A young lady and man came to see me a little while back. They wanted a home birth. It was their first baby. They were in their early twenties and had met in South America. They travelled around living free for over a year together and then found they were pregnant. The young woman was from Spain while her partner was from South America. She wanted to come home to have her baby, understandably, so they both came to Spain. They had very strong views about living in nature and wanted a natural birth. I was touched by their devotion to each other and their beliefs.
The young ladies family were a classic Spanish family and knew nothing of home birth. This idea frightened them so to keep the peace the young girl agreed to do dilatation at home and deliver in the hospital, but with out drugs or hopefully interventions. I agreed to support them in their wishes and also to support them in hospital during the birth. We give three options in my centre, home birth, home dilatation with hospital support (in this role we are more like dulas) and home dilatation with transfer to the private hospital where we can deliver (this is a very expensive option, unfortunately).
A few weeks later My colleague and I visited this couple to discuss their wishes for the time they were at home. We also talked about the possibility of staying home and delivering, if she felt she would prefer this in the moment. The couple were just as lovely and fresh as the day I first met them, but I felt the young father to be was a bit anxious and distant. In this visit I tried to express the importance of his role, feeling that maybe he was concerned about this. I encouraged him that although we were the professionals, he would be the most important person supporting in the birth. He seemed comforted by this. A few weeks later the young mum rang me to say that he had left her.
She was 36 weeks pregnant and crying on the other end of the phone. I felt heart broken for them both. She explained that he was frightened and felt lost. She asked if I would still attend her and if I knew of any other women who had to birth without their partners. I told her that we were there for her and that I would be with her no matter what. I went round to visit her the next day. She was stronger and determined to have her baby her way regardless. She was positive and very wise for her age, in this situation. I found myself feeling very proud of her and wanting her to somehow have the best birth, so she could really know her power and ability as a woman and mother.
Two weeks later, while attending another birth, this young lady rings me to let me know she is contracting. She is being supported by her oldest and best friend. I explain I am out of the city at another birth, but that baby had been born so I would be with her as soon as I could. As it was first baby, I felt I had time to get there.
I arrived to find my lady in her tiny bath. She was contracting every 5 min, Her contractions were strong and long and she was coping well. Her lovely friend and I got to work filling the pool so that she could be more comfortable in dilatation. Unfortunately, her hot water was in very short supply so filling the pool became a real challenge involving the neighbour and many pots of boiling water. In the end we got her in and she laboured so beautifully well. There is something to truly be said for being young and labouring. Young women seem to breeze through labour. They move very easily into that animal state and are able to disconnect from their rational brain in a way that older mums seem to find more difficult to do. This has been my experience, of course there are exceptions to every rule.
Three hours into my arrival, this young woman was doing so well. I could see her labour was progressing well and a quick VE confirmed this. She was 8cm dilated and moving on beautifully. I explained this to her and asked if she wanted to go to hospital. Her answer was what I expected and hopped. She wanted to stay and was happy in the pool. During this time and throughout the whole labour I was struck by the beauty of the relationship between her and her best friend. There was so much love and understanding between them. I felt somehow that had her partner been there it would have not been this way.
One hour on I could see that we were nearing the end and I asked her again if she wanted to go to hospital. I explained that it was fine for her to stay but that I would need to ring for the 2nd midwife to come if we were delivering at home. To my delight, she said for me to ring my colleague! This beautiful, powerful young woman had made her choice and taking each contraction like a goddess she was going to deliver her boy at home.
I rang my colleague who arrived shortly after. We prepared all we could for the birth and within an hour and a half later she was pushing her beautiful boy out. She delivered so well and so controlled that she did not tear. Her lovely boy weighed 3550g.
This birth was 100% normal. Everything went like clock work. She laboured 6 hours in total and nothing significant can be said to have occurred on one hand. But the experience for this young woman was life changing. Choosing to birth at home. Having the confidence in her body to do what she dreamed and wished to do. In her birth she found the source of her power and confidence in her ability to be the lioness protecting her cub, when needed. They both took to breast feeding with ease and support from our lactation consultant. Now this boy has grown into a chubby cherub.
My postnatal visits with this extraordinary young woman have re affirmed to me how important a good birth is to both mother and baby. Her partner visited once to my knowledge but this young woman has taken to motherhood and in fact single motherhood like a eagle to flight. She is soaring with natural ability and a clear vision for the type of mother she wants to be. I have such confidence in her and know this young boy will lack for nothing in love and protection.
A bad birth can scar us for life and a good birth can be the making of us as mothers and women. Of course there are many factors that can add or take away form our birthing experience but I believe that good support can turn a possible bad experience into something amazing. This young girl was so fortunate to have her beautiful friend a loving family and also to find our team of midwives. I was so happy to have shared this experience with her and will think of her and her wee boy often.