Tammy's story of Jared's Waterbirth in South Africa

Dear Karil,

My son, Jared, was born two months ago - my third child, first waterbirth. I thought I'd like to share my short birth story with you and your readers. Previous to his birth I did little research on waterbirth, and I wasn't 100% sold on the idea. Now I am!

I was admitted into the labour ward at about 2 PM after having very mild contractions for a few hours. I was 38 weeks along, and had been in and out of labour for many weeks. Anyway, both of the resident midwives said that I was not in labour, but because I was at the hospital they had to have my gynecologist come and check on me. Good thing, too - I was already at 6cms!

I was shocked, and a little scared - my husband had taken our two other children to a friendıs house (in case this was IT) and he hadn't yet returned. My gynecologist said she would just rupture membranes to get things moving, which was fine with me. After she had done that, even the mild contractions went away! I sat DEAD STILL waiting for my husband to arrive. I have a history of very quick births, and I didn't want him to miss this one! Well, he eventually arrived (45 minutes later!). My favourite midwife, Sandra, asked if I would like to use water as a method of paid relief, which I had only vaguely considered (water, not pain relief that is!). I said that sounded good, as my bath at home had been one of my favourite places the past few weeks. I was very big this time around, and I am actually quite a small person, so the strain on my body was very bad.

One of the midwives said we could do some walking to get things going. Did it ever! After about 5 minutes of walking I said "Let's get that water thing going!" Well, they had the spa bath waiting for me. I must say I was a little nervous as I walked up the stairs and climbed into the tub, not knowing quite what to expect. I was having quite a lot of back pain, and the spray jets in the tub really helped that.

I got into the tub and after about 10 minutes I told the midwife that I needed to push, so she checked me and I was at 10cm with just a tiny rim. She looked terrified and ran to call the doctor, who arrived fairly fast. She checked me and said that I could push with the next contraction. At that point I didn't really think about the fact that I was about to deliver in the water - I just wanted to deliver!

After a few minutes of pushing hard, the pain was incredible - much worse than with my other two deliveries. It turned out that my son was sunny side up, and was turning in the birth canal! Ow! Well, that explained the back pain at any rate. Then I remember Sandra, the great midwife, saying "Tammy, he has black hair!" and my gynecologist saying "Keep your bum down!" I remember wondering why on earth she would be telling me to keep my bum down, until I remembered at one of our first consultations she had told me that it was important in a water birth that the baby stays under the water until the whole body is born. Only then did I realise that I was having a waterbirth!

My son was born at 5: PM on the first day of Spring, September 1, 2003, after only 30 minutes of labour! I am sure that being in the water definitely lessened the pain that I would have felt otherwise, as he turned inside me. All in all it was a wonderful experience, and I highly recommend it.

Regards,

Tammy