Water Birth And “Home Birth Experience” Now In A Hospital Setting At Broward Health Medical Center 

Photo courtesy of Martha Lerner, Doula + Photographer with zenmamalove
Photo courtesy of Martha Lerner, Doula + Photographer with zenmamalove

Your Birth – Your Way

Water Birth and “Home Birth Experience” Now in a Hospital Setting at Broward Health Medical Center 

When I gave birth to my son eleven years ago, I had hoped to labor with my doula in a birthing tub, but I also wanted to be in a hospital to have an epidural and access to emergency medical treatment if needed. The only option for water births was in a birthing center. That meant if I had an emergency, I’d have to leave the center in the middle of my labor and transfer to a hospital. No way!

Thanks to Broward Health Medical Center, which offers moms the best of both worlds, that’s all changed now. “When I stepped into the tub, I felt immediate relief,” recalled Veronica Puga Flores, who had a water birth at Broward Health Medical Center with her husband and doula surrounding her, and a nurse and doctor checking in periodically.

Broward Health’s Maternity Place recently opened a birthing center room that provides a more family-centered homelike experience for women like Puga Flores.  

“The woman isn’t connected to a monitor, and there is very little medical equipment in the room, allowing her to move and position herself as she needs,” said Delisa Skeete Henry, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist at Broward Health. “But if there is an emergency, or she decides she wants pain-relieving medications, we can quickly move her into another room to provide appropriate interventions and monitoring.” 

Dr. Skeete Henry’s practice at Broward Health also offers nurse-midwives for those wishing to labor with a midwife in the hospital with or without an epidural. 

“The hospital is trying to shift the paradigm of hospital labor and delivery by providing options for those who want a more natural experience,” Dr. Skeete Henry said.  

Photo courtesy of Martha Lerner, Doula + Photographer with zenmamalove 
Photo courtesy of Martha Lerner, Doula + Photographer with zenmamalove

Peace of Mind and Peaceful Births

“The birthing center room at Broward Health Medical Center is definitely a huge, much needed asset to our birthing community,” said Martha Lerner, Doula and Photographer with zenmamalove. “The center allows moms who want the most natural experience possible to have peace of mind and a peaceful birth.” Lerner served as Puga Flores’ doula and birthing photographer. 

Lerner recommended Dr. Skeete Henry and Broward Health Medical Center to Puga Flores. 

“I love working with Dr. Skeete Henry and her team of midwives,” Lerner said. “They always treat families with the utmost respect and compassion and go above and beyond to make sure the birthing family’s wishes are followed, if at all possible.” 

On September 10, 2021, Puga Flores arrived at the hospital with heavy contractions. She used a few of the tools in the birthing room, including a squatting bar and birthing ball. Once in the birthing tub and encouraged by her husband and doula, Puga Flores began pushing. A nurse, midwife, and Dr. Skeete Henry also stopped by intermittently. Puga Flores’ daughter Rina floated into the midwife’s hands 40 minutes later.

“I appreciated that it was such a peaceful experience,” Puga Flores recalled. “Rina came out very calm — almost as though she didn’t realize she was being born.” 

Many women say the tub eases the pain of contractions and find the water very calming and soothing during their pregnancies and deliveries. 

Rose McKelvie, the Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital administrator at Broward Health Medical Center, said that the birthing center room is one of the examples of how Broward Health is trying to shift the paradigm of hospital labor and delivery. “Childbirth is a state of wellness, not illness — but it is also a state where things can change in the blink of an eye,” explained McKelvie. “We do everything we can to honor a parent’s birth plan while keeping mother and baby safe.”

It includes providing options for women who may not be able to labor in the home birthing room but still want a more natural experience and amenities, such as water birth. Broward Health’s Maternity Place offers private labor and delivery suites, private postpartum suites and deluxe suites with extra-spacious family areas. McKelvie encourages women to start talking with their doctor about their birth plans early. “This is all about shared decision-making and staying open to the idea that sometimes things might change,” she said. 

This squares with Puga Flores’ experience. “You don’t have control over everything that might happen during the birth process, but you do have a lot of say,” she said. “You need to have a doctor who empowers you to call some of the shots.” 

Broward Health’s Maternity Place birthing center room that provides a more family centered homelike experience.

Empowering Moms

Every woman deserves the choice to give birth how she wants. For many of us, it’s the hardest thing we will ever do. It takes every ounce of strength and might to push a human out of our bodies. That’s what is so wonderful about Broward Health. It’s the only hospital in Broward County to offer this, and it shows how open-minded the doctors are and how much they respect a woman’s right to labor as she chooses.

It’s too late for me, but for all you moms-to-be out there, finding a hospital that values and respects your wishes and empowers YOU to make the right decision for yourself and your baby is golden. My advice to new moms is to listen and practice tapping into your intuition. Your birth is the first important decision you’ll be making as a mommy in a lifetime of new decisions. 

Happy Birthing!

Photo courtesy of Martha Lerner, Doula + Photographer with zenmamalove 


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