Include Birthing Tubs at Cooley Dickinson Hospital's Childbirth Center

August 29, 2009

To: Executives/Executive Board of Colley Dickinson Hospital

From: Women of the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts

Re: Birthing Tubs and Waterbirth at Cooley Dickinson Hospital

We, women of the Pioneer Valley, pride ourselves on the ability to think for ourselves and make our own choices.  We do our research, making sure we are as knowledgeable as possible in subjects that concern us or our families.  With the knowledge that we gain by research, we therefore can make the best and most educated choices.

If we feel that our needs are not being met, or we do not have the choices we desire and believe to be most beneficial to us, then we are not afraid to fight for that choice, or to seek that choice elsewhere.

To this end, we feel Cooley Dickinson Hospital%u2019s refusal to install a birthing tub is unconscionable.  As women interested in natural childbirth, we know waterbirth is a great, safe, drug-free option for helping to usher our babies into this world. A Comparative Study of Over 2,000 Waterbirths (see link for complete research): illustrates that episiotomy rates for waterbirth are far lower (non-waterbirths resulted in a nearly 2 times higher episiotomy rate), and a 25% higher rate of having a drug-free birth.  This and other research papers also go on to illustrate the safety of waterbirth in a controlled and knowledgeable environment for both Mother and Baby.

Since the beginning of modern water births in Moscow in the 1960's and in France with Dr. Michel Odent in the 1970's, water birth has become an increasingly accepted alternative to the medical model. In the UK today, this kind of birth option is becoming extremely popular with half of UK hospitals having installed birth pools for their local communities. Women who birth in water are often ecstatic about their births. And they tell others about their experiences. It is a ripple effect.

Many Pioneer Valley women want this option for their births and will seek out other places - namely their own homes or Holyoke Hospital or Baystate Franklin Medical Center- if Cooley Dickinson Hospital chooses not to offer this option to them.

Studies have shown water birth to be a valid, safe mode of birth. In 1995 research was complied and published into 'Water Birth Unplugged', which gathered information from 19,000 water births around the world via the leading international water birth practitioners. Dr. Paul Johnson, a neonatal physiologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England offered his findings about the newborn's dive reflex. This research provides information, scientifically confirmed, that a newborn is protected against breathing while underwater in the moments after leaving the birth canal and emerging out of the water. This research supported the existing research of two German researchers, Gerd Eldering and Konrad Selke and helped to design the safety guidelines for water birthing.

Benefits of laboring or giving birth in water include:

  • significant pain relief
  • reduces the need for drugs and interventions
  • facilitates mobility
  • enables the woman to adopt optimal positions for birth
  • speeds up the labor
  • promotes relaxation
  • conserves energy for the birthing woman
  • helps to reduce tearing
  • creates an easier birth for the mother and a gentler birth for the baby
  • lowers blood pressure of laboring woman
  • increases sense of empowerment in the new mother, increases the mother-child bonding process

These are only a few of the many benefits that local Pioneer Valley women can achieve if heard by Cooley Dickinson Hospital. If CDH wants to be in the local forefront of this movement, if they remember that women in this community can choose to go elsewhere, birthing tubs will find their way into the CDH Childbirth Center.

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