birth team and my fabulous obstetrician around me. My proud husband who had been incredibly calm and supportive throughout the whole experience completed the picture.
I was home within an hour, drip in one hand and baby in the other! Mandi stayed over at our house that night as she wanted to remove the drip and ensure that everything was fine.
If you had to ask me what the most traumatic part of the whole experience was for me I’d have to say…. The two injections and the insertion of the drip, which, between you and me was not so traumatic after all!
Would I give birth at home again? Without a doubt!
~ Adri, 2013
Adri's water birth stories
Birth, like death, is an event that forever changes those involved in the process.
In the short space of 15 months, I have shared two waterbirths with Mandi as well as sharing the death of my mother when I was six months pregnant with my second baby. I cannot begin to describe how invaluable she has been in my journey of bringing new life into the world, and also in processing the passing on of my mother’s life into the next.
These are the stories of those two births…. One very straightforward, one not quite so……
~ Adri minutes before Mika's birth