A water birth — the process of using water as pain relief in childbirth — has been a common practice for generations but it has recently been gaining popularity as an option with many mums and mums-to-be in Singapore. Choy Wan, host and new mother to six-month-old Dylan, is one of them.
In this story, the Beam Artist shares with us her water birth experience and how she prepared for it.
Melissa Lwee-Ramsay: Perhaps you can share with us what exactly a water birth is and why you decided on that.
Choy Wan: A water birth is delivering a baby naturally inside a tub of warm water. I had read many positive experiences about water birth, and how it can provide a more calming experience for mother and baby, so I wanted that for myself.
Can you describe what your delivery experience?
It was very intense as I had a fast labour spanning a total of just five hours. My water broke at 10.30pm and by midnight I went into active labour as my contractions were very strong at one minute to 30 seconds apart. I laboured at home for three hours with my husband and my doula (Ginny Phang from Four Trimesters), until I couldn’t take it anymore.
When I got to Thomson Medical, I was already 10cm dilated, which was wow! After an hour of pushing, Dylan was born just after 5am. It was intense, but very quick and I was so glad it was over and done with fast.
What are the pros and cons of a water birth?
From my personal viewpoint, here are the pros: it’s reassuring to give birth in warm water, you feel secure and enveloped in a sense, and you feel less of the ‘tearing’ sensation below. Cons are, if you can’t tolerate pain, then you can’t receive any epidural for pain relief because you have to be able to walk in and out of the tub. I opted to have a drug free experience, so feeling everything at 150% was my choice.
What are some of the key points that a mother who has chosen a water birth needs to take note of?
- To be mentally and physically prepared for an intense experience. Try to take up hypnobirthing to help. Get some exercise to increase strength and stamina.
- Have a detailed birth plan! You can speak to your gynae or doula about this.
- Mums wanting a water birth should also engage the services of an experienced doula so that your partner can be more focused on you, while someone else is assisting to make sure you are comfortable during the labour process.
- Your partner can’t be in the tub with you, so they are by your side cheering you on while you do all the physical work.
- Pack a bikini top or sports bra and remember to have that on before you head to the hospital. I didn’t do that, so I ended up going in naked (which I didn’t mind), as I had no time to dig my bag for it.
How does one plan a water birth?
You need to arrange that with your gynaecologist, mine was Dr Lai Fon Min. He is one of few doctors in Singapore that is experienced with water birth. And also find a hospital that can accommodate a water birth as currently only Thomson Medial or NUH offers water birth. Also depending on your pregnancy, your gynae will advice if you are suitable for a water birth. If you are having a no risk or low risk pregnancy, it’s fine but ALWAYS discuss and check with your doctor first.
Do you have any advice to other mothers who hope to have a water birth?
Trust in your body to do the wonders of mother nature. And be prepared to ‘feel’ a lot of intensity because an epidural isn’t an option.
Would you do it again and why?
Yes I would. Just because I can’t imagine giving birth in ‘dry air’, I think I would feel more intensity. The water definitely helped me to relax and just go with the flow.