Mention water birth to Dr. Ameet Dhurandhar and he answers in his calm tones – “water birth is a natural way of welcoming your baby to the world.”
Dr. Ameet is an expert Obstetrician, Gynaecologist (M.D.D.G.O.), a trained water birthing and Hypnobirthing practioner. He is amongst the first few Obstetricians in India to conduct waterbirths and Hydro births and the first to conduct a natural childbirth under hypnosis in Mumbai. (Hypno Birthing) He has set up a Water Birthing Center at Surya Child Care Hospital. The hospital brings unique and high-level care in pregnancy and pediatric services.
He speaks to Margo Samant about facts around water birthing, its process, his interesting journey, and water the ultimate healer. His tête-à-tête is real and spoken in all honesty and clarity!
When Kalki Koechlin (Bollywood Actor) opted for water birth, India in majority got intrigued with this unconventional choice for giving birth.
Waterbirth has been very common in the entire world with celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Gisele Bundchen opting for it. Soon catching up in India too, we got the fortunate time to get first hand wisdom from Dr. Ameet who is a firm supporter of this natural, drug-free, method of childbirth. So, let’s get started!
What is a water birth?
A water birth is spending at least part of your labor or delivery (or both) in a birthing pool filled with warm water. During labor, being in water helps with pain as it soothes things down. Water helps you to support your weight, making it easier to move around and feel more in control during labor.
The Natural way of giving birth
“Women are created to birth naturally, therefore when they are in a stress-free environment (under supervision), they can do so without medical interference. Water is a healer and it relaxes the body in the first stage of labor, allows the good hormones like oxytocin and endorphin to flow and slowly and gradually the body opens up so you don’t need to use epidurals or other spinal pain relief.” – sans complications
How does it really work?
Imagine a big birthing pool in the hospital – though people abroad prefer it at home, in India there are special birthing centers. What is beautiful is the enhanced sense of privacy associated with it. One can dress up their room with dim lights, cozy atmosphere in a home style décor with her partner, the doctor and the doula(mother’s companion to guide and support her right from her first contraction to breast-feeding the baby and more) by her side.
The warm water eases the painful contractions, promotes movement while the mother ebbs and flows with her labor. “Then we deliver the baby outside and also the placenta. We don’t separate the baby from the mother – all examinations are done in the room by doing check-ups on her. Even the pediatrician comes to weigh the baby after the golden hour – when the baby rests on the mother’s breasts for easy breast-feed” and she shares her whispers of love with her little one!
The Prep Routine
Educating about water birth is mandatory. The belief in the method makes the experience magical.
“Getting ready to give birth is no shorter or difficult a prep than preparing to run a marathon. One trains for it physically with cardio and yoga, and most essentially one works through the mind.” Courses on hypnobirthing aids that process through self-hypnosis and methodologies where you learn to be at ease, relax and work on your body by clear answers from your brain.
As early as 1803, the first water birth took place in France where the woman delivered in warm bath to relax after a 48 hours long labor and soon delivered. Legends speak of this practice taking place in Pacific islands like New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Guyana and Mongolia.
In 1970s, Russian Researcher, Igor Tjarkovsky, experimented with water and birth and started promoting it. 1983, Dr Michel Odent had his first experience with this alternative, when a woman refused to get out of the bath at the time of birth.
By 1990s waterbirth became more mainstream and its popularity grew in Australia, the UK, Europe and America.
Dr. Ameet too got into it by chance – he attended a Hypnobirthing session four years ago where he met some really trained, enthusiastic midwives, doulas and people whose energy made him start his own research on the subject and expand the horizon of his capabilities as an obstetrician.
Difficult but not impossible
Water birth is claimed to be unhealthy, because both mother and child may be prone to infections; however, researches across the globe are being conducted on water birth, which speak in proper numerical data about its successes.
Even during COVID-19, it’s said that if the mother carries the virus and the same is released whilst delivering, then it might be unsafe for the kid. But Dr. Ameet insists on solution making; he has started directing labor in water and the birth outside water to ensure complete safety.
Its still water supported, with no induction of any medicine.
“All women should try giving birth without medication because that is how it’s meant to be. It’s a massive game of patience for both the mother and us. Sometimes exhausting when the labor lasts for long.”
Dr. Ameet’s words much like his actions are sprinkled with an attitude of change and honesty. He feels females today think that hospital birth with medication is normal and he wishes for us to at least start being aware of another choice and change it slowly.
Afterall, childbirth is a huge event for everyone associated closely.
It is no small thing to bring a new soul into the world but birth is not meant to be unbearable. Natural birth allows the woman to keep her power and her strength for the birth. Water birth allows much more – less pain and less suffering, and nurture one’s belief in oneself!
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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