By the time Karen Luckie had given birth, practically the entire OB unit staff was in her room. "We had at least 20 nurses and doctors watching," says Luckie. And all because of her unique method of giving birth — in a pool of water.
"We just bought a kiddie pool and took it to the hospital," Mark, her husband, deadpans.
He's not joking. While many water birth websites sell a variety of heated birthing pools, the Luckies went with the standard summertime favorite: a blow up pool. Mark says, "Well, it was three feet deep, and I had another pool as back up."
Karen adds, unfazed, "Yeah the first one sprung a leak."
The image of labor via inflatable play toy would leave a lot of would-be moms freaking out. In a society conditioned to expect IVs and epidurals, Karen's approach might sound uncomfortable and more than a little bit bizarre.
But Karen says it's just the opposite. "It was so peaceful. We had them dim the lights, and we had soft music playing. At one point I just laid on the bed and dozed off, but that was part of the Bradley breathing method." The Bradley Method is a breathing technique designed to help mothers give birth naturally.
Most doctors won't allow the laboring mothers to submerge until she's five centimeters dilated, at which point Karen and Mark got in the pool.
"That's the thing about it, the spouse really gets to be involved in the birthing process," says Mark. Rather than playing sidekick coaching bedside, Mark sat behind Karen in the tub, holding her. He was right behind her the moment Hannah, their now fourth grader, was born.
"They want you to pull the baby out immediately, but we did it slowly and let Hannah acclimate, then pulled her out," Mark explains.
"In the water you're not fighting gravity, which helps with dilation," he adds. It also decreases the risk of tearing.
So un-traumatized were mother and daughter that Karen tried to pack up and head home only hours after labor. "They made me stay, but I was fine," Karen says.
While the Luckies are strong proponents of the water birthing technique, they realize it's not for everyone. Mothers must be in good health. Karen started walking at the beginning of her pregnancy and adopted a healthy diet plan.
If they were to do it again, the Luckies say they'd have a midwife at home, substitute the kiddie pool for their bath tub and use spring water. But for now, Hannah's made enough of a splash in their lives.
For more information on water birthing, contact licensed local midwife Brandy Brandfass at www.charlestonmidwife.com. Brandfass has not only delivered multiple water births, but she gave birth by the water method to both of her own children.