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A Beautiful Birth



Tenley is a calm, watchful kind of infant, content to be held or even just quietly lie and watch her two older siblings play.

Her personality very much matches the way she came into the world, her mother says. The family planned for a waterbirth before she was born and the experience was everything they hoped it would be.

“It was so relaxing and calming,” says Sarah cradling Tenley in her arms as her 18-month-old son Adrian kicks a ball nearby. “She didn’t even cry for the first few minutes. It was the perfect birth for all of us.”

Only at Sanford

Sanford Health is the only hospital in the area to offer waterbirth. Certified Nurse Midwife Terry Engelmann said her patients find that giving birth into a large pool of warm water is a way to improve the entire childbirth experience.

“It’s a safe and natural way to deliver a baby,” says Engelmann. “Water seems to make it easier for the woman to push, to help her listen to her own body and push as she needs to.”

Each childbirth experience for the Caskey family has been totally different. The Pipestone, Minn. family had a high-intervention, stressful labor and delivery with their first child four years ago.

Their second child was delivered by a Certified Nurse Midwife at Sanford Health. Sarah said she loved the experienced medical care tied in with support and encouragement to have a natural childbirth.

During her third pregnancy, Sarah took part in Centering Pregnancy sessions, having her pre-natal care appointments tied in with group informational sessions with other expectant moms. There she learned about waterbirth.

“There was no question in our mind that this would be a great option for us,” said Sarah.

Providing Comfort

When Sarah went into labor, she was able to use a deep, fully- cushioned pool that allowed her to immerse herself up to her shoulders in relaxing warm water. Throughout her labor, which lasted about 14 hours, she could move around and change position without feeling uncomfortable, she said.

The water helped ease the pain of her contractions and kept her calm and relaxed. Her husband, Kyle was able to be there with her, standing near her head at the edge of the pool when it was time to give birth.

“I was closer to her and a lot more helpful than if she had been lying in a hospital bed,” he says. “I could tell that it was better and more relaxing for her.”

After Tenley was born, certified nurse midwives Engelmann and Teresa Buell lifted her out of the water. Since she was still receiving oxygen through the umbilical cord, there was no need to rush her to the surface. She took her first breaths as the air hit her face.

Sarah said she was amazed at how happy and relaxed her daughter was from the start. Since her infant daughter had spent the last nine months developing in the amniotic sac, being birthed into water probably felt quite normal, she said.

“It was such a beautiful time, such a different experience,” said Sarah. “I would never do childbirth any other way if I could help it.”

A better way

Engelmann said she’s found the majority of patients who have experienced “landbirth” before they try waterbirth say the same thing. Scientifically, studies have shown that women who give birth in water have:

    • lower blood pressure
    • more efficient uterine contractions and better blood circulation
    • lower levels of stress-related hormones, which allows women to produce more pain-inhibiting endorphins
    • a more relaxed and elastic perineum, reducing the incidence of severity of tearing in labor.

Waterbirth is not an option for every patient, Engelmann said. Women who need constant electronic monitoring of the baby throughout childbirth, such as needed for an epidural or induced labor, cannot have a waterbirth. Other conditions that would likely rule out waterbirth for a mother would be an infection, large amount of bleeding, high blood pressure, insulin dependent diabetes or birth prior to 38 weeks of gestation.

As her husband swings their toddler in play, Sarah rocks little Tenley in her arms. She said she was so glad to bring her new daughter into the world in an environment that was good for both her and the baby.

“When you’re giving birth, you want to be comfortable with what you choose,” says Sarah. “We did a lot of research and I can’t imagine something that would be better.”

Posted Date: July 2012

A Beautiful Birth

When it was time to have their third child, Kyle and Sarah Caskey wanted a natural, relaxing experience. Waterbirth was everything they wanted and more.