water birth
Labour & birth

Water birth in Ireland

Q I am hoping to have a water birth in Ireland at the hospital I’m attending. This is my first birth and I am both excited and anxious at the idea. What can I expect?

You will be the envy of so many Mums who would love to have the opportunity to have a water birth. Pure bliss is a term I hear frequently from mums who get to labour in water. Water immersion is one of the most effective tools for pain relief in labour – the bath is good but you don’t have the freedom of movement you get in those deep birth pools.

Water birth – what to expect

One of the biggest advantages of using the pool is that it increases the hormone oxytocin significantly so your labour is more likely to progress quicker but with the added benefit of the warm water being very soothing. You are less likely to need an epidural and you’re more likely to avoid having perineal injury. The buoyancy of the water also makes it feel like you’ve lost about 90% of your body weight which feels lovely at full term!

See how you feel on the day about giving birth in water – if it feels good and all is well then go for it but some mums decide to get out for the second stage and prefer to be on dry land so just keep an open mind. Your midwife will keep an eye on the temperature of the water and encourage you to drink to keep you hydrated – other than that relax, float and enjoy!

About Tracy

Tracy Donegan is a midwife and author of the Irish Better Birth Book, The Irish Caesarean and VBAC Guide and founder of GentleBirth. GentleBirth is Ireland’s leading positive birth preparation programme. Available as a homestudy course or weekend workshop GentleBirth is changing the way women in Ireland give birth. GentleBirth provides you with the roadmap to a positive birth and helps you navigate and negotiate the Irish maternity system to stack the odds in your favour of having the best birth possible. www.GentleBirth.ie

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Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.



Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….