Quinn’s Water Birth Experience at NUH, Singapore

“I was looking for a less painful method to do natural birth without epidural, and water birth was it,” Quinn explained. “Moreover, it’s a bonus that the baby would have a less traumatic experience as she goes from water to water.”

In the previous post, Quinn* provided financial planning advice to parents with young children from her experience as a financial consultant. Here, she shares about her water birth experience in 2018 at National University Hospital (“NUH”). However, do note that there’s no more water birth service at NUH from September 2020, the cutoff will be EDD by 31 August 2020.

Baby photo of Talya. Photos Courtesy of Quinn.

During the Pregnancy

Water birth in NUH costs Quinn about S$6,000. This is about the same price as a mother opting for epidural during natural birth. Instead of paying for the epidural, Quinn paid the “extra” amount for EMMa Care, and the use of bathtub and water.

Emma Care

What’s Emma Care? It stands for Enhanced Midwifery Maternity Care, an optional midwife scheme at NUH. It is only compulsory when the expectant mother opts for water birth. Under this scheme, the mother will be connected to a team of midwives and nurses (“Emma team”) at earlier stages of pregnancy instead of just before labour. Emma team will accompany the mother on prenatal and postnatal clinic appointments. They will also coach the partner on how to support the mother during and after delivery.

This is worth considering even if you decide not to go for water birth in the end. Most mothers carefully choose gynaecologists that only come in to deliver at the last minute but not the midwife that stays with us for the most part of the labour process.

During the course of pregnancy, the mother can discuss any issue or concern with the midwife, such as birth positions. Speaking of which, if you are planning to go through an unassisted natural birth, check out what I learnt from Leila’s workshop to minimise labour interventions as much as possible. Changing birth positions is one way to “induce” birth naturally.

Choice of Hospital and Gynae

Quinn went through the subsidised route at NUH where she saw a different gynaecologists (“gynae”) each time. She wanted to do water birth right from the beginning, but it was towards the end of her second trimester that she found out water birth was not an option at the subsidised clinic. She had to go on the private route for water birth. Private route means the mother get to choose a specific gynae for consultation and delivery. Do note that not all gynaes in NUH do water birth.

After looking around at the different water birth facilities in Singapore, she prefers those in NUH. She enaged Prof Chong Yap Seng during her second trimester. However, his schedule was super packed and she only got an appointment with him when she was at week 33.

Quinn remembers Prof Chong as being pretty calm, cool, and strictly business. Perhaps not for those who need tender loving care. Parents must prepare a list of questions to ask him because he doesn’t volunteer much information. Quinn even had to ask if the baby’s head was engaged, and if the baby’s weight was alright, before he pressed her tummy to gauge for her. No ultrasound scans at every visit too.

Is Water Birth for you?

Quinn shared that many factors need to be in place before the mother can go through with water birth, such as the baby’s heartbeat being stable, the head is in the right position, and the mother’s condition (such as not having fever).

When Quinn asked Prof Chong how she could prepare herself for water birth, he told her to prepare mentally. He went on to share about many mothers who tried and failed, opting for epidural or having to do caesarean during labour. One cannot do water birth with epidural.

The hospital will also inform the mothers about other risks associated with water birth. Also, the hospital will highlight a list of possible complications. If complications do arise, the mother will be requested to come out of the water bath. That’s why Quinn mentioned about everything falling in place before a successful water birth can take place.  

The Actual Water Birth Experience

Early Labour

Quinn was not in the water as much as she expected. She was labouring in the delivery ward for about 17 hours since 8:00AM, but she was not in the water for the entire period. You can check with your midwife to see if you can occasionally enter into the water during the earlier stages of labour to relieve pain. For Quinn, she got a Pethidine injection into her thigh to relieve pain in the first hour. And another IV drip for her Group B Strep Infection. The pain returned after the relief wore off after a few hours.

After about 6.5 hours in the ward, Prof Chong decided to break her waterbag to accelerate the labour. Soon after, the pain level shot up and she requested for laughing gas. This relieved her pain quite a bit especially when Prof Chong decided to induce the labour through the IV drip as she was stucked at 7cm of dilation.

Seeing not much progress, Prof Chong decided to increase the inducement dosage. Before he did that, he asked Quinn if she would like to take epidural as it will be painful.

“But I cannot do water birth if I take the epidural right?”

“Yes, you cannot do water birth,” Prof Chong replied Quinn.

“Then no, I don’t want epidural. I want to still try for water birth.”

Quinn's Water Birth
Photos Courtesy of Quinn

Active Labour | Water Birth

At 10:00PM, Quinn was finally fully dilated! At this point, she was still on the bed. She pushed until the baby’s head could be seen and that the baby was not in distress before she was allowed in the water.

“Once I stepped into the water, I was relieved how warm, soothing and relaxing it was,” Quinn recounted. Soon after she went into water, all she heard were rallies to push out the baby.

“Push harder! Harder than this!”

“Yes, go on, don’t stop!”

As Quinn pushed, blood flooded the water and the midwife had to change the water twice while she was inside. To Quinn, the pushing was not painful and definitely not as painful as earlier contractions.

Sidenote: As for my (Christina) labour without epidural, the pushing stage was the culmination of pain. So I guess water birth do help in relieving pain!

For about an hour, Quinn pushed and pushed until she tore naturally and out came Talya! Her beloved baby was then immediately placed on her breasts to bond with her in the “bloody” water. Thereafter, Quinn and the baby went back to the hospital bed where the placenta came out and Prof Chong stitched the tear. Quinn looked at the baby on the chest. “Welcome to motherhood,” she thought to herself.

“Would you do water birth again for your second child?” I asked Quinn.

“The pain was greatly reduced when I went into water. And so yes, I would do it again for my second child,” Quinn replied and nodded with a smile.

Talya all grown up now!

Are you going ahead with water birth? Let us know your concerns to make you hesitate, or reasons that convince you to do water birth. Leave a comment below. 🙂

Do check out Quinn’s financial planning advice to parents with young children from her experience as a financial consultant.

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