FEATURE: Meet Lister Hospital’s 1,000th water birth baby

Deputy Head of Midwifery at the Lister Hospital Helen Altringham with Claire and Ryan Edwards and 8

Deputy Head of Midwifery at the Lister Hospital Helen Altringham with Claire and Ryan Edwards and 8 week old Annabelle who was the 1000th baby to be born in the Lister Maternity unit birthing pools - Credit: Archant

The birth of a child for any parent is a magical experience and for one couple the event was a double celebration.

Annabelle Edwards became the 1,000th baby to be born by water birth at the state-of-the art maternity facilities at Lister Hospital in Stevenage since the unit opened in October, 2011.

Comet reporter Chandni Tanna went along to the £16.4 million unit, which was officially opened by the Queen in June last year, to meet the newborn and her parents.

Claire Edwards gave birth to her first child on August 18 at 6.31am. Throughout her pregnancy the 32-year-old had opted against a water birth because she “thought it would all be a bit gross”.

“I’d never really considered it and the thought of it had just put me off,” she said.

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“But I got talking to people at my National Childbirth Trust class who had had a water birth and how it had helped with pain relief and relaxation, so I changed my mind.”

Prior to the big day, Mrs Edwards and her husband Ryan, 34, who is a dental technician, were given a tour of the unit.

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Speaking about the experience itself, the payroll supervisor, who works in Arlesey but is currently on maternity leave, said: “My contractions started at 2am. We arrived at the hospital and were put in another room as I was only 3cm dilated, but things happened very quickly and I moved into the birthing pool within half and hour.”

Mrs Edwards, who was supported by her husband, said: “Getting into the pool was the best thing.

“I was extremely hot, and getting into the water just cooled me down and it did help me with the pain, which was in my back and in my gut.”

Altogether Mrs Edwards, who lives with her husband in Great Ashby, Stevenage, was in the birthing pool for four hours.

“It was a fabulous experience, and I had two midwives who helped me through it and they were great in keeping me calm and talking me through it all,” she said.

“After Annabelle was born we stayed in the pool for a while and then I was moved onto the bed – it was a surreal and magical experience.”

Speaking about her bundle of joy being the 1,000th baby to be born by water birth at Lister’s new maternity unit, Mrs Edwards said: “It is really special and I would definitely recommend water births to other couples and mums.”

The deputy head of midwifery at Lister, Helen Altringham, said: “Water births are a lovely experience and are a great pain relief. At Lister we are very proud to be able to offer great facilities and the best of both worlds. We offer expectant mothers both midwifery-led and consultant-led deliveries.

“Since moving to the site (from the QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City) water births have become very popular and make up 10% of births at Lister.”

Mrs Altringham said the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, hopes to increase the number of birthing pools from three to five.

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