Before he took his first breath on Oct. 11, baby Ethan Oliver Sawyer first felt warm water against his face followed by the warmth of his mother’s hands.
Ethan was one of the first babies delivered in the new water birth pool in Mid-Columbia Medical Center’s First Impressions Birthing Center. Water birth, or giving birth while immersed in warm water, has become increasingly popular among women who wish to avoid pain-blocking medication, explains Ann Becker, RN, CNM, director of First Impressions Birthing Center.
Above: The Sawyers with newest family member Ethan, one of MCMC’s first water-birth babies.
“The demand for water birth is growing,” she says.
Mid-Columbia Medical Center is the only hospital in the Gorge that offers the water birth option, which, Becker explains, is a “hands-off modality,” meaning providers and/or nursing staff are present, but only intervene when absolutely necessary.
“Mothers like it,” says Becker. “It gives them control.”
After having her first two babies “on land,” Ethan’s mother Cora Sawyer says water birth was gentler on her body throughout the labor, delivery and recovery process.
“Giving birth in the water seemed natural, peaceful, calming and simple. With water birth, needing pain relief didn’t even cross my mind.”
Sawyer says during the water birth, she felt a sense of control over the birthing process.
“Two nurses and a doctor were there; they were very attentive and ready to intervene had anything happened,” she explains. “They just kind of watched and coached a little bit. It was an amazing experience.”
Above: The Lane family revisits the 190-gallon water-birth tub.
Like Sawyer, K’Lynn Lane also had an instant connection with water and its healing properties.
“I knew I wanted to have a natural delivery and thought What can I do to make it easier on my body?” explains Lane. “I knew the water would be where I’d be most comfortable. I wanted to be able to move around and get into different positions as my body progressed through labor. I also wanted to do what was best for the baby and be fully present for the whole experience.”
Becker explains that for a woman to qualify for water birth, she must have a “normal” pregnancy without medical or obstetrical problems that would put her or her baby at high risk. She says the babies that have been born via water birth have arrived “super alert with wide open eyes and a great tone. It’s really lovely.”
For more information about birthing options at MCMC, contact First Impressions Birthing Center at 541.296.7210 or talk to your provider.