Water Births Gaining Momentum

Forget C-sectionversus natural delivery — the latest debate for moms-to-be at Broward Health Medical Center is bed versus bathtub.

Having a baby while immersed in a giant tub of warm water may have once been seen as a radical practice, but water births are going mainstream and two hospitals in Broward County have now embraced the option.

Advocates of water birth say that it helps relax the muscles, making the pain more manageable and, in many cases, helping the labor process move along more quickly. It’s even covered by health insurance these days.

“The media and our culture tell us childbirth is scary and dangerous, but really birth is a normal physiological event. Women can learn to work with their bodies. That’s what we support, we are there to support them throughout,” said Vivian Keeler, a certified doula, or childbirth assistant, at Amazing Births and Beyond in Hollywood.

Water birth came into the limelight in 2008 with the Ricki Lake-produced documentary “The Business of Being Born” that shows her giving birth at home in water after having had a bad experience in a hospital the first time around.

“Now, with a hospital option for those more comfortable in a hospital setting, it has exploded — doubled at least,” said Keeler, who has been a certified doula for 12 years and a chiropractic physician for 26 years.

Jennifer Goldman, of Plantation, herself a family physician, was the first woman to have a water birth at Broward Health Medical. “It is phenomenal and very rewarding,” she said.

She owes the experience to the efforts of her doctor, Delisa Skeete Henry, whose practice is based at Broward Health and who helped initiate the program at the hospital last August.

“It’s so rewarding to see moms have a sense of accomplishment,” said Skeete.

Skeete said women who give birth in water all seem empowered by the experience. New moms walk away confident and this transfers to the kind of mother they will be, she said.

After two hospital deliveries, the first of which ended in a cesarean section, Goldman knew she wanted to attempt the most natural childbirth possible “The third time I decided I wanted to have the kind of birth I always wanted,” she said.

Nearing the end of her pregnancy, she began to weigh her delivery options.

“I didn’t think I would be able to do it at Broward General,” said Goldman. “It wasn’t until the last few weeks that I asked Dr. Skeete and Vivian and found out they had just put a program in place.”

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