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  • This Maternity Clinic In Cebu Offers Water Birth, Plus Free Healthcare For Moms In Need

    Earnings for their water birth services are utilized for the marginalized mothers of Cebu.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
This Maternity Clinic In Cebu Offers Water Birth, Plus Free Healthcare For Moms In Need
PHOTO BY Paola Galan of Glory Reborn
  • ‘How many times have we heard the phrase, “Ang sakit manganak”? It’s a line that has brought fear to many soon-to-be moms, but water birth, a form of gentle birth, is helping bring a whole new way of thinking about one of the most natural processes that women go through. 

    Holistic experience through water birth

    Glory Reborn is an non-governmental organization established in Cebu in 2003, which provides free and holistic care for marginalized mothers and their babies.
    PHOTO BY Paola Galan of Glory Reborn for Jed & Natasha Bea Pradia

    “It’s all within her,” says Glory Reborn founder and CEO Hilary Overton. “Gentle birth, and especially water birth, allows the mother to lead her labor and delivery journey. There is trust in the mother’s body, instinct, and ability not just to become pregnant and maintain nine months of pregnancy, but now to bring her baby into her arms.”

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    Glory Reborn is an non-governmental organization established in Cebu in 2003, which provides access and equality of care to marginalized mothers and their babies. From being a maternity care with just three midwives, it has now grown into a fully licensed maternity clinic, licensed clinical laboratory, and licensed social work service department (DSWD).

    They are also PhilHealth accredited and continue to provide sustainable employment for Filipino professionals and 24-hour services to mothers and babies. “We believe that health and hope work hand in hand and investing in our mothers not just physically but spiritually and emotionally,” says Hilary. 

    A few years ago, the organization began to offer water birth as part of their services to provide holistic birth experiences for mothers.

    “Earlier this year, our clinical team of physicians, nurses and midwives underwent waterbirth education classes and training,” shares Hilary. “These training classes allowed us to study the evidence for water birth, the best practices, develop safe guidelines/protocols, and empower ourselves as providers, journeying with mothers through their birth miracle moments,” she adds.

    Hospital birth vs. water birth

    In water birth, the husband or partner is also encouraged to be a part of the mother’s support team to give comfort and assurance while the mother is in labor.
    PHOTO BY Paola Galan of Glory Reborn for Jason & Isabella Dulay
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    Just like hospital birth, Glory Reborn upholds standards of healthcare monitoring of the mother and the baby during water birth. Vital signs and the baby's heartbeat are still regularly monitored and the mother is actively part of this monitoring.

    “She might hold the doppler or assume any position that is comfortable while a fetal monitor is placed,” says Hilary. 

    Unlike hospital birth, however, there is no ‘expert’ in charge of the delivery but there is a team working in unison to support the birthing mother. Part of the team are trained doulas or midwives. The husband or partner is also encouraged to be a part of the mother’s support team to give comfort and assurance while the mother is in labor. 

    For any eventualities, Glory Reborn has an effective referral system in place that is readily available. According to Hilary, mothers are encouraged to use wisdom in preparing for all three possibilities — land birth, water birth, and operative delivery.

    “How they give birth may change from their original birth plan but the continuous support, culture of autonomy in birth and participation in the labor/birthing process can be upheld with a holistic team.”

    Apart from the decision-making, this autonomy Glory Reborn refers to extends all the way to the process of delivery where “it is the mother that draws her baby out of the water and onto her chest for the first embrace.”

    Who qualifies for water birth?

    A peek into one Glory Reborn's private rooms with water birth option.
    PHOTO BY Paola Galan of Glory Reborn
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    Mothers known to have low-risk pregnancies may qualify for water birth but this still entails education on the part of the mother and her partner. Glory Reborn makes sure that mothers who are considering water birth should undergo childbirth education classes that present them with evidence-based labor and delivery information.

    Quoting a Cochrane review, Hilary says that water immersion lessened the need for regional analgesia. “This is good news for mothers seeking unmedicated labor and birthing alternatives.”

    She goes on to say that water birth is not for everyone but informed decision making, respectful, safe, supportive, evidence-based mother-lead labor and delivery care should be the standard for every birthing family. Glory Reborn also recommends seeking the guidance of a health care provider with regards to the method. 

    While Glory Reborn is a non-profit organization, its water birth services comes with a cost for those who avail of their services. Apart from the preparatory classes and education materials for the parents, expenses for water birthing also entails equipment to ensure safety and quality standards.

    Among these are birth tubs or birth pools, pool liners for single-individual use, hot water and, training/education of their healthcare professionals. However, compared to private  hospital delivery, water birth costs approximately 40-50% less, says Hilary. 

    Paying it forward

    While Glory Reborn is a non-profit organization, its water birth services comes with a cost for those who avail of their services.
    PHOTO BY Paola Galan of Glory Reborn
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    Ultimately, earnings are utilized for the marginalized mothers of Cebu whom Glory Reborn mainly serves. The mothers who avail of the organization’s waterbirth services get to ‘pay it forward’ to the moms in its social work program, explains Hilary.

    “The beautiful picture that has happened as we open waterbirth to a larger community is that our desire to see local mothers supporting local mothers has also been birthed.” 

    Hilary is hopeful that the organization can contribute to high quality standards for the water birth community in Cebu. “This is not something that we take lightly, thus we have done due diligence in educating ourselves, researching, seeking out training and wisdom to ensure we uphold our mission for Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies and Hopeful Hearts,” she says. 

    Water birthing not only gives expectant mothers another alternative to hospital delivery but provides a whole new attitude towards childbirth that is beyond pain by “profoundly helping a mother trust herself, her body and the process of birth,” says Hilary. 

    Quoting educator and author Laura Stavoe Harm, Hilary sums this birthing journey best with these words, “We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” 

    Is water birth a safer option for pregnant women in this pandemic? Click here to know your options.

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