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  • A Determined Woman and Her Doctor Work Together to Fulfill Her Desire for a Water Birth

    “Bago pa lang ako mabuntis, sinabi ko na sa sarili kong manganganak ako sa tubig.”
    by Alexine Parreno .
A Determined Woman and Her Doctor Work Together to Fulfill Her Desire for a Water Birth
PHOTO BY Digital Surf Studio
  • If you find the photos here awe-inspiring, then people on Facebook agree with you. The family album of artists and musicians Rio Carmela Macadaeg, 28, and Rodney Formaran, 38, have now racked more than 12,000 shares as of this writing after their maternity and birth photographer, Digital Surf Studio, shared it on Facebook.

    The couple wanted a maternity shoot for their keepsake and to document the arrival of their firstborn, Musika. But they never imagined the photos would get this much attention or that the childbirth they carefully planned for would have a few hitches along the way.

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    Maternity shoot in the backyard

    Rio and Rodney live in Coron, Palawan, one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The river, the forest, and the hut in the photos? That’s home for this family.

    maternity shoot
    Location shoot: Rio and Rodney's backyard in Coron Palawan.
    PHOTO BY Digital Surf Studio
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    maternity shoot concept
    For their maternity shoot, Rio and Rodney wanted to highlight the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water.
    PHOTO BY Digital Surf Studio

    These images had been taken in their home by the foot of Mt. Dalara. They didn’t even need props — their home is where they create and showcase their art. They had the maternity shoot a few days before Rio’s due date. 

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    Rodney Formaran
    Rio does handcrafts while Rodney is an artist-musician.
    PHOTO BY Digital Art Studio

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    Birth plan: water birth

    “Bago pa lang ako mabuntis, sinabi ko na sa sarili kong manganganak ako sa tubig,” Rio shares in an email interview with SmartParenting.com.ph. 

    Rio was ecstatic when she found out she was pregnant and immediately started on her birth plan: the goal was a water birth. Her first step was to change her mindset and to trust her body. “Ang katawan ng babae ay idinisenyo para manganak kaya wala akong dapat ikatakot.”

    Coron is a small town, and Rio had very limited options for healthcare providers. She visited each one to inquire if they would aid her water birth. One by one, they declined until she was down to one last medical practitioner: Dr. Jose Ramon Alleje of Dr. Alleje Maternity Island Doctors Clinic.

    As fate would have it, Rio met Dr. Alleje at local bar, Ale E Hippie House (the bar becomes important later on). She mustered up the courage to ask him if he would be her doctor. Dr. Alleje asked Rio to come to his clinic the next day, and they discussed her birth plan.

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    Rio recalls Dr. Alleje explained in detail the possible risks of water birth, which she accepted and they agreed to do it.

    “Buong-buo na yung loob ko at positive ako na magtatagumpay kami dahil magaling at tamang OB ang ibinigay sa akin,” she says.

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    A flooded clinic leads to a memorable place

    In the early morning of August 5, 2019, just as Typhoon Hanna was bringing in torrential rains over Coron, Rio started to feel mild contractions. This was the day she was hoping to deliver. She was 38 weeks along, and it also happened to be her 28th birthday.

    Right before they left for the clinic where they were going to do the water birth, Rio and Rodney received a call from Dr. Alleje. He informed the couple they will need another birthing place because the clinic was flooded!

    Dr. Alleje remembered that their common friend, Chong Arangali, owner of Ala E Hippie House (we said it would be important!), just finished renovating the ground floor to become bed & breakfast. Chong was literally scrubbing the place until 4 a.m. that morning in preparation for the opening. Thankfully, Chong agreed, and they had their new dry and spic-n-span venue.

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    water birth medical doctor
    Dr. Jose Ramon Alleje was the only who was willing to support Rio in her birth plan.
    PHOTO BY Digital Surf Studio
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    Rio and Rodney first met at Ala E Hippie House, the same place where they ended up giving birth because of Typhoon Hanna.
    PHOTO BY Digital Surf Studio
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    They had to transfer all the equipment from the clinic in a rush. “Nagmadali kami kasi nag dilate na ako tapos typhoon was approaching na. Si Doc pa ang nag-drive! Timing ang mga pangyayari, sunod-sunod at organized kahit biglaan ang lahat.”

    The setup was the longest part of the day, but as soon as Rio was ready, things happened really fast. She was in active labor and in the water for only 41minutes, and she loved every minute of the entire experience. “Masarap. Hindi pala ganun kahirap at kasakit pag nasa tubig. Warm pa yung tubig, ang sarap sa pakiramdam. Natural lahat hindi din ako napunitan.”

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    water birth Coron Palawan Philippines
    A band who helped Dr. Alleje set up a temporary delivery room was playing on the second floor as Musika was born.
    PHOTO BY Digital Surf Studio
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    water birth type childbirth
    The photographers stayed with Rio and Rodney for seven days to do the maternity shoot and stayed on call for the water birth.
    PHOTO BY Digital Surf Studio
    water birth coron dr alleje
    Thanks to his quick thinking, Dr. Alleje, with his team here, helped Rio fulfill her birth plan.
    PHOTO BY Digital Surf Studio
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    water birth childbirth plan
    Rio and Rodney with their medical team, family and friends in Coron, Palawan.
    PHOTO BY Digital Surf Studio
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    Surrounded by family and having a medical team she trusted contributed greatly to her morale. “Very supportive ang lahat at confident na magtatagumpay kami sa delivery. Yung ginawa pa ni doc is Lamaze breathing. Ang laki ng tulong kahit medyo na out-of-focus ako, hindi siya sumukong i-guide ako to focus. Ang galing ng rhythm na nangyari. Best doctor talaga si doc, nakakatuwa.”

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    Rio gave birth to Musika at 5:44 p.m., a healthy baby boy weighing 3.4kg. “Hindi ko ma-explain ang pakiramdam ko nung moment na ipinatong na si Musika sa katawan ko. Sobrang saya ko, hindi ko na naramdaman ang pain. Eto na yung pinakamomentous event ng buhay ko. Si Musika na ang best gift kasi alam mong itinadhanang magka-birthday kami. Napakagandang regalo sa akin.”

    water birth Philippines
    PHOTO BY Digital Surf Studio
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    A song written by Rodney for son Musika

    Sayo aming Musika, nagbunga ang awit ng pagmamahal

    Himig ng pagkakaisa at magpapatuloy ng bawat kanta ng pagmamalasakit sa bawat isa...

    Puso't isipan laging pag isahin sa bawat hakbang na iyong tatahakin

    Wag matakot masaktan kung pagmamahal ang dahilan

    Lagi mo lang tatandaan mahal ka namin, kahit ano pa man...”

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