Mom calls water birth an “ideal” birth experience

March 19, 2019 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

It was what some expectant moms dream of for their labor and delivery. On Jan. 23, 2019, Leslie Weinzettel, 35, of Wheaton, delivered her second daughter, Morgan, at Elmhurst Hospital in a warm tub, with a doula and a certified nurse midwife by her side, and without the need for pain medication.

“It was really beautiful. It was your ideal birth — extremely manageable,” she says.

Mom to now 21-month-old Mariah and 1-month-old Morgan, Weinzettel chose to have certified nurse midwives (CNMs) as her care providers for both of her pregnancies.

As advanced practice nurses, CNMs are specialists in low-risk pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and women’s health. They are trained and licensed in ways to help laboring women have a natural, personalized experience with the choice of alternative comfort measures.

“It was important to me to have a natural birth without drugs and, in my opinion, midwives tend to be more supportive with that approach and more knowledgeable about the options,” says Weinzettel.

When she first became pregnant, Weinzettel explored the option of a water birth. She attended a natural childbirth class at Elmhurst Hospital, which emphasized the pain relief benefits of bathing in warm water during labor. A number of her friends had also had water births, and even home births.

Weinzettel knew she wanted to try for a water birth, but she also wanted to be in a hospital setting.

Her friend, a labor and delivery nurse, recommended Elmhurst Hospital, which offers a group of CNMs who deliver babies exclusively at the hospital, and offer hydrotherapy as an option for labor and birth.

“We felt safer in the hospital but we also wanted a water birth. Elmhurst had the option of a tub, the midwife group, and in the hospital. It was everything we wanted, and the best combination for us,” she says.

Her and her husband, Joe, chose Midwifery and Women’s Health of Elmhurst Clinic, a group that she says was very accommodating when she was pregnant with Mariah. “I had bleeding early on. We called several places but couldn’t get seen right away. When we called Elmhurst, they could see us in 30 minutes,” she says.

“We went in and I saw Marybeth [Waldorf]. She was amazing, sensitive and caring. That was our introduction to the midwife group. We couldn’t have been happier,” she says. Marybeth Waldorf, CNM, APN, is a certified nurse midwife with the group, and attended baby Morgan’s water birth.

“I've been caring for Leslie since her first pregnancy. She was having some early concerning symptoms with her first and she came to see me initially. She is lovely. For most of her second pregnancy she was with her daughter and I can tell she's a fabulous mother,” says Waldorf.

Throughout her pregnancies, Weinzettel rotated through seeing each of the midwives in the group for her prenatal checkups.

When it was time to have her first baby, Mariah, on May 23, 2017, Weinzettel labored in water, but couldn’t stay in the tub because her daughter needed continuous fetal monitoring. “I wanted to have a water birth with Mariah but her heart rate wasn’t steady enough to give birth in the tub,” she says.

About two years later, when Weinzettel was ready to deliver her second baby, Morgan, her wish for a water birth fell into place. “Again, they did a 30-minute monitoring of the baby’s heart rate to make sure it was stable enough for me to stay in the tub. My first daughter didn’t pass the test, but my second did,” she says.

Weinzettel was in a private birth suite at Elmhurst Hospital, equipped with a whirlpool bath tub filled with warm water. “I got to climb in the tub and labor in there, breathe through contractions and move into different positions. The water really helped with the pain. It was relaxing. And when I got ready to push, Marybeth leaned over and caught her. It was way easier than my first birth,” she says.

Says Waldorf: “After Leslie was monitored and everything was looking good, we got the tub filled. Leslie said it felt great. I waited near the tub while she worked through the last contractions, which are always tough.

"Her husband provided encouragement and support and kept her hydrated. Her doula arrived and assisted her with coping as well. She did amazing and had a beautiful healthy baby girl. It was a great experience for all involved. I always feel privileged to be a part of someone's birth.”

During both births, Weinzettel also had a certified birth doula, Tara Van Dyke, ICBD, from With U Parenting in Wheaton, who she says assists with quite a few labors with the midwife group. A doula is a person trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.

Although she had the option of an epidural (coordinated with an anesthesiologist and the midwives), Weinzettel chose a drug-free labor and delivery both times she gave birth. She says her second experience was much different than the first, and attributes the water birth as a big part of it.

“With Mariah, I had to get out of the tub and give birth on my back, and I had to push for two and half hours. It was challenging,” she says. “Morgan was fast. I got in the tub and she was born an hour later at the most. I only pushed for maybe 15 minutes,” she says.

After Morgan was born, Waldorf put her on Weinzettel’s chest. “We were both in the water. It gave us a chance to bond,” says Weinzettel.

“I would highly recommend water birth for other families. I think it makes such a difference for labor. Even with my first daughter, although I wasn’t able to give birth in the tub, my favorite part of labor was when I was in the water. I think it should be standard practice,” she adds.

Waldorf describes a water birth: “Women usually have a distinct response to the tub in labor. For some it doesn't feel right, but most do not want to get out! During a water birth the pushing phase is guided primarily by the mother. She is generally calm between surges and is able to push when she instinctively feels the pressure. The birth tends to be very hands off. Women appreciate the calm environment and the baby is immediately brought to the mother's chest. There are usually tears of joy.”

With her first baby, Weinzettel needed to stay two nights in the hospital. The second time around, the family got early release and were home the next day.

“These were two really significant life events, and I’m just really grateful for the midwives for their support,” says Weinzettel. “It was a phenomenal experience. I’m super grateful. We got excellent care. The hospital is a great facility and the midwives are experienced, kind and really knowledgeable,” she says.

Learn more about labor and delivery at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

About our midwifery services

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we believe in giving you options for your birthing experience. With experience in more than 1,600 births, our team of certified nurse midwives can offer expectant moms a range of alternative comfort measures, such as warm water immersion for labor and birth (water birth) and nitrous oxide for pain relief (Elmhurst is currently the only hospital in DuPage County to offer this).

“CNMs offer personalized care for moms-to-be throughout pregnancy and labor. Many women have preferences about how they would like to manage labor and birth. If at all possible, the midwives at Elmhurst Hospital try to facilitate those preferences. It’s not possible for everyone, but when it is, it is really a beautiful experience,” says Waldorf.

While caring for expectant mothers is an important focus, CNMs also offer well-care services for women at all stages of life.

While most women are good candidates for midwife care, some are not. If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the CNMs at Elmhurst Clinic offer a free consultation to review your history and determine if midwife care is right for you.

Learn more about midwifery services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Related blogs:

Midwives: delivering another option for moms-to-be

8 options for a more comfortable labor

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