KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 (Bernama) -- Choosing to deliver a baby in water is not exactly a new method, yet many women remain skeptical over this method.
The water birth method, made popular in advanced countries in the late 1990s, is not widely practiced in Malaysia as it is riddled with misconceptions that caused anxiety among potential mothers.
A major fear is the risk of the baby drowning in the water during delivery.
The media publicity that surrounded the birth of the first child of former astronaut Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, Sophea Isabella, through this method two years ago, seemed to have attracted some interest in the society towards this unconventional method of delivering a baby.
Nevertheless, hundreds of children in Malaysia have been welcomed into the world in water since the method was introduced five years ago in two hospitals in the country namely Island Hospital in Georgetown and Hospital Pantai Kuala Lumpur.
A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE
For potential mothers wishing to give birth in a natural, calm way without the help of any drugs this method has been touted as one of the best options.
One mother who testifies to this is Singaporean, Ar'nie Rozah Krogh, 38, who gave birth to her youngest child in water.
Ar'nie who had given birth to three children the conventional way on a maternity bed, decided to give birth to her fourth one under water.
"There is definitely a vast difference between delivering a baby in water and on a bed.
"If I had known about this method earlier, I would have given birth to all my children this way."
Ar'nie gave birth to her fourth child at the Pantai Hospital under the guidance of Obstetrics and Gynecology specialist, Dr Choong Kuo Hsiang in July last year.
Ar'nie, who is married to a Danish, said she took the decision to give birth in water after facing some complications in her previous deliveries including the delay in cervical dilation and insufficient amniotic fluid that led to an induced labour.
All of her three children were born overseas and the induced labour left her slightly traumatised. Therefore she started looking up for more information on water birth on the Internet when she got pregnant with the fourth child.
Ar'nie, who was then living in France with her husband, said while she was looking in the Internet for information on water birth she chanced upon Dr Choong's name. She then informed her husband and they then decided to come to Malaysia where she would give birth.
"I met Dr Choong when I was into 32 weeks of pregnancy. All went well until the moment of birth and I faced the same problem of insufficient amount of amniotic fluid and delay in the cervical dilation," said Ar'nie who now runs a consultancy firm on therapy and motivation in Malaysia.
"As soon as I entered a special tub with warm water at 37 degrees Celcius, I had a calm feeling and there was also a reduction in the pain," she said, adding that she had to be warded for four days.
"I was having contractions for three days but the cervix failed to dilate sufficiently. I was allowed to do activities throughout this period including light exercises and yoga."
On the fourth day, medication was given to help speed up the cervical dilation, and once the opening reached seven centimetres, Ar'nie was led to a tub of water that had been prepared for her to give birth in.
"When I felt my own body floating in the water, I felt very comfortable. The water was like a natural pain killer."
"Once a mother is in the water, she is free to choose the most suitable position and when the contractions become stronger, she will be able to push the baby out more comfortably," she said.
Having a calm frame of mind would help make the process of giving birth even more easier, said Ar'nie, whose water birth baby daughter, Ariena Ayla, is now one-year old.
A MOTHER'S CHOICE
Dr Choong explained that a floating body in water would help reduce the burden of body weight and allow the pregnant woman to move freely in the pool that has been prepared for her.
"It is another alternative method for pregnant women to deliver their babies in a way that is most comfortable for them.
"They are free to choose the position most suited for them to deliver their babies," Dr Choong said, adding that there has been an increase in the number of mothers choosing water births. Pantai Hospital itself had welcomed close to 100 babies this way since the method's introduction in 2009.
He also said that in the event a mother changed her mind or did not feel comfortable giving birth in water, she could request to give birth on a bed on standby at the labour room.
During the process, the pregnant women are also allowed to step out of the tubs to go to the bathroom or even have a drink before returning to the tub.
However, women who have taken medications like epidural will not be allowed to give birth in water.
He also said the health of the pregnant woman would be checked beforehand and only those who could give birth normally, would be allowed to use the water birth method.
On the question of risk for a baby to drown during a water birth, Dr Choong said that the risk and percentage of babies drowning during such birth in countries using the method such as the United States, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and United was small -- at below one per cent.
According to Dr Choong who will be retiring at the end of August, this delivery method costs around RM6,000 with the hospitals providing this alternative boasting for comprehensive facilities.
KK SD PR