1000th mum wades into water birth

Baby, parents and midwife
Proud dad Matt McDonald with baby Leah in the birthing bath room. Background: midwife Ashleigh Ryman and Leah’s mum Hannah Davidson.

When Hannah Davidson was just about to give birth to her second child, her midwife asked if she wanted to use the birthing bath.

Early on in her pregnancy Hannah wasn’t sure about birthing in water as an option, but four days on from the birth of her daughter Leah, she is glad she accepted her midwife’s offer.

“It was such a nice experience, much nicer than the birth of my first baby,” Hannah said.

“It was a lot less painful and felt more natural. I would recommend other women try it.”

Hannah, who is from Ermington, was the 1000th mother to give birth in one of Westmead Hospital’s birthing baths.

A water birth is the process of giving birth in a tub or pool of warm water.

This method of labour can reduce pain by providing a relaxing environment and lower the stress hormones that increase pain.

Doctors and midwives can advise women if using a birthing bath is suitable in their particular circumstances.

Proud dad gives baby daughter a kiss.
Matt McDonald plants a kiss on his baby girl Leah.

Hannah gave birth to her baby girl Leah on Saturday 10 February, with the support of her midwife Ashleigh Ryman.

Ashleigh supported Hannah throughout her pregnancy, as part of the hospital’s midwifery group practice program.

Ashleigh said water births can create a space of comfort and relaxation.

“Water births are considered gentler for the baby and less stressful for the mother,” Ashleigh said.

“When a woman chooses to enter the bath, you notice a visible change in her frame of mind.

“When Hannah came in she didn’t feel comfortable on the bed at all. Once she got into the bath, she gained control. It was calm and beautiful.”

Westmead Hospital has six in-built water baths available in the facility’s birthing unit.

The baths are installed in birthing rooms which have features for mothers including mattresses, birth stools and exercise balls.

Hannah’s husband Matt McDonald was impressed with the ease of his partner’s labour.

“When I first heard about a water birth I was a bit wary, but it was a lot better than I expected,” Matt said.

“The whole process was quick. We got to hospital at 10.45am, baby was delivered by 11.40am and by 5pm we were at home with the baby.”

For more information about Westmead Hospital’s birthing unit visit: http://www.wslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/WNH/