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Minn. Health Network To Discontinue Water Births

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A decision by Allina Health to stop water births led to a protest outside a Shakopee Hospital Monday morning.

Earlier this month, Allina began telling doulas and expecting moms that underwater births would no longer be an option.

About two dozen people gathered outside St. Francis Medical Center to protest that decision.

Protestors argued that expecting mothers should have all options available to them.

“Walter was born in the water and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was the most powerful experience I’ve ever had,” mom Meredith Skalko said.

Skalko gave birth to her 10-month-old son Walter underwater.

As of now, at Allina’s 11 Twin Cities hospitals, it’s no longer an option for expecting moms.

While birthing process can still begin in the water, the actual birth has to take place in a hospital bed.

Allina’s decision is based on a statement released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It called water birthing “experimental” and recommended that it only be used in clinical trials.

“So the decision that we made was that we would suspend water births in our hospitals until we could put that into place,” Dr. Lisa Saul of Allina Health said.

Dr. Saul said Allina will look to begin a clinical trial and that water birthing could be available again someday.

Allina just built new water birth tubs at Abbott-Northwestern a year ago.

Yet, despite it being an option for decades, some Allina officials still question its safety.

“I think in 20 or 30 years there still hasn’t been enough, uh, consistency in the data to answer the question,” Dr. Saul said.

Water birth supporters say they couldn’t disagree more.

“For some reason, all of a sudden when it’s becoming popular and something that a lot of people are wanting, now we’re hearing that this is not something they want to continue offering? It seems a little fishy to me,” Liz Hochman of the Childbirth Collective said.

Many of Monday’s protesters were mothers who opted for a water birth.

They say the water helps calm both the baby and mom and the child has a smoother transition into the world.

They added that they didn’t need an epidural or other medication as a result of being in the water.

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