Don't miss the placenta!
November 28, 2005 7:41 AM   Subscribe

hypnotizing photo essay from Hungary about a couple's water birth @ home, with narration in English from the wife.
posted by jonson (41 comments total)
It's remarkable how often "hypnotizing" and "NSFW" are found in the same sentance, or should be, in this case.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 8:18 AM on November 28, 2005

uh... it's a photo essay of a water birth. did you expect some sort of text essay?
posted by jonson at 8:19 AM on November 28, 2005

I wasn't sure what I would feel as I looked at these. Any feeling of judgment or discomfort is out of place as this is an incredibly personal moment, yet since this is so explicit a public display, it awakens one's entitlement to an opinion and a reaction... and then I reached those shots of the baby underwater held by strong hands, and to my own surprise I felt real exhiliration and joy.

Amazing. Meanwhile I can only hope that baby grows up with a good sense of humor...
posted by hermitosis at 8:24 AM on November 28, 2005

water birth?

I knew a lady who had her kid born into Jello. Of course, the kid dosen't realize he's been born yet, but whatever.
posted by jonmc at 8:40 AM on November 28, 2005

WTF was not safe for work about that? (Other than the obvious fact your not working)
posted by srboisvert at 8:44 AM on November 28, 2005

Women with no clothes on are dirty, srboisvert. Dirty, dirty girls.

Interesting link, jonson. That one picture on page two, where the contraction is distending and distorting her belly, whoo, kinda creepy. But like hermitosis, I felt a strange sort of exhilaration when I got to the part where the head was emerging. Neat.
posted by Gator at 8:47 AM on November 28, 2005

Old and Busted: epidurals
Sexy new Hotness: water births
posted by wfrgms at 8:57 AM on November 28, 2005

Next time maybe they should use a flash camera.
posted by beagle at 8:59 AM on November 28, 2005

I can't beleive we're all so mature that no one has commented yet about Zoltans leopard print bikini bottom. What is it about eastern europeans and inapproprite swimwear?
posted by Keith Talent at 9:11 AM on November 28, 2005

The pics where the baby is blue are kind of scary.

Next time maybe they should use a flash camera.

The light gets better as you go; it's early morning.
posted by mediareport at 9:16 AM on November 28, 2005

Keith Talent, don't you ruin this beautiful moment.
posted by jonson at 9:16 AM on November 28, 2005

Honestly, I though it was kind of creepy in an exhibitionist/fetishistic sort of way... cute kid, tho.
posted by ian madbone at 9:33 AM on November 28, 2005

I'm happy the baby made it, but not all of them do. Water births have no tangible benefit other than the unproven belief that an easier birth makes for a happier baby. It's really the parents who benefit, most likely, and the risk isn't worth it. Now that the pendulum has swung from the old birth-is-a-trauma to birth-is-an-easy-natural-experience, can't we push it back to the middle (birth is natural, it's sometimes easy, but mothers and babies can die because babies have evolved big heads over time, and the overall benefit to the species outweighs the high fatality rate)?
posted by QuietDesperation at 9:50 AM on November 28, 2005

It was kinda weird how unalarmed they were about the baby suffocating underwater. Maybe they know what they're doing, though. Cool link, anyway.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:57 AM on November 28, 2005

This was educational for me. I didn't realize how uninformed I was of the birthing process.
Gad - I *so* don't want to do that. More power to those that do.
posted by Radio7 at 10:05 AM on November 28, 2005

Oh, that was lovely. Water births still make me squicky for the reasons QuietDesperation lists, but it was wonderful of the couple to share this moment. I don't see it as exhibitionistic - if you keep reading about the state of midwifery and birthing in Hungary, you can see that she's doing this more for education than "look what we did!" I'm stunningly non-maternal, but I was cooing and getting misty at these photos. And nervous where the baby was blue.

(And snickering at Zoltan's kicky leopard-print bikini bottom. O European men...)
posted by kalimac at 10:42 AM on November 28, 2005

thirteenkiller: It was kinda weird how unalarmed they were about the baby suffocating underwater.

Until the umbilical is cut the baby gets oxygen directly from her mother's blood stream, and even during 'dry' births it usually takes some time to clear the lungs of fluid. I'm not sure how long submersion can last, though, since sooner or later the placenta has to detatch...
posted by simra at 10:49 AM on November 28, 2005

She does say the cord had been strangling the baby "for a while." Waiting for the baby to gasp seems like a smart enough animal move, though.
posted by mediareport at 10:56 AM on November 28, 2005

uh... it's a photo essay of a water birth. did you expect some sort of text essay?
posted by jonson at 10:19 AM CST on November 28 [!]

I'm with jonson. How could anyone not understand what "photo essay of water birth" would contain?
posted by Ynoxas at 11:30 AM on November 28, 2005

Listening to the heart tones - let's do it at least once, for safety's sake
(Our midwife didn't have her underwater Doppler device with her, that's why I had to do some ballet dance to allow her to do this exam)


Here's to taking potentially life-threatening health risks in support of a fad.
posted by drpynchon at 11:52 AM on November 28, 2005

I'm with jonson. How could anyone not understand what "photo essay of water birth" would contain?

I'm sure I wasn't the only one scrambling to minimize my browser after the a quick glimpse of the prelude.
posted by ian madbone at 12:21 PM on November 28, 2005

I think this might be an OSFWIE (Only safe for work in Europe).
posted by matkline at 1:02 PM on November 28, 2005

This is how we delivered our child. It was a great experience. I fail to see how this could possibly be NSFW. But I find most people to be morons so I guess I shouldn't wonder. QuietDesperation...ah never mind. It's not worth even responding.
posted by filchyboy at 1:15 PM on November 28, 2005

I'm really proud of Zoltan for finding and using the birth massage oil without me asking for it.
Maybe I should clarify - I just found some of those shots on p1 & 2 suspiciously gratuitous.
posted by ian madbone at 2:13 PM on November 28, 2005

Congratulations to MeFi for only a couple of people making bullshit claims that water birth is dangerous. :-)

QuietDesperation: Your link describes four cases in New Zealand where water-born babies had "moderate to severe respiratory distress" and in the next sentence points out that "All improved quickly with treatment, and none suffered permanent damage."

Respiratory distress after birth is very common in birth generally, and the article doesn't provide any details as to why the researchers believe their four instances are due to the water, and how they differ from the 6 percent of all births where the baby suffers respiratory distress. Essentially, citing four cases without any larger context is scientifically useless, and the BBC's charaterization of the issue as "four incidents in which new born babies nearly drowned" is utterly reprehensible nonsense, and bad science journalism at its worst.

As people point out above, as long as the baby is attached to the umbilical cord, it will not "drown". It receives oxygen in the bloodstream directly from the mother, like it has for the entire pregnancy. Cutting the cord cuts off the blood-oxygen supply, and stimulates the breathing reflex.

In most water births, the baby is brought up from underwater within seconds, making the risk of breathing in water virtually nonexistent. While it's conceivable that there could be complications related to that, the likelihood of it compared to the numerous other things that commonly do go wrong in birth is so small as to be totally negligible.

Also, kalimac: babies are usually born some shade of blue, and water-born babies tend to stay blue until they're removed from the water and the umbilical cord is cut. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the baby. :-)

I happen to know this stuff because we did a lot of research on it before my daughter was born. My wife actually labored in a tub for part of the time, and there's at least some chance she would have been water born, except that we found out she was breech later on in the process, so it ended up being surgery. Oh well.

For anyone who happened upon this because you're thinking about the method, do your own research. I can say from experience that a tub is a great tool for a laboring mom to have around, even if the birth does not take place in it.
posted by rusty at 2:24 PM on November 28, 2005

The interesting thing is, they had the pool & trapeze rig all set up anyway and the water birth was just an afterthought.
posted by pracowity at 2:48 PM on November 28, 2005

I'm jealous! I delivered my twins by emergency c-section, when all along I'd been preparing for a natural, non-medicated, doula-assisted delivery.

Great post!
posted by OhPuhLeez at 3:17 PM on November 28, 2005

thanks for this very nice find : )
posted by suni at 5:23 PM on November 28, 2005

It's so scary looking when the baby is blue though!
posted by nile_red at 5:30 PM on November 28, 2005

Rusty, thanks for the voice of experience. Jonson, thanks for posting this. I found it very moving.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 6:05 PM on November 28, 2005

It's odd that something so natural and beautiful could also be so disgusting and freaky.
/has no kids
posted by my sock puppet account at 8:13 PM on November 28, 2005

From page 6: The circle of love is completed. Zoltan gave me his love gift 9 months ago. Today I gave mine into his hands... This is the strongest bond possible on Earth!

It was this belief that led my wife to want an unassisted, private birth at home (no midwife). In her words: "I'd no more want strangers poking in my business during our birth than I'd want a stranger in my honeymoon suite. Conception and birth are bookends of a 9-month process, and they should both be private." Didn't take me long to get on board with the idea, and it was the funnest day of our lives. No drama, no trauma. Just oohs and aahs, giggles and tears. Candles, calm music, and cuddles. We had the tub ready for a water birth, but in the end she preferred to be on her hands and knees on the floor.

We trust birth, and know that birth is easy. The baby secretes hormones to say "let me out--I'm done growing". The uterus then pushes it out, with the baby wiggling along to help the process. No pushing necessary. Relax and surrender to the process. The next morning she said she felt like doing it again, and said her experience was like taking a "king-sized dump"...just relax and let it out.

Birth is as safe as life gets. Billions of creatures have been doing it for a helluva long time unassisted. It only became a "medical condition" around 1920 when a misogynistic MD named DeLee decided he wanted to be In Control of the process, and decided the best way was to ether-ize the mom, cut her to make the opening bigger (episiotomy), and use salad spoons to yank out the baby. We as a society are still feeling the effects today.

Obstetric care today is not about doing what's best for mama and baby, but instead about generating revenue while minimizing lawsuits. Your OB will never tell you that the worldwide incidence of ANY kind of birth problem is less than 5% (even counting crackhead obese moms, etc), or that the US ranks 40th in the world in infant mortality (39 countries do it better). Your OB also won't tell you that the only laboring/birthing position worse than supine would be one in which you're suspended by your ankles. They keep moms on their back just for more convenient monitoring, and encourage them to push in order to fight gravity since mom's birth canal is curving upward when she's on her back. Laboring moms left to their own intuition prefer squatting or kneeling during labor.

We as a society tend to leave things to The Experts these days. I'm glad we did the research to develop the comfort level to have the kind of birth my wife was born to have, and that our son deserved.
posted by Bradley at 9:21 PM on November 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Thank you so much for the link and for some of the comments. The day my son was born is the greatest day in my life and nothing will ever change this. Bradley - very well put.
posted by nostrada at 8:03 AM on November 29, 2005

thanks Rusty and Bradley - reading the "OMG baby is blue!1!!" shrieks from people who obviously know nothing about the natural color of a 1-second old was getting a little tedious.
posted by dabitch at 8:29 AM on November 29, 2005

oh, and squatting totally rules!
posted by dabitch at 8:31 AM on November 29, 2005

Bradley: I'm thankful that you and your wife had a good experience, with no drama and trauma as you say.

But you are painting an overly rosy picture. I am both a healthcare professional and a father, and what you are implying, that everything works out okay, all the time, is simply not true.

My wife would have more than likely perished if we had not been in a hospital when she delivered. It got very scary even having a half-dozen doctors watching her around the clock for almost 36 hours.

A friend of mine, the mother and the child would have BOTH perished if they had not been in a hospital and had an emergency cesarean. This is not conjecture; the baby was coming out ass first AND the tube was wrapped around his neck, AND the mother was starting to hemorrhage. In a homebirth setting, both would have died before even an ambulance could have arrived. Due to all the resources at their disposal, not only did both survive, but an emergency hysterectomy was avoided as well.

So, although it is true a great many births can be done successfully at home (most of our grandparents, if not our parents, were born this way), saying that nothing can go wrong with a natural childbirth is at best ignorant and at worst dishonest.

And 5% is one out of 20. Are you willing to place your child and your wife at mortal risk based on the roll of a 20 sided die?

Apparently you were, and that's fine, but it's not for everybody. I for one will take advantage of all the medical technology at my disposal. If I can whittle that 5% down to even 4% then it was worth every fucking penny.

Frankly, your sanctimonious tone is a little hard to bear, even trying to give you the benefit of the doubt.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:53 AM on November 29, 2005

I'm not saying that nothing ever goes wrong in birth. Life is risk. But comparing hospital births to home births is apples to oranges. Birth is about relaxation and expansion and empowerment, which is extremely difficult in a hospital setting where fear dominates and leads to tightening and contraction and disempowerment. I think women need to know that the risks surrounding birth are very low if the mom is healthy...much less than 5%. As I said before, that 5% figure includes all of the non-healthy moms (smokers, druggies, obese, malnourished, etc). My wife didn't even bother to get "prenatal care"...since there would be nobody involved in her birth except her and me, what was the point? She ate well, took her vitamins, exercised, rested a lot, and just trusted her body to tell her what it needed. My only real contribution was at conception, and then some fun play in the days before the birth. Prostaglandins in semen help the cervix and uterus do their jobs. To once more quote my wife: "Sex gets it in, sex gets it out".

My personal belief is that the routine "textbook" CYA interventions used in the hospital setting these days actually contribute heavily to the complication rates and unnecessary c-sections. The OB ward operates by the same philosophy as a restaurant: "get 'em in, get 'em out". They're on a schedule. The manual rupture of membranes, pitocin drips, vaginal suppositories to loosen the cervix (made from pig semen, by the way), invasive monitoring (fingers and wires), and all the other routine things done to moms to ensure the OB isn't overly-inconvenienced, and that they can testify on the stand later that they did it "by the book" are crazy, IMHO. I'm not denying that interventions are sometimes necessary to save lives, but those times are much more rare than the obstetric industry would ever admit to.

I'm a healthcare professional as well. Starting as an EMT around 1985, later an ICU nurse (still have my license), and now I'm in healthcare IT. 2 years ago I was more mainstream in my thoughts about birth, thinking a midwife (or medwife) assistant was pretty Out There. After several months of research, ignoring the fear-mongering what-if opinions of the sCare Providers (whose foremost interest is their bottom line--Obstetrics is a $15 Billion dollar industry), and watching my wife have the most spiritual and empowering experience of her life with the birth of our son, I've come to see unassisted birth as the norm, attendant-assisted home birth as a slight deviation from normal, and hospital birth as a last-ditch aberration if things go horribly wrong.

Birth is as natural a bodily function as orgasm and defecation. Birth is not a medical condition, and rarely requires medical intervention in average healthy moms.
posted by Bradley at 10:47 AM on November 29, 2005

Bradley -- I think it is important to note that while birth is not inherently a medical condition requiring hospitalization, it can become so in a real hurry. I totally agree with most of what you say about hospital birth, but also I agree with Ynoxas' point that when complications do happen, they can be sudden and very serious, and you'd better have a plan for dealing with them.

We were planning to have the birth in a birthing house in Portland, which is right down the street from a very good hospital but is not formally associated with it. I think this is very much a best-of-both-worlds approach. My wife was able to relax and not have all the negatives of hospital birth intruding, while still having emergency care literally seconds away. And as it turned out, we did need that care, since attempting a breech birth would have been quite dangerous for both her and my daughter.

What I mainly learned in the whole birthing process is that childbirth in the US is totally infested with zealots and extremists on both sides. Fortunately, they're not that hard to spot -- people who refer to baby formula as "poison" on the natural birth side for example, and people who claim that a water birth is "taking potentially life-threatening health risks in support of a fad" on the other. If you think for yourself and don't listen to the zealots, you'll probably be fine.
posted by rusty at 11:42 AM on November 29, 2005

I think it should be noted that pre-natal care is what helps you to plan for such contingencies. Bradley totally had me till he mentioned the lack of pre-natal care. If there had been a problem brewing good pre-natal care could have laid the path for a safer delivery than a home birth.

That being said we did it in a tub with a midwife after lots of pre-natal care and the whole thing went over without a hitch.
posted by filchyboy at 2:33 PM on November 29, 2005

Here is a far shorter series of pictures from a waterbirth. The father in this one is the OB who delivered my son. Ordinarily, I'd insist that the mother delivers the baby, but my son's (premature) birth ended in an emergency c-section. I do enjoy depictions of healthier births.
posted by houseofdanie at 3:20 AM on November 30, 2005

Having delivered or witnessed around 100 births both in and outside of the hospital, including my own child, I do belive that both sides have got a point. Women are really afraid of the hospitals because they do not feel well there. And the best analogy I´ve heard about birth is that for the woman to give birth naturally, she needs to get in touch with her own body in very much the same way as to have an orgasm. Being in an environment where she is afraid surrounded by frightening professionals is not going to make that happen.
Giving birth at home is a real option with high quality research to prove it. At home the woman can feel more relaxed and so is less likely to need an intervention.
On the other hand, when at home you don´t have the professional assistance that you do have in the hospital, and regardless of what some people say, unexpected catastrophies do occur and then it´s vital to be where professional help is IMMEDIATELY available.
The strange thing is, since the women are afraid of the hospitals and going home to give birth, why haven´t the hospitals changed?
Obviously, the best option is giving birth in a hospital where the woman feels as relaxed at home but with professional assistance next room.

Regarding this "hypnotizing" waterbirth photoseries. I´m supprized that no one has commented on the poop in the water. Babies don´t have a strong immunesystem, and neonatal pnemonia is a big thing. I know that not much has been documented about this risk, but I would never submit my child to start life by aspirating poopmixed water.
posted by nucleus at 1:55 PM on December 1, 2005

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