Mercy Medical Center offers water birthing
Expectant mothers now have more options
07 / 10 / 2007
Maria Nelson, Media Relations
Affinity Health System
(920) 554-0686 (pager)
OSHKOSH, Wis. – Amanda Jagla-Nimz was excited about welcoming her first child into the world, and she was determined to have a natural childbirth.
The 29-year-old Neenah woman was receiving care from Jennifer Taubel, an Affinity Health System nurse midwife, and she was taking an Affinity hypnobirthing class. Hypnobirthing teaches women how to use their own natural birthing instincts, which then frees women from emotions that lead to pain, causing fear and unyielding muscles.
The one aspect of a natural childbirth that caused Jagla-Nimz apprehension was the pain associated with the process. “You hear all the scary stories,” she says.
So when Jagla-Nimz heard that the obstetricians and midwives at Mercy Medical Center were beginning to offer water birthing, a trend that became popular in Europe in the late 1970s and is gaining popularity in the United States, she was intrigued. “After talking with my midwife and doing research on the Internet, I knew that was the route I wanted to go,” Jagla-Nimz said.
On April 28, Jagla-Nimz gave birth to Anna Rose in the first water birth at Mercy.
Water birth, often referred to as a “gentle birth,” allows an expectant mother to labor and give birth in a tub with water heated to 90 to 101 degrees. Water birthing can make labor and birthing more relaxing for both mother and infant. “The warm water relaxes the mother’s back and pelvic muscles and takes the weight of the baby off the back and hips,” says Taubel. “Relaxation from pain relief helps the baby come down.”
The benefits of water birthing that contribute to the gentle birth reference include:
- Relaxes the mother and can increase her energy.
- Reduces the need for pain medication.
- Creates support and equal pressure on all parts of a woman’s body.
- Uses less energy and reduces anxiety for mother and baby.
- Decreases mother’s blood pressure.
For Jagla-Nimz, the effects of being in the warm-water tub were immediate. “Thanks to the hynobirthing techniques, I stayed at home for the first 12 hours of labor,” she says. “I came to the hospital around 3 a.m. and at 5 a.m., I entered the tub and was able to relax immediately because the buoyancy of the water takes the pressure off of you.”
During a water birth, the mother gives birth under water in a birthing tub. This special tub is larger and deeper than a regular bathtub and it allows the mother to try a variety of different positions during labor and delivery, says Deb Zelhofer, an Affinity nurse midwife. The baby emerges into the warm water before being brought out to take his/her first breath.
“Babies start breathing when they feel the cooler air,” Zelhofer says. “The baby goes from the fluid in the womb, into the warm water of the tub. Your baby receives oxygen from the mother through the umbilical cord during the first few moments that the baby is underwater.”
The same monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat that is done by Affinity nurses for a “land” birth are also done with a water birth.
Water birthing is just one of a series of options available to expectant mothers who see an Affinity Health System provider. In addition to the water birthing and hypnobirthing, Affinity offers patients natural childbirth, hydrotherapy and the opportunity to be treated by midwives. Affinity also has one of only two Neonatal Intensive Care Units in the Fox River Valley located on the
And just because a woman plans to have a water birth, she can still change her mind when she gets into the tub. “They can use the tub for relaxation and pain relief during labor but still choose to get out and deliver in bed if they want,” Taubel says. “Birthing in water is not for everyone. “We try to provide expectant mothers with as many choices as possible.
“If an expectant mother is interested in water birthing, she should speak to her health care provider,” Taubel says.
Jagla-Nimz says she would change nothing. “The entire experience was better than anything I could have hoped for. The entire staff at Mercy BirthPlace was incredible. They made us so comfortable and were so reassuring.”
Affinity Health System offers a one-hour class monthly for people wanting more information on water birthing. Contact NurseDirect at (800) 362-9900.
For the Editor:
Affinity Health System, a faith-based regional health care network, is the Fox Valley’s second-largest employer, according to the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry. For the fourth consecutive year, Affinity has been named one of the nation’s top 64 health systems based on clinical performance according to Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of health care. For ten consecutive years, Affinity Health System has been named to the SDI (formerly Verispan) Integrated Health Network Top 100, an annual assessment of the 100 most highly integrated health care networks in the nation. Both St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton and Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh rank among the top 1 percent of hospitals nationwide in terms of quality and efficiency, as determined by the 2007 Premier | CareScience Select practice National Quality Award. Members of Affinity include Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Health Foundation, Oshkosh; St. Elizabeth Hospital and the St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, Appleton; Affinity Medical Group, a regional network of 25 family practice and specialty clinics – 22 of which are recognized as NCQA Level III medical homes, the highest level of recognition – in 14 communities; Calumet Medical Center, Chilton; and Affinity Occupational Health.