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The Miracle of Waterbirth
Kisses for Baby Gavin
When I was pregnant with my daughter in 2001, I did an enormous amount of research on what kind of birth I wanted. It was then that I stumbled upon the Waterbirth International website and from there, I was convinced that this was the birth choice for me! I am not a huge fan of hospitals, and did not think that giving birth was something clinical, so I set out to look for other options to have a waterbirth.
At the time, I was active duty in the Air Force, and my options were extremely limited as far as where I could go for my prenatal treatment. I was initially told that there was no option for me, as an Active Duty member, to have a waterbirth because only dependents were allowed to get a referral to see civilian midwives in a Birthing Center. Since I am not the kind of person who takes no for an answer easily, especially on something this important to me, I set out to find alternatives to get what I wanted.
3 months pregnant with Gavin in Uniform
It took me about 5 months, but I was successful in finding the answer I was looking for. I found out that the Naval Academy hospital Commander in Annapolis, MD was in favor of giving the referral for complete Midwife care, so I requested to get the referral. Up until that point, no active duty member had ever been granted the referral, only dependents. But then again, no active duty member had asked! So I asked, and as the saying goes... I received! I was transferred to Special Beginnings Birth & Wellness Center in Arnold, MD for the remainder of my prenatal care.
Ultimately, I was not able to have my daughter in the Birthing Center because she was born at 36.5 weeks (you have to be 37 weeks to go to the birthing center). But the prenatal treatment that I received, as well as having the midwife present at my birth instead of an OB was a god send.
When I found out I was pregnant for a second time, I immediately went in to the health benefits advisor's office and requested the referral for that pregnancy as well. While it wasn't as difficult to get the second time, I was able to get it eventually and had the majority of my prenatal care at Special Beginnings again.
It was wonderful to see the familiar faces of the midwives, and the office was so welcoming that it almost felt like coming home. My 2nd pregnancy was mostly uneventful, except for testing positive for Group B Strep, until 34 weeks when my dear son decided he was ready to come out! I had dilated to 3cm, and was given terbutiline and put on strict bedrest for 3 weeks to get me to full term at 37 weeks. One week after I was taken off of bedrest, my water broke, and we went straight to the Birthing Center for little Gavin's arrival. Little did we know it was going to be such a quick labor!
The beginning stage of labor
My labor started at 5am on Saturday, July 10th, 2004 when my water broke. I called the midwives immediately and told them, and they told me to get to the Birthing Center now! (My birth with my daughter was only 4.5 hours long once my water broke, so we knew we didn't have much time!) We arrived at the birthing center at 5:20am, and I labored on the bed until the tub was ready for me.
Waiting for the tub to fill
The miracle of the tub!
As soon as I could, I got in the tub and while my contractions were still painful, I felt that they were infinately more manageable than when I labored in bed during my daughter's labor and that I was also in more control of the birth of my son. As I entered the warm tub, I instantly felt relief from the contractions. I could still feel the tightening, but it wasn't nearly as painful. My muscles were allowed to relax and soak in the warmth of the water, and I was able to work through the labor naturally, listening to the coaching of the midwife and my doula the whole time
That's my doula, Brenda, kneeling at my head, and Laurel (the nurse on staff) watching for my little man to come out!
Less pain, more focus on control
It was amazing how I was able to really focus internally and breathe through the contractions without thinking about how much pain I was in! Instead, I was thinking about how I could actually feel my son descending through the birth canal, and I knew that we were making progress towards his birth.
A gentle entrance into the world
After laboring for just under 2 hours from the time my water broke, I welcomed my little water baby into the world. Having waited for 3 years to have the waterbirth I always wanted, it lived up to every expectation I had! All of the testimonials that I read were right. It truly does help you focus on the labor from within, and made the whole labor so much less painful. Not to mention the benefit of having my son be born into a more gentle environment... from water to water. It was so peaceful, he didn't cry the moment he was born, and I was able to give him the most gentle birth possible.
I did it!
What an amazing experience! I was exhausted, but in the end I was so proud of myself for all of the hard work. My determination that lasted 3 years to get the birth I wanted paid off! I was so happy to have gotten my waterbirth and to have been able to welcome Gavin to the world in such a gentle way. It went so much more smoothly in the water, and was amazed at how much less painful it was! I will be looking forward to having our next baby in the water as well!
Welcome to the family!
As I worked through the afterpains of labor and birth, Daddy Freddie, and big sister Camille came to give support to me and to look in awe at the new baby Gavin. He was working himself on figuring out the whole breastfeeding thing! We were all so excited to have baby Gavin as a part of our family.
Links to waterbirth and gentle birthing choices websites
- Waterbirth International
Find all things related to waterbirth, including testimonials, information about renting tubs and equipment, as well as education on the benefits of waterbirth.
Waterbirth at home
While I did not have the option to have a home birth, (it is against the law for a midwife to practice in a private home in my state) there are options for that if you would like it.
First, you should check with your state laws on homebirths to find out if you can have your birth attended by a midwife. There is a fair amount of resources listed on the About.com website answering many basic questions about having a homebirth. See it here. Homebirths are legal in every state, but the question of legality comes in when you want to have your homebirth attended by a professional nurse and/or midwife.
You can rent a tub if you want to have a homebirth and also all of the accessories that you might need for it (I would recommend a warmer!) However, if you are due in any of the warmer months, you could opt to have your baby outside in a small kiddie pool or a birthing tub. I would make sure it's cool with your neighbors though, just in case!
You can visit Waterbirth International to check out what kinds of tubs they have available to rent here as well as other great information on waterbirths.
Great Water Birth Resources from Amazon
Links to my 2nd Water Birth Blog
- The Miracle of Waterbirth Part II
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