Gisele Bundchen's Son Born in Boston Bathtub
Water births get boost from Brazilian supermodel, who makes home delivery sexy.
Feb. 2, 2010— -- Breaking from a culture where hospital births are the norm and Caesarian rates are the highest in the world, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen chose to deliver her son Benjamin in her own bathtub.
And well-respected studies show water birth helps with mom's labor pains, too.
Today in the United States, as in Brazil, natural childbirth is a medical anomaly. But here, a small, but growing number of women are choosing water births over medication and pain-blocking epidurals.
Bundchen told the Boston Globe she prepared for her Dec. 8, 2009 delivery with yoga and meditation and "didn't want to be all drugged up" when she gave birth.
While birthing in warm water isn't new, Bundchen's high-profile home delivery brings a lot more splash to the concept.
"If you think about it, it makes sense philosophically," said Dr. Tracy Gaudet, an obstetrician and executive director of the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine in North Carolina.
"Think about the fetus living in water. Instead of going from the dark, warm water environment to the sudden shock of the outside in that moment of birth, there's a more gradual transition," she said.
In a water birth, mothers sit waist-deep in water heated to simulate body temperature through labor and delivery. Within seconds of the baby emerging, the midwife or doctor brings its head above water.
The cord can be cut in or out of water, depending on a woman's choice.
While Gaudet has never delivered a baby in water, she said she would be "game" to try. "It's a little gentler and kinder to the baby," she told ABCNews.com.
She advises that if the water birth is at home, midwives have a back-up plan.
"I am open-minded, but I've seen enough things go bad and you have to have a plan A, B and C," said Gaudet. "Labor and delivery is hopefully perfectly normal and a positive experience, but things don't always go as planned."
In an interview with Brazil's news feature show "Fantastico," Bundchen described the eight-hour birth of her son in the couple's Beacon Hill penthouse. She said she was influenced by the 2008 documentary, "The Business of Being Born," an argument for natural childbirth produced by television personality Ricki Lake.
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