Birth and Death

My friend was in her 39th week of pregnancy when she called me. "Carla, I'm at the hospital, they can't find my baby's heartbeat." She was sobbing. It had been eight years since the less-than-ideal birth of her first child - her planned home birth became a traumatic ventouse delivery in the hospital. This baby was her chance at a healing birth experience, and a much longed for brother and son. And now she was telling me that, "They're taking me for a scan to confirm my baby's passed, then they're going to put me into labour." What do you say to a friend who's devastated beyond imagination, what can you possibly say that could be of any help? 

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Your Body, Your Baby, Your Birth... Your Responsibility

I talk with a lot of women about birth and can't help but feel disheartened by the language I often hear them using when they relay their experiences... 

"I had to have a caesarean because my baby was breech." 

"I wasn't allowed to go more than two weeks overdue." 

"They wouldn't let me try for a natural birth because..." 

"My midwife decided to pop my waters to help speed things up." 

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Delayed Cord Clamping - Why Wait?

It seems my parents were ahead of their time when, in 1976, they asked that their doctor, who was attending my birth, sign an agreement which, amongst other things, stated that my umbilical cord was not to be clamped until it had stopped pulsating. Thankfully he agreed, and was amazed to witness my cord pulsating for 15 minutes before it was clamped and cut (indeed, it was the first time he had ever left a cord intact for more than a brief moment following birth). My wonderful parents had read that leaving the cord intact allows the baby to experience a much more gentle start to breathing. It was argued that when the cord is cut immediately following birth, the baby has to suddenly suck in air, causing pain in their delicate and sensitive virginal airway. By leaving the cord to continue pulsating after the birth, the baby is supplied with oxygen while it gradually learns how to breathe... a much more gentle start to terrestrial life.

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Scanning for Trouble

I was working as a midwife when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I had no idea how far along my pregnancy was and allowed myself the excuse that, as a midwife, I needed to know when I was due so that I didn't book anyone whose due date was too close to mine. So, off I went to my 'dating scan', excited at the prospect of seeing my little baby on a screen.

The scanning process turned out to be a rather invasive one. Being so early on in my pregnancy the ultrasonographer told me I'd need a trans-vaginal scan - immediately my romantic notions of 'seeing' my unborn child were diminished (this, by the way, was the only 'internal examination' of any sort that I had throughout all three of my pregnancies and births). But the worse was yet to come... My tiny unborn child had no heartbeat. "The size of your baby suggests an age of 5 1/2 weeks, by which time we would usually be seeing a beating heart," the ultrasonographer plainly informed me. "Come back for another scan in 7 -10 days and we'll check for a heartbeat again."

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