Welcoming first water baby at Stornoway hospital

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Little Alasdair Watney Macdonald has made some waves by being the first baby born in the new birthing pool in the Western Isles Hospital, Stornoway.

Alasdair, who made his entrance on Saturday, January 16, weighing around 8lb 1oz, is the first tot to be delivered in the pool, although other mums had previously used it to ease their labour.

Mum Megan Watney, 31, said: “It was a great experience – as good as birth can be. I felt it was more relaxing, for the baby as well. I felt the baby transitioned a lot better. He seemed to be very relaxed. He didn’t start screaming or crying right away.

“I had wanted it for pain relief, mainly, because last time I had the bath and that seemed to help. I felt, in between the contractions, you could really let go and relax. You didn’t have to hold your weight afterwards.”

Alasdair is the second child for Megan and partner Seumas Macdonald, 32, and a little brother for proud Uilleam, aged two. The family live in Linshader, Uig, on the Isle of Lewis.

Megan added: “I think it’s lovely that the option is available for other mums to use, but it’s the midwives that make it a good experience, at the end of the day, because without them it wouldn’t matter how much equipment or stuff we had.”

Compared to Uilleam’s birth, dad Seumas said: “It was definitely more relaxing all round. When the baby was born, he just lay in the water in the warmth. I guess it’s much less of a shock than coming out into the cold air.

“For me, I’m pretty much the spare wheel anyway – getting my hand squeezed – but Megan was really happy with it. She really wanted the pool.

“It was generally a really positive experience and I think even just having the choice empowers those giving birth a little bit, because they can choose whether they have their baby in water or not.”

Catherine Macdonald, Head of Midwifery at NHS Western Isles, said they had wanted to offer this choice “for years”, adding: “From a midwife’s perspective, I’m absolutely delighted that we’re able to offer our women this choice element. Some people will want to use it for labour and not necessarily for birth but then they might change their mind – it depends on how the mood goes and how the ambience is.”

The birthing pool at Western Isles Hospital was more than 10 years in the planning and there were delays along the way. It came into use for the earlier stages of labour late last year and staff are delighted to now be using it for deliveries.

Midwife Christina ‘Todag’ Mackenzie, who attended Alasdair’s birth, said: “It was a new experience for me and it was really nice to be part of it. It was lovely. Megan was the ideal candidate because it was her second baby and there were no risk factors. She also had the mindset.”

Picture shows mum Megan and dad Seumas with baby Alasdair and Uilleam in the water birthing suite.