PHOTOS: WHEN A BELLY BLOOMS PHOTOGRAPHY - A couple completes a water birth together. "It increases maternal satisfaction and is safe for babies," said Kanya Del Pozzo, a certified midwife and nurse practitioner.
SPRINGFIELD – You might say that ever since the water birth program was first offered inside McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center about nine months ago, midwives and participants have made beautiful music together.
The harmony of birth mothers and midwives is the result of more expectant mothers seeking a “healing approach” to childbirth, said Kanya Del Pozzo, an expert in women’s healthcare and certified midwife.
Music is something Del Pozzo knows well, too. Her husband, Warren, owns Little Ax Records, a music shop with locations in Springfield and Portland. In fact, he has his own music label, reissuing “world” or “international” music genres.
But back to Del Pozzo’s specialty – helping women give birth in the safest, most comfortable environment possible.
Del Pozzo has earned multiple certifications, including her undergraduate degree from Linfield School of Nursing near Portland and a master’s degree from Frontier Nursing School in Kentucky. All of which makes the nurse practitioner uniquely qualified to specialize in women’s health, pregnancy, and obstetric care.
The midwifery program took off in Springfield in 2020 when the PeaceHealth birthing center closed, she said.
“There’s been one free birth center we offered but it was a free-standing birth center next to the hospital,” Del Pozzo explained. “So people would come to us for water birth there but if they had to go to the hospital for whatever reason, water birth was not offered. … It took a little while to get water birth on the table as a matter of discussion; we presented the evidence and the benefits for a mom to the pediatricians and the obstetrician, and the hospital and everyone was on board.
“So it’s a really exciting opportunity to be able to offer water birth in the hospital setting in this community. You can have a water birth at home or in a birth center, but some people prefer the extra safety of being in the hospital.”
McKenzie-Willamette is the only area hospital with water birth options in the facility. A hospital spokesman said the program’s first water birth happened in December.
“It’s been going great. The evidence – and what we’ve experienced – demonstrates that it really decreases maternal perception of pain,” Del Pozzo said. “It increases maternal satisfaction and is safe for babies.”
The benefits are varied and concrete, she said. “People love being in the water. It also decreases the epidural rate, or the use of other pain medications because being in the water is such a help for contraction pain during labor. And so it decreases interventions and allows us to have more physiologic birth with less intervention.
“Every person who has had a water birth so far is really happy with the experience and really just overjoyed with being able to have their baby in the water.”
Speaking of joy, Del Pozzo said the fulfillment for both midwife and mother makes all the difference. She recalled a specific instance that illustrates the healing approach to water birth. A mom-to-be had already given birth and had trauma around the experience.
“And so her hope was to have a water birth and just be able to do things more naturally, with less intervention and less chaos in the room, and we were able to do that for her,” Del Pozzo said. “We set up the tub when she was in active labor and she got in and she felt much more relief from her contraction pain and then went on to push out her baby and it was a much better experience than her first.”
The joy was palpable.
“All birth is amazing; it’s very fulfilling in a lot of ways, being able to offer water birth and help people have whatever it is that they’re really wanting. That just feels, yeah … it feels extra good.
She said expectant moms like the environment of being a little bit less clinical.”
She said it’s about a 50-50 percentage between first-time births and and experienced moms.
“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of trauma that can come with having a baby. It’s just kind of part of the experience,” Del Pozzo said. “So having a water birth can be really healing for people with past birth trauma. We just help them have a better experience because how you have your baby really is the foundation of your parenting. The rest of your life as a parent. So it feels really good to be able to offer people a less dramatic way of bringing their baby into this world.”
Del Pozzo recently brought her own baby into the world, when daughter Sovay was born in December. The name was taken from a Gaelic folk song; she said the baby is called Soso around the house. A house near downtown Springfield that the couple has completely renovated; she says they are do-it-yourselfers, and the pandemic provided the opportunity to work on the massive project.
And while her musical tastes lean to 1970s-era rock, pop, and contemporary, helping women deliver babies in a healthy and healing environment is what sounds best to her.