Water birthing option eliminated at Tennova facilities

Water birthing option eliminated at Tennova facilities

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"It's hard work, it's awful and it's hard work," Collins explained about childbirth. "It's hard work, it's awful and it's hard work," Collins explained about childbirth.
"My hope is that somehow in the next weeks that they will be able to make a decision," said Courtney. "In the end, I'm still being blessed with a little girl and that's better than anything." "My hope is that somehow in the next weeks that they will be able to make a decision," said Courtney. "In the end, I'm still being blessed with a little girl and that's better than anything."

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Bringing a new life into the world should be an intimate and special experience, but a Knoxville mother of three says she won't be able to give birth to her fourth child the way she wants because of a recent decision by Tennova.

All Tennova facilities are eliminating water birthing effective August 1, according to a statement from the hospital.

Courtney Collins, 29, had planned on delivering her daughter that way at Physician's Regional Medical Center before the announcement. Her due date is just a few weeks after the cutoff.

"It's hard work, it's awful and it's hard work," Collins explained about childbirth. "And I would love to have the option to get in some water and take the weight off of my body. Now I'm just hoping to deliver her naturally in the best way that I can."

The announcement that Tennova chose to eliminate the water birth option exploded among local moms on the Knoxville BirthNetwork Facebook page. That's where Courtney first learned the news.

In a statement issued to 6 News, Tennova said, "We will continue to offer our patients the option of laboring in the birthing pool so they may utilize the benefits of water immersion... However, we will no longer offer the option for water births after July 31st. This decision was made after careful review of the current literature available regarding the benefits and risks."

Courtney said she wouldn't turn down the birthing pool to help with the pain of labor, but it's the question of what happens next that concerned her most.

"Will I be made to get out when it's time to push?" she asked. "And how would I even do that? For most mothers, I think they could all agree that moving when it's time to push is not really an option."

Courtney has chosen to have a doula present for her birth. A doula is a non-medical professional who's there for comfort and support. Her doula, Alissa Claxton, is another local mother of three who's become a close friend.

Claxton is also worried about the impact of Tennova's decision.

"Birth is not a one size fits all kind of deal," said Claxton. "It's really a shame that the option is being taken away for women."

"The whole goal of the water is to help women naturally do what their bodies are made to do without medical intervention," added Courtney. "I know it's not going to be euphoria, but anything that can allow her to come in with as little drug interaction and allow me to recover from not needing the drug interaction so that I can better care for her is priceless to me."

The Lisa Ross Birth and Women's Center in Knoxville will be the only facility in the area offering water births after Tennova's cutoff.

One of Courtney's other children was born by emergency caesarian section though, which means she can't go there. Its policies prevent natural birth after caesarian.

Courtney thinks there's still hope for water birthing at other local facilities.

"It seems silly to call natural birth being innovative because that's how it started out. But in Knoxville we need to be innovators and Physician's Regional has the opportunity to do that. I hope that they will take that opportunity and really run with it."

Tennova said it would keep exploring options for childbirth supported by scientific research.

One possibility being tossed around right now is a clinical study in Knoxville that may help clear up the safety concerns many hospitals have about the water birthing option. Even doctors say there just isn't enough data out there for them to know it's not too much of a risk.

"My hope is that somehow in the next weeks that they will be able to make a decision," said Courtney. "In the end, I'm still being blessed with a little girl and that's better than anything."

Knoxville's Improving Birth National Rally for Change is scheduled for September 2 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Laurel Church of Christ on Kingston Pike.

Organizers say the event isn't focused on the natural versus medicated birth debate, but is seeking to provide all women with the unbiased knowledge to make informed decisions for themselves.

Courtney and Alissa said they plan to attend.

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