The moment I gave birth to my first baby, she was immediately whisked away for suctioning despite being vigorous at birth. The immediate cord clamping and suctioning was routine, and unnecessarily prevented us from seeing each other for nearly an hour.
My second baby was born hypoxic and requiring resuscitation, after his umbilical cord became compressed and it was cut minutes before he was born. We were separated for hours and our reunion was impacted by his condition, my shock, and the need to keep him heavily-wrapped in clothing and blankets.
Giving birth a third time was a much safer experience. The midwife suggested a water birth and within minutes of entering the bath I was ecstatic to feel his soft, silky head emerge from my body. I loved how the water created my own ‘birthing space’ in the hospital and I was very grateful to catch my own baby and keep him in my arms.
But pregnant with my fourth baby, I chose not to have another water birth or have our first contact underwater.
I was hoping to give birth on hands-knees like my first two labours, but without any interference. Expecting a fast and painful labour, I really wanted to be sure my baby was coping well with contractions and for us to avoid any need for second-stage vaginal exams, clamps, scissors, suctioning or separation…
So to improve on past outcomes and alleviate fears of my baby being injured at birth, I opted to pay for continuous care by a private midwife rather than the free midwifery clinic at the hospital. My midwife had extensive experience in hospital and out-of-hospital birth and a no-nonsense approach to birth, risk and collaborating with obstetricians and other midwives. She was perfect for me!
In the winter of June 2013 I was extremely fortunate to experience the safest birth I could hope for:
another healthy baby,
a gentle labour,
a spontaneous upright birth,
a rapid neonatal transition,
the umbilical cord untouched,
‘placental transfusion’ assisted by gravity,
and our greeting at birth unfolding instinctively and without being rushed.