Having a Baby in Belize- The birth of Khaya. Belize, Central America.
Our guest blogger today is Cheryl Rowland-Nunez, from Belize.
I had a few different options for where to have my baby. I knew I did NOT want to have my baby in a Belize public hospital as I had heard stories about the treatment of birthing mothers and I did not want to be in that situation. I wanted to have my baby in a safe and caring way. I wanted to have control over what happened to me during the labour and I did not think a public hospital here in Belize would give me the experience I was looking for. My three options were: 1. Travel back to Canada to have a hospital or home birth. 2. Have the baby at a private hospital in Belize City. 3. Have a home birth with a midwife I had found by an online search. We decided not to take a chance with going to Canada if Luckie had problems getting his visa. I did not want to get stuck last minute making a plan B. I had been getting my prenatal care at the private hospital in Belize City which was a very good facility but still a hospital with policies and proceedures that did not really allow me to have everything I wanted. So we chose to go with the midwife. I really wanted to have a water birth and we had met with the midwife and really liked her. She is a woman who worked as a midwife for many years in Canada and the US, highly qualified and experienced with more than 1500 births. She and her husband moved to Belize to retire but she continued to catch babies calling herself “midwife without borders” travelling all over the world delivering babies. I had contacted her and she was available at the time of my due date.
Luckie was a little unsure about what I was talking about but after meeting with the midwife he was feeling much better about the birth I wanted and confident in our midwife. Men in Belize often do not want to attend the birth or are not allowed to do so and so you can imagine what he was thinking about my birth plan. I insisted that he be there even though he was thinking it might be a better idea for him to stay back and work as much as possible.
We decided instead of having the midwife come to Hopkins where my back up hospital would have been Dangriga (I did not want this, I do not like the care I have seen at the hospital there) we decided to go to her. I would travel up to Corozal two weeks before my due date and wait. We happened to have some friends who live there also and they kindly offered us their home while they would take a vacation to Mexico.
I traveled up to Corozal by plane (small local Cessna) on Jan 4th. Shortly after arriving things got very uncomfortable for me. Every time I would walk I would experience fairly uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions and I was done with the swelling and just being big and awkward. I had a feeling like I should just take it easy and not move around too much until my Mom and sister arrived on the 7th. Luckie stayed back in Hopkins to work and we agreed he would come up on the 14th unless I called him up earlier. I was due on the 18th. My Dad was also scheduled to arrive on the 12th. So anyway I parked my pregnant butt in the hammock and didn’t leave the house until the 7th. I enjoyed those few days as much as possible knowing that these may be the last days I would spend alone for a long long time.
The 7th finally arrived and I was quite excited to see my Mom and sister. They arrived that evening around 7pm and we agreed to meet for dinner. I walked down and met them at a restaurant near the apartment they had rented. After dinner my sister walked back with me as she was going to stay with me at the house.
I woke up at 12:30am to use the washroom and felt wetness as soon as I got up. It was like I peed myself but different, I had no control of it and almost immediately realized my water was breaking. I used the washroom and then woke my sister. We called the midwife and started to prepare things for labour to start which it did about 1:00am. I called Luckie and told him to come. It was a 5 hour drive for him and he had not really arranged anything or anyone to help him get to Corozal yet so he had to call his friend out of bed and they started the drive.
The midwife came and we headed over to the apartment to set up there. When we got there we discovered there was no hot water and no gas in the tank to heat up water on the stove so we had to go back to the house I was staying at. My labour seemed to progress fairly quickly and I was having contractions 5 minutes apart almost right away. A few hours in and I was worried Luckie wouldn’t make it. I cried a little about this and that was the only time I cried. I desperately wanted him to be there when his daughter was born. We were texting each other the whole time. I was updating him on my condition and progress and he was updating me on his location. He arrived around 6am and things got pretty intense after he arrived. I got into the pool and it was amazing how the warm water cut my pain in half. My team was awesome. The midwife checked on me every so often to see how things were progressing and the baby’s heartbeat. My sister is a doula and she played the most active role in clocking my contractions and offering guidance and assistance. Both my mom and my sister were very encouraging and supportive. Luckie was so calm and he was my rock which was a bit surprising. I thought he would be more tense and nervous but he seemed so calm and was there for me doing just what I needed.
When the baby started to crown Luckie got into the tub with me. Previously the midwife had told Luckie he could catch the baby if he wanted to. When it came time he was sitting behind me and wasn’t sure he could get around me in time so I just spun around in the water. I really wanted him to catch our baby!
I guess one of my biggest fears was to tear so I worked really hard to not push too hard and ease the baby out as slow as I could. Resisting the urge to push her right out was the hardest part of the whole thing. I also remember feeling so exhausted at this point. I was getting very little rest between contractions.
Khaya was born into the water and Luckie’s waiting hands at 8:30 am. She was removed from the water and given to me. It took her about a minute to take her first breath. She seemed so calm that I wasn’t worried. She just looked at me and I looked at her, finally we meet!
I was transferred to the bed and we waited for the placenta. The cord was cut by Luckie once Khaya was breathing and the cord was no longer pulsating, there was no rush to cut the cord. Khaya stayed on my chest, skin to skin, and we waited for her to find and latch on to my breast by herself. It is called the breast crawl an it it pretty amazing! A newborn has the ability to crawl up a mothers chest and root around, using smell and touch to find the nipple and latch on all without assistance. It took Khaya about an hour to do. Allowing a baby to do this sets them up for good latch and breastfeeding success.
Luckie’s experience of the birth was very positive and he felt an immediate bond with Khaya. He had to go back to Hopkins shortly after but he did not want to leave us.
After my experience I could not imagine giving birth any other way and recommend a home birth to anyone with a healthy and normal pregnancy.
I felt empowered and satisfied with how everything went. The labour and delivery progressed at my pace, no one rushing me, no one slowing me down, no one cutting me or poking or prodding me. I could walk or lie down or sit or do whatever felt right at the time without being attached to a bunch of machines restricting my movements. Instead of listening to a doctor tell me what was happening to my body I had the peace to be able to listen to my body tell me what was happening. It was not a medical emergency, it was a natural process that I was designed to do. It was hard and it was exhausting but it was awesome!
Many thanks to Cheryl for this interesting blog.
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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. Her books are on Amazon and Kindle, or can be ordered from most leading book stores and libraries. More about Catherine Broughton, to include her interesting blogs and her sketches, on http://turquoisemoon.co.uk
Click below for one of the Baby Black Rabbit series, this one dedicated to Khaya:-