Birth Stories:

Hannah Rose


Born at 04h00 on the 10th April 2011.

Being a doula comes with great responsibility. No matter how passionate one is about one’s job there are always times that one is not prepared for and which pop up when least expected. Sometimes these occasions present their own set of difficulties. This is the hardest test for a doula. Meeting one’s client for the first time in the middle of labour is just such a challenge. Gone are those first meetings when one establishes a rapport with one’s client.  Gone is that special time when the bonds of love and trust are forged.

Just such a time happened to me in Cape Town recently.  I was asked to attend the birth of a little girl who’s mum was in an advanced stage of labour. There was no time to establish a connection with the mum so I had to take the vibe of the situation and went with my gut. We worked together with massage and a quiet presence, a cold face cloth when she was too hot and a touch when necessary.   After a short while Claire and Jason spent time together in the peace of their own bedroom and I had a cup of Earl Grey with the midwife.  Claire then chose to get into the birth pool which was beautifully warm and inviting.  The contractions definitely became more bearable to Claire and she could relax in the warm liquid of the pool.  Jason was really busy at this time caring for every ounce of her being. He massaged her, he gave her jungle juice and wiped her hot forehead.  What loving concern.

Very little time went by and Claire’s dog Leila came out of the bathroom where she had been all night and rested her chin on the lip of the birth pool.  I chatted to her while Claire squatted and held onto the side of the pool. Within two minutes Claire came back towards us and she had little Hannah-Rose in her arms. This was absolutely amazing, Leila had known just when the baby was about to be born and never missed a moment whereas poor Jason was moving the hose and came in to find his daughter in his wife’s arms. The time was 04h00 on the 10th April 2011.

Hannah-Rose was fiery and yelled a little until she could get some fluids out of her mouth and then she settled down to feeding and never looked back.   She stayed in the water with her mum and had her cord cut there by Dad and the midwife assisting.  She was feeding in the first 30 minutes of birth.  The placenta was intact and put in a bowl and taken to the kitchen where Marianne drew blood to be sent to the blood bank which is law in South Africa. There was no need for any further intervention as the birth had gone beautifully.

Claire, Jason and Hannah-Rose climbed into bed together to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy some time together.  I brought in some Earl Grey, said Good-bye and left having being part of a loving birth.

Driving home at 07h00 among the cyclists in the dark I thought how lucky I was to be able to witness the arrival of their new baby.  Thank you Claire and Jason for my first homebirth experience in your cosy inviting home.

From Marianne Littlejohn the midwife -

Claire and Hannah Rose after the birth

Pregnancy is a profoundly spiritual period in a woman’s life as she is connected with the incoming soul of her preborn child. It is an opportunity for deep reflection and meditation on the meaning and purpose of one’s life, an opportunity to face life squarely and truly take responsibility.

30 years ago, my birthplan was radical, in that I knew I did NOT wish to give birth in a hospital and I searched for and found a local midwife who helped me birth at home. I did NOT want an episiotomy and I did NOT want to be separated from my baby or my family. My requests were granted and I was not dissapointed. However in retrospect, when the midwife vigorously bathed my baby son as if he were a naughty boy found playing in the mud, I wished she hadn’t .  I would have preferred to bath him myself. I subsequently did so after the gentle births of my second and third sons.

Thinking about these kinds of  details for a birth plan beforehand is hard, because with our first baby we do not yet know what to expect. We read pregnancy magazines with frontal spreads of glamorous model moms full of glowing advice and beautiful outcomes(that gorgeous woman in skin-tight tops with a spotless baby smiling at the camera). Then, when we present our birthplans to our obstetricians, we cannot understand why they don’t seem to be paying serious attention.

For those of us who choose to follow the medical model of care, wish to have an epidural and/or  an elective caesarian section, writing and presenting a birthplan is easy, because it fits in with the obstetrical and technological paradigm. For those of us who are trusting of the medical doctors until we are taken by surprise in labour, or those of us who require emergency interventions, birthplans dissipate in the clanking of bowls, the brightness of the lights, the wheels sliding on the shiny floors, the orchestra of faces that explain in  sotto voce what will ‘happen’ next.

For those of us who intrinsically know what we want, such as a homebirth, we seek out caregivers/independent midwives who are more likely to fulfill our requests. And even then, we cannot always be sure we will get what we want. Women are vulnerable during labour and birth. It is the worst time to be fighting for change. This MUST be done during your pregnancy and in good time, so that you can change to an independent midwife and or an obstetrician who is willing to support a midwifery/women’s model of care.

Hannah Rose meets Emily

No matter what type of birth a woman chooses, she deserves to be treated with RESPECT, with HONOUR and CONFIDENCE in her ancient ability to give birth to new life. If these attitudes are not displayed by your doctor/midwife, it is time to think about finding a person who does treat you with respect. (I feel quite torn saying this, because there are thousands of women out there who don’t have choices, who are forced to attend government service clinics where they are treated with less respect than they deserve).

I was  recently privileged to attend the birth of Hannah Rose at home. Her Mom, Claire, had sent me explicit wishes for the birth and we made a point of familiarising ourselves with her birth plan. I include Claire’s Birth Plan below to show the kinds of issues that need to be thought about, the questions you need to ask yourself before the birth.

Claire’s Birth Plan

Basically, I’d like the birth to be calm, peaceful, serene and quiet. I’d like the room darkened, with candles and essential oils burning, and I’d like to be free to vocalize, change position, keep my eyes closed and be left to turn inward to mentally deal with what is happening.  If I do start to get tense, I’d like to be reminded to keep my mouth loose, touch myself, relax between contractions, vocalize, relax my shoulders.

I’d like to:

- be able to eat or drink whatever I like

- get in the pool when I’ve dilated to about 7 or 8cm

- burn candles and essential oils while in labour

- film the birth with a video camera on a tripod (will try to keep it out of the way)

- keep noise and talking to a minimum, I like it really quiet so I can focus on my visualizations

- be touched as little as possible

- be talked to as little as possible (last time you only said 3 things to me, and they were exactly what I needed to hear at that point, nothing more)

- no rupturing of membranes

- touch myself to help myself open up

- be able to vocalize while I’m opening up

- be able to change positions as I feel the need

- have Jason involved as much as possible, so that he’s very much a part of the birth, if possible, I’d like him to “catch” the baby and bring it up to me

- wait until I feel the urge to push, and if I don’t feel the urge, to be left to just breathe the baby out (if after a while you can sense that it isn’t happening, then by all means, tell me when to push)

- stay in the pool after the baby is born

- breastfeed the baby in the pool

- let the placenta come out of its own accord while I’m in the pool

- no tugging on the cord

- only get out of the pool with the baby when I feel ready

- only clamp and cut the cord on the baby’s side, after it’s stopped pulsating, I’d like Jason to cut it

- keep the baby with me as much as possible, I’d really prefer if it isn’t whisked away immediately to be checked, washed (if possible, check baby while one of us holds it)

- after we get out the pool, I’d like to rest quietly in bed with the baby and Jason

* I don’t want the baby to get a Vitamin K injection.  I’ll be breastfeeding, so it will get plenty Vitamin K in the colostrum.

* Instead of silver nitrate drops in my baby’s eyes, I’d prefer it to get Erythromycin, which is said to work better and is Should I also effective against Chlamydia, otherwise nothing.

* I’d like Emily to come home very soon after the baby is born to meet him or her and snuggle up with us.

Family Time after a beautiful birth!

In Fact,we were able to facilitate all these requests, except the request that Jason(her husband) catch the baby, because the baby was born at 4am in the caul and Claire brought her up out of the water herself!!

Jason cut the cord and Hannah latched onto the breast within the first 30 minutes after the birth. The Dad had skin to skin time with Hannah before Emily came home after sunrise and met her new sister!

I weighed Hannah Rose several hours later and noticed that jason had laid out the ‘caul’ with frangipani flowers to dry on a towel. So Beautiful!


0 #1 wrinkle reduction 2015-09-26 14:20
I like it whenever people get together and share ideas. Great website, continue the good work!

What I Do

I am living my dream while working with mums and babies. I see mums when they are 34 weeks pregnant and then go to their homes once they go into labour. I stay for the full duration of the labour and after the birth I assist them with breast feeding. I do another visit after the birth to see that all is well and to help where I can.  Mums are always welcome to call me in the event that they have any questions, whether before or after the birth. I am passionate about my work as a doula and I care and love all the families with which I work. Once you have been present at a birth you feel part of the family and it’s wonderful to hear news of the new baby’s life as he or she grows.

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