ABC12 examines the growing popularity of water births - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

ABC12 examines the growing popularity of water births

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(05/12/14) - Childbirth is a very emotional and magical time for women, and today, many expecting moms are exploring options that deliver the child birth experience they desire.

Many expecting moms are taking control of the childbirth experience - deciding where and how they want to deliver their bundle of joy. The use midwives and home births are becoming increasingly popular.

The rhythm of a beating heart of an unborn baby is like sweet music to the listening ear of an expecting mother. When it comes to bringing this precious life into the world, many expecting mom's these days are turning to midwives.

Jeanne Phillpotts is a certified nursing midwife. She assists expecting moms with deliveries in a hospital setting that's made to feel like home.

"They are looking for a more natural more gentle birth experience," she said. "I have the women bring things from their own home a focal point, we use aromatherapy, we use message."

She's attended more than 1,200 natural or organic births during her 20 year career.

"It means that the process is happening naturally, not to have an induction if it can be helped, not to have medication if it can be helped, to allow the the woman to move around freely and to labor in the manor that she feels makes her most comfortable," Phillpotts said.

It's this holistic approach to child birth that Jodi Hemmingway of Columbiaville knew she always wanted.

"I was really attracted to the midwife philosophy from the beginning because they treat pregnancy and childbirth as normal events," she said.

The mother of four used a midwife with all of her births. Her last two were born at home.

She's not alone. According to the CDC, 35,000 babies were born at home last year. That's the highest level since 1975.

"One thing that is nice about being at home is you are able to move around freely and try to be comfortable as a pain management technique. I could eat and drink what I wanted to throughout my labor and to be in my own settings," Hemmingway said.

Just weeks ago, Hemmingway gave birth to baby girl - Mercy. This time, not only was it a home birth - but a water birth. A birthing pool was set up right in the middle of the family's kitchen.

She says she had little concern about the womb to water birth for Mercy.

"It felt really natural and normal to me because she was transitioning from one aquatic environment to the next," she said.

Hemmingway describes the birthing experience as "gentle".

"The midwife said reach down and grab your baby, so I pulled her onto my chest and we wrapped her in some towels and kept her in the water so she stayed warm. We got to have skin to skin contact immediately and it was a really nice experience and I hope it was gentle for her too," she said.

So how safe is water-birth? According to the committee on obstetric practice of the American Academy of Pediatrics, "The practice of immersion in the second stage of labor (underwater delivery) should be considered an experimental procedure that only should be performed in the context of an appropriately designed clinical trial with informed consent."

"I'm sort of stymied, why they would call it unsafe - babies are in water, in the uterus, and when they come out in water, they do not take a breath until they hit the air," Phillpotts said.

"I think we have learned to think about child birth a completely different way and most people subscribe to that way of thinking - which is great, like I say, it's not for everybody," Hemmingway said.

Many hospitals will allow expecting moms to labor in water as a pain management technique, but only few allow actual water births.

As our mom said in this piece - it's not for everyone. If you are considering a home birth or water birth, make sure you discuss the risk and benefits with a qualified health care provider.
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