I attended the most wonderful all natural water birth on the weekend, that of my latest grandson – Harrison. I share his birth story with you.
Kelly (my daughter) was booked for the Wimmali Birth Centre. She had a fabulous midwife called Sally. However because of a shortage of doctors they closed the birthing facilities at the centre until further notice.
We had to go to Wiimali Hospital. Jane was still allowed to attend. We arrived after labouring at home in and out of the bath. Kelly had been freely able to move around the house and no fetal hearts were monitored. I just asked if Kelly felt her baby moving and asked Kelly how she felt. Great!
We arrived at the doors of Wimmali Hospital to have three people run at us, ask what was happening. We didn’t get to answer. They saw she was in the middle of a contraction and ran for a wheelchair. We said three times – “we don’t want a wheelchair, we can walk!” The response was “The rule is, if you are contracting you must sit in a wheelchair and be wheeled”. When Kelly finally gave in to pressure she sat and the male nurse in the emergency department said “we won”. Commence the patient and power struggle!
All the way up to the labour ward g area the woman pushing Kelly kept asking – “How long have you been contracting and how close – I just want to know in case I need to deliver in the lift, as the last lady did.” My response remained – long enough and close enough, she’ll be O.K. don’t you worry.
The hospital midwife FORGOT to put Kelly in the birthing room and placed us close to the nurse’s station (I use the word nurse deliberately). She said I just need to check the baby’s heart rate and returned with a huge machine to wrap around Kelly’s stomach. I don’t know if she would have placed it on Kelly, as Kelly asked to get into the bath the minute the midwife walked in the room with the monitor and I asked simultaneously when was the birth centre midwife Sally arriving. One minute later (yes one minute after the first midwife, that we didn’t know, entered the room) a second one came into assess what was happening. The baby’s heart rate was recorded with a small sonicad for a minute and Kelly got into the bath.
The first midwife came back to test the water with what looked like a cattle prong and told us the water is too hot and it’s not good for the baby. We would have to add cold water. Too bad that we didn’t have the cattle prong at home or for that matter the whole pregnancy when Kelly had been having hot baths. Any way back to the story.
Again I asked when the midwife was arriving. Sally, Kelly’s midwife was off that day and we were to have Steve, also a Wiimali Birth Centre midwife. Steve who Kelly had never met before walked in as the water policewoman was leaving the room.
Although this male midwife had never met Kelly or Bart (her husband) he entered the room quietly, sat next to the bath and introduced himself. He asked how Kelly was going. We all felt so happy to meet Steve, the atmosphere changed instantly – Kelly was safe. I asked if the water policewoman needed to enter the room again and he assured us he would let no one in. Eventually he did do some baby heart rates and Kelly’s observations, but basically he was so unobtrusive I didn’t notice he was doing anything. He just sat there and every now and then praised Kelly for how well she was doing.
Sally had asked Steve to ring her so Sally ended up coming for the birth later in the day. The bathroom had no lights on. There was Steve, Sally, Bart and myself sitting around the bath quietly supporting Kelly to do what she needed to do.
Harrison arrived in the bath, Sally lifted him to Kelly’s chest and there he lay. No oxygen, suction, lights, talking (a lot of crying, but not from Harrison). Eventually, when the cord stopped pulsating, Bart cut the cord and Nan (that’s me) got to hold Harry. Bart, Steven and Sally helped Kelly onto the toilet to pass the placenta. All done – no fuss. Every step physiological – incredible!
Harrison, Kelly and Bart were absolutely beautiful and she couldn’t have had a better woman-centred empowering birth if she had written it academically for a textbook. The lights were dim, no talking, the midwives did nothing to the naked eye (all the hospital midwives must have been spewing – no work going on in that room). Sally and Steve provided the most incredible midwifery care. They:
Only did what Kelly wanted,
It was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. I know what the hype is all about now – this normal birth bit. To witness a birth like that is life changing. Steve and Sally are the midwives every birthing woman should have. I cry every time I think about Harrison’s birth. So wonderful!
A final word.
When Kelly was pushing, I heard the door open in the room (not in the bathroom where we were). Steve went out and I heard the doctor ask what is she up to, is she pushing? Steve’s beautiful reply was “she is having a baby thanks, so out you go”.
When Kelly was ready to go home (I had left), she had to sit back in the wheelchair to vacate the premises (poor fragile woman who has just been through a lot, she needs to act like a patient). However, she was not allowed to hold her baby. Even sitting in a SAFE wheelchair surrounded by her partner/baby’s father and the wheelchair pusher. The mother could not be trusted to hold her own baby! Hospitals are not the place for well women to birth!
I am so proud of my daughter.
ps … Our Wimmali Birth Centre has since re-opened.
Story by Kelly’s mum