Ever wondered what would happen if you went into labour and couldn’t make it to the hospital in time? Mama SK shares her very much unexpected home birth experience!
When we received an email from a reader asking if she could share her home birth experience with all the Sassy Mamas out there, we were seriously intrigued. Mama (and dental surgeon) SK describes her surprisingly awesome experience and shares her top 10 tips for making it through a home birth, too!
My family recently welcomed our second child, Max. His arrival was an absolute surprise because he came almost three weeks early and was delivered at home by my dear husband, Dean.
With more than two weeks to go, I was busy as usual at work. Dean and I attended the Victoria Beckham closing show for Singapore Fashion Week with my budding fashionista daughter, Faye, in tow. Thinking we still had time, my hospital bag was only half packed and we hadn’t even shortlisted any names yet.
Later that night after the fashion show, I felt some tummy discomfort. I thought it was Braxton Hicks contractions, or blamed it on the canapés we had earlier at the event. I was silently praying and thinking “Nah, it can’t be the baby. Plus I have a patient who flew into town to get some treatment done…” The “contractions” were more than 40 minutes apart. I didn’t think much about it and tried to get back to sleep.
But when the last “contraction” came, it was intense and I instinctively jumped off the bed. This was when my water bag broke. With that, the pain came on massively. I called out to Dean, “The baby is coming!” He quickly alerted our helper to bring the hospital bag to the car because we had to rush to the hospital. Then I took a few steps around the bed and told him “I don’t think I can make it to hospital. The baby is coming now. I need to lie down”.
Dean was amazingly steadfast, he called for our helper, Marichu, to quickly place two towels on the bed. Soon after I laid down, the baby came. No huffing and puffing or time to apply anything I’d learnt at pre-natal classes. It all happened within minutes and was surreal.
Once the baby was out, Dean made sure the cord wasn’t around the baby’s neck and that he was able to cry. We got a fresh swaddle to wrap the baby in to keep him warm. In the frenzy, Dean initially thought we had a baby girl – we hadn’t found out the baby’s gender of the baby beforehand – but it turned out we had a baby boy!
He then Googled “what to do in a home birth” and it was important that we clamped the cord. At this point, I was feeling fine so I suggested we use a clothes peg. Even though it wasn’t sterile, we had to improvise.
It was then we called the gynaecologist to inform her what happened and called for the ambulance. It took a while before the paramedics came to properly clamp the cord and cut it before being taking us to the hospital.
After everything, we noticed some parallels with the births of both Max and Faye. With Faye, there were also no real symptoms of labour until my water bag burst. Thereafter, everything was fast and furious, though at least for her, we managed to rush to the hospital and she was delivered within minutes after we got there with no epidural or doctor present.
Everyone says I’m pretty lucky to make giving birth look easy with a short labour. I’d like to attribute it to eating well and light exercise throughout my pregnancy, but it may be that some women just have faster deliveries than others! My recovery was excellent because I could walk within a few hours after birth; I even went back to work to wrap things up with my rescheduled patients when Max was 2 days old. Now, I am on official maternity leave and enjoy spending time with my children at home, documenting each day with lots of photographs!
In 20/20 hindsight, my top 10 tips for unplanned home birth would be:
- Just in case, make sure you and your birthing partner read up well in advance (at least a month!) on what to do in case of emergency. Some good resources are What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Babycenter. When in doubt, Google!
- Never underestimate contractions no matter how slight or far apart they may be. Check yourself into hospital early if you think you can’t cope with the unexpected at home.
- Pack your hospital bag in advance (at 35 weeks) so that you have everything you need when the time comes.
- Prep your birthing partner (or anyone else who might be home with you, like a helper or relative) to make sure you have help should the unexpected happen anywhere, anytime.
- Have your gynaecologist on speed dial, or even FaceTime
- Ensure that no cord is around the baby’s neck, check vitals and stimulate the baby to cry at birth.
- Have clean muslin towels or swaddles on hand to wrap the baby after birth.
- Get your fridge stocked or organise your confinement food beforehand.
- If you want to do maternity photographs, get them well in advance (I’d suggest around 33 weeks). I’d also suggest pre-booking newborn photographers so it’s one less thing to deal with once the baby’s arrived!
- Above all else, stay calm, and improvise if you have to!
So there you have it mamas, a real-life home birth story and some fantastic top tips too! If you have a birthing, motherhood or baby story you’d like to share please get in touch with us at [email protected]. We love hearing from you!