Water Birth Option Returns to CHI Health St. Elizabeth

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nearly a year after CHI Health St. Elizabeth suspended its water births, the hospital is once again offering the option to expecting women.

Last May, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released an opinion saying underwater birth deliveries may pose health risks to women and their children, and water births have no proven benefits.

The hospital said it always puts the safety of its patients first, with or without water births.

Midwife Jearlyn Schumacher has helped deliver babies in water for 20 years, and said she's excited the hospital is once again offering water births.

"It's just like an 'Ah' moment, you know, and they just relax into the water and that just helps everything," Certified Nurse, Midwife at CHI Health St. Elizabeth Schumacher said.

After the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists claimed water births posed risks to mom and baby, the hospital went to work.

"All of the water birth charts, babies who had had water births were audited by neonatal intensive care," Schumacher said. "We've never had an adverse outcome, so at that point they decided that it was safe for us to reinstate water birth."

Joyce Dykema of Lincoln has given birth to two of her children underwater, one delivered at CHI Health St. Elizabeth. When the option was suspended, Dykema had to alter her birthing plans, including where she would deliver her baby, Willow.

"Leaving those relationships was a really, really difficult decision" Dykema said. "But just emotionally, you know, I knew I needed to feel completely comfortable in the place where I was giving birth, and so I had to change."

Dykema gave birth under water in Bellevue. While her experience wasn't the way she initially planned, she said she's glad other Lincoln women will once again have the opportunity.

"The nurses have been working really, really hard." Dykema said. "I mean, that's been extremely clear from the very beginning that they wanted it back, they didn't like that it had been taken away and now it's back. All the hard work paid off."

CHI Health St. Elizabeth said it's had three water birth since reinstating them earlier this year. All the hospital's labor rooms have a jetted tub for moms to use, besides just two high risk rooms.

CHI Health St. Elizabeth is the only hospital in Lincoln to offer water births.