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Water birth: is it a horror?

Does the mere theme make you think of an intimidating scene of a fragile and delicate infant desperately fighting for a breath of air plunged in water? Cast away your fears for it’s not as alarming as you think it to be.

In fact, a certain portion of expectant mothers believes that water birth is ideal for themselves and their babies in terms of safety, hygiene and painless labour. The process of water birth needs careful consideration and preparation from an early stage.

The use of relaxing in a warm bath to relieve pain has been used for everything from backache, aching muscles, strenuous exercise, or menstrual pain.

Today more and more women are discovering how wonderful a pool of warm water can be during labour and birth.

The benefit of using water to reduce the pain of childbirth is well established and accepted in most countries today. However, women who are willing to proceed with this method, face many difficulties when it comes to finding the needed caregivers and birth settings.

The next fact to be considered is on why we are able to see a huge trend towards this method. Most people find great comfort and repose with water.

Perhaps it is because we begin our lives surrounded in liquid in the womb, and this basic familiarity stays with us throughout our lives.

Human beings’ natural alliance with water is best witnessed in human babies who can swim naturally and easily long before they learn to sit up or crawl.

Many benefits of water birth cause the current trend towards the process as it helps both the mother and the child. Water acts as a significant pain reliever, while enabling the mother to assume any position which gives the mother more feeling of control.

From a psychological perspective, this control during childbirth, also helps a higher degree of emotional well-being during postnatal period.

Being in water also promotes relaxation, conserving energy. The pain relieving nature of water also reduces the need for drugs and interventions usually taken by mothers. This reduction not only benefits the mother but the baby as well.

Studies have also found that it also helps reduce blood pressure and perenial tearing, giving more chances for natural births with minimum interferences and medical interventions. When considering this method for child birth there are certain facts that one needs to be aware of.

The cleanliness of the water should be given a major priority where the water temperature should be between 95-101 degrees F, depending on your preference. Once the baby was born, it is necessary to keep on track on how long the baby should stay under water.

Many people feel comfortable with the time that it takes for the mother to reach down and pick up the baby herself (called rapid emersion), any longer than that is not necessary.

The baby begins to breathe after its face comes out of the water and its skin and cord come into contact with the cooler air. Until then, the baby receives oxygen through the umbilical cord, as it has done throughout the nine months of pregnancy.

As for all these benefits, the medical care systems and its authorities should give this option for parents as it encourages an easier birth for the mother and a gentler welcome for baby.


Unfair rates for water supply

The rates for water consumption imposed by the NWS & DB at the level of consumption above 20 units per month is Rs. 30. The rate for consumption between 16 and 20 is Rs. 2.50. But this penal rate of Rs. 30 is unfair because it is calculated not for units above 20 units but for all units above 16 units.

In the case of electricity consumption, the rates of charges are uniform and not retroactive or retro-effective from a lower slab of consumption. So are the tax slabs when paying taxes.

There is also a big difference in the pattern of consumption of water and electricity. Electricity can be consumed in common by several members of a household such as for lighting, cooking, viewing TV, listening to radio etc. Some of the pleasures can be foregone easily.

So, it is easy to control or curtail consumption of power. But the use of water is personal such as for washing ones face, bathing, toilet use and cannot be shared nor controlled as its consumption is absolutely essential for good health and hygiene.

The number of units of consumption will vary with the number of family members which is a very variable quantity and cannot be controlled by the head of the household especially when there are extended families. The only way of reducing the water bill may be to have two metres. But this is a waste of resources.

When I wrote to the Water Board and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) through the Consumer Affairs Authority, the ridiculous reply was that this iniquitous provision is in the gazette notification of 13/2/2005. Surely cannot the NW&SB or the PUC suspend the operation of this gazette regulation in the public interest and in the cause of good hygiene?

This will also help to reduce the escalating Cost of Living. I appeal to the NWS & DB and the PUC to charge penal rates above 20 units only for units above 20 and not retro effectively from the 16th unit and suspend the operation of the gazette regulation till it is emended.


Violence against women

I read in the Daily News of December 22 a letter titled ‘Domestic violence should not be tolerated’ by Sirima, Boralesgamuwa where she has quoted Genesis of the Old testament to justify violence against women. In summing up she shamelessly says women will get the treatment they deserve.

In this context, I would like to point out that all the countries which have enshrined Christianity as the State religion in their constitutions promulgated legislation for the realisation of gender equality and accordingly, enacted laws making domestic violence and sexual harassment of women offences.

Aren’t these laws enacted in Christian countries, in contravention of the principle expounded in Genesis which Sirima wants all women to emulate. As such, isn’t it ludicrous for Sirima to jibe at the renowned personalities who appeal to the people via media not to harass women.

In conclusion, may I request Sirima to take the more rational step of requesting the Christian states to amend their constitutions to give legal effect to the divine command because the popular artistes whom she criticises for condemning violence against women, may be Buddhists who do not believe in divine command and also ardent advocates of gender equality so clearly expounded in Buddhist teachings.


Observation deck in trains

The observation deck in trains must be available to all travellers in rotation. Responsible passengers must vacate after one hour or less, so that other passengers can enjoy the scenery; being travelled in other parts of the world this is the way passengers travel. Respect and courtesy to other passengers must be instilled.

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