My 4th baby born at hospital – and my 5th baby born at home

by  Tasniem Boltman

I have 5 children, 2 of whom were birthed with Angela.

With my first pregnancy I didn’t realise the need for options, or even that I had options. We are so indoctrinated into believing that we have to give birth in a hospital with a Gynae. I had no medical aid, so I gave birth at a public hospital. I felt very anxious and alone. It was my first birth and I wasn’t quite sure what was happening and no one took the time to even talk to me.

When I fell pregnant for the second time, I wanted to go private so I could have more personal care. I didn’t have medical aid and ended up choosing Liesbeeck Active Birth Unit at Mowbray Maternity  Hospital. I had a quick uncomplicated birth, but with the high volume of births that day I had no personal care from the midwives.

I went to a private hospital with my third still in search of that personal care, and this experience was what led me to choose home birth. I was given morphine and my waters were broken without any explanation nor even my consent! Although I had no complications, this was a very traumatic  birthing experience . I also suffered from post natal depression. At this point I had briefly read  about homebirth already and vowed to choose a better option for myself next time.

So when it came to my fourth pregnancy, I did a whole lot of research on homebirth and came across Birth Options where I was introduced to Angela. Might I just say that this was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Anyway, the trauma from the previous birth remained with me  and I was a bit depressed during this pregnancy. But Angela was so supportive and always  encouraging, and I always felt better after each visit with her. However, towards the end of the pregnancy we discovered that I had polyhydramnios (extra fluid around the baby) and had to be admitted to hospital to be induced rather than our planned home birth. I was very scared and had flashbacks of the pain I had to endure with my previous birth, also the scary feeling of not being in control.  Once again Angela was there every step of the way to comfort and encourage me. She came to meet me at the hospital and made sure to speak with the doctors and explain my fears to them. Even with medical intervention everything ran way more smoothly and Angela was there to birth my baby. My baby was born naturally at 4kgs (without any need for stitches!) after 7hrs of labour. Had it not been for Angela the doctors would have probably done a C-section.

So, naturally when it came to my fifth pregnancy I chose Angela again. My visits with Angela felt like therapy to me. No matter how tough my pregnancy was or how stressful it was having to look after  four kids and being pregnant, Angela always made me feel comfortable and relaxed. I always looked forward to my visits with her. This time round we had no complications and a home birth was  possible! My last week was very stressful as I was in a lot of pain from haemorrhoids, but once again Angela was there to help me cope.

When it was finally time and my waters broke, Angela and her doula were here within 30 minutes.   They came and got their equipment set up, all while still seeing to me and encouring me. I was very scared that something was going to go wrong or that I wouldn’t be able to cope, but Angela quickly  reassured me and everything ran smoothly from then on. My husband was holding my hand every step of the way, the doula was rubbing my pressure points, and Angela was checking baby’s heart  rate and offering words of encouragement all the way. When things started progressing I got onto the bed in a half sitting position resting in my husband’s lap. Angela asked my consent to do an internal after which she recommended I move over onto my side to help baby progress. She was holding my hand at this stage. As the pain got more intense, I made sure to remember my breathing and follow Angela’s instructions. I started feeling the urge to push, and with my first push I felt the burning sensation of my baby’s head crowning. The doula held up a mirror for me to see what was happening. It was the most beautiful vision ever! A few more pushes and my baby was handed to me. I felt so emotional I laughed and cried at the same time. My baby weighed 3.5 kgs, and labour was only 1.5hrs!

The best part of all though is that I had my whole family at home, I did not have to be separated from my kids. My mom came in to meet her grandson while he was still attached to me. His sisters’ came in to meet him shortly after the umbilical cord was cut. It was the most perfect family moment. Another highlight for me was that I could have a bath in my own bathroom, after which I     could come back and cuddle up in my own bed with my husband and baby.

I asked my husband what he would like to say about the whole experience and he said that he could write a book with all he had to say! But basically it was a positive experience and these are the points he would like to highlight. He says that as a husband it is a very scary experience having to watch your wife go through this life and death experience every time and not being able to do           anything. It was especially scary doing it at home. But having Angela eased the fear, and she was always there to address any questions or concerns. And with the home birth, the best part for him  was that he got to hold his son skin to skin while I was in the bath. And that he did not have to be  separated from his wife. He also liked having the doula because it allowed him more quality time with me.

Angela stayed for a while to make sure everything was ok. We just chatted and I thanked her for giving me the perfect birthing experience. I have and will continue to recommend Angela to everyone I know. I not only recommend a midwife for a homebirth, but also as your primary caregiver for hospital births. A happy and secure mother makes for a positive birthing experience.

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Angela The Midwife