Ra’isa Hathey-Jaffer’s Birth Story
Firstly thank you to the recent posts on positive births and wanting to bring back the norm of natural, beautiful and powerful births. I’d like to share my beautiful birth, the one who made me a mom, and ignited a flame inside – the one that made me care for other mother’s well-being and that of their babies.
I fell pregnant in 2015 with my first baby, and thankfully had the most amazing pregnancy experience. My natural outlook in life is to be positive and take whatever comes my way and make it work. However, I also attended wonderful antenatal classes with an amazing Lactation Consultant, and she further inspired me to believe in myself, my body and God Almighty. Women were born to do this and every inch of our body has its purpose when it comes to this miracle journey.
At 39 weeks I started feeling very mild contractions in the early morning hours. I didn’t realise it at the time, however I felt these mild period-like cramps. I woke up at 5am again and helped my husband get ready for work. Thankfully I started my maternity leave two weeks early. I stood swaying my hips every time I felt a cramp as I made breakfast.
After he left, I had a warm shower and thought I may as well have a really good nap before doing anything for the day (perhaps subconsciously I knew what awaited). I woke up again at 11am and started getting more frequent cramps, 15min apart. This time I took it easy by bouncing on my bouncy ball whilst informing my husband and mom that I may have started labour. Naturally they panicked, but I kept calm, trusting in my body and the Almighty. Husband came home and kept asking if we shouldn’t go to the hospital. I said only once contractions were closer together. I felt in control, calm and positive.
Once the contractions were about 6-7min apart (approx. 4-5pm) I said now we go. We drove to the hospital. As I am quite small the Sister didn’t realize I was already 39weeks, belatedly offering a wheelchair. But again, I felt in control and walked to the labour room, remembering that movement is what is going to help. Once there I made myself comfortable with my bag of healthy snacks and the bouncy ball. Walking around and just taking deep slow breaths with each contraction. I was about 3-4cm at this point.
My parents and in-laws popped in, excited at their first grandchild about to make her appearance. I kept moving and bouncing. The parents were quite taken aback at my refusal to just lie down. Eventually I put my Flower of Fatima in warm water and the parents decided to go home and let us rest as we were told it was going to be a long night, it was about 8pm at this time. When the midwife came in she mentioned her surprise at the Flower of Fatima being so wide open.
As everyone left, I lay down a bit and that’s when my waters broke. A beautiful pop, just like a balloon, and water gushing everywhere. At that point I was having a contraction and couldn’t speak just as my hubby walked in to say his mom forgot her bag! I couldn’t tell him my water broke. Eventually I called a nurse who helped me get into a warm bath. My husband froze when coming back in and hearing the news, a moment I’ll never forget, the reality kicking in.
I sat in the warm water swaying from side to side, till the water even splashed over. My husband not knowing what else to do but pray and hold my hand. It was all I needed from him. I thought I wasn’t going to make it and asked for an epidural. The midwife asked that I get out to dry off and examine me at which she ran out to call the Doctor, I was at 10cm! She came back in and told me not to push, but as instinct was taking over, I yelled back “don’t tell me not to push!” I kept having the urge to poop, and at first held back but quickly reminded myself that my body knows what to do, I need to trust it and have faith in the Almighty.
My Doctor came in just in time as the baby’s head was crowning. A few big pushes and sadly a small episiotomy, Doctor asked me to hold out my hands. I pulled my baby girl up and held her. We cried and laughed at the same time, for she had so much hair! We asked for delayed cord cutting, and the midwife gently pushed for the birth of the placenta. After stitching me up and allowing those precious few moments, they did her Apgar and gave her to dad while I had another warm bath. All cleaned up and into a fresh bed, my baby and I were wheeled into the maternity ward where she slept skin to skin every night for the next few nights.
The most beautiful birth thanks to God Almighty and my wonderful body. I must admit, of course there were challenges, latching, reflux, baby blues etc. but all in all a great experience. My son’s birth however was not as amazing, but thankfully still a natural without epidural again.
My children’s births and postpartum periods ignited a passion within me to really care and reach out to mothers. Listening to their experiences, offering advice and just being present in their journey. I’ve just completed a course as a postpartum doula and want to see the norm being beautiful, powerful births where women feel in control and trust their bodies and their abilities as a mother, free of judgement and condescending advice.