Media treatment of “baby in a hurry” stories

The British tabloids seem to love a good story about a baby that gets its little self born before the midwife arrives or on the way to the local hospital (usually in rush hour traffic).  I once saw a bit of film that was taken in a London (Eng) tobacconist’s shop; a birth caught on the store’s security camera.  The parents had been out shopping in downtown London when the woman realized the baby was on its way.  They went in the tobacco shop to use the phone and, while the father was in the back telephoning, the woman gave birth to the entire baby in her black stretch pants.  She was leaning over the counter and the whole thing was caught on tape. 

Recently on the Australian midwives email list, there was a story of a woman who gave birth in the front seat of her husband’s car on the way to the hospital in the morning rush hour.  Traffic was at a standstill so she held her newborn up to the window so the other travellers could have a look at a little one so new.

We seem to have one or two of these stories in our local paper every year, too, so it’s not a completely unusual occurrence.  I usually send these stories off to my pal, Laura Shanley, who is the guru of the unassisted birthers in the U.S.  She always points out to me, and it’s true, that the mother seems to have a bit part in these dramatic productions of the news media.  Full credit for heroism and quick thinking goes to the father, child, passerby, ambulance dispatcher—anyone BUT the woman.  She seems to have a bit part and, if anything, is just a naughty person for putting all those people through a lot of worry. 

What is missed is that birthing a speedy baby without any professionals around is actually a safe process.  I have read these stories for 30 years and have never seen a single one that involved a true complication.  In the one that I have linked above, there’s some talk about the baby being bluish but that’s normal and unmedicated babies are able to clear their own airways just fine if left alone for a minute.  A cord around the neck is not an emergency and can easily be unwound by the birthing woman.  Two important things that happen in these straightforward births is that 1. the cord is left to pulse until the baby is breathing well because there are no clamps handy and 2. the baby is held continuously by the mother which helps insure that she does not bleed heavily.

The one thing that I did love in the British story is the photo of the father with that “new Dad sheen” on his face.  I’m sure that the newspapers will continue to write these stories with all the drama laced throughout them but, remember, birth is a healthy, normal elimination process of the body that happens smoothly, easily and quickly for some women and their babies.  It’s an emergence, see?

10 thoughts on “Media treatment of “baby in a hurry” stories

  1. I didn’t see the story, but I’ll the “new Dad sheen” was sweat! Gloria, I love and honor your respect for the “emergence”!

  2. Thank you once again, for reminding us that babies will be born when babies are ready to be born. Birth is not an emergency, and that if a baby is ready to be born that quickly it is because everything is normal!

  3. About 5 years ago there was a crazy snowstorm in Halifax, NS. The police were the only responders who could get to her for her “emergency” birth. In their infinite wisdom, they put a pushing mother in the front end of a BUCKETLOADER and covered her with “warm coats and blankets”. She arrived to the hospital “just in time” and gave birth to a … Read Morehealthy baby. I was holding my 6 mo old in my arms at the time and sickened by the treatment of this woman, while everyone else just said “isn’t she lucky!!” She needed a warm house and some loving people around her to help her welcome her little one 🙂

  4. Gloria, I took a look at the dad. The smile is strained and his eyes are shocky!
    Oh, and I wanted to tell you I started a blog–finally. Have no idea what I’m doing, but your courage inspired me to at least set it up! Thank you!

  5. Thanks for posting it there, Bob, that’s a fun thing.

    Here’s my reply to the ambulance driver:
    Dear CDG, being a medic for 25 years doesn’t mean that your training was accurate. A cord around the neck is a nuchal cord not a prolapsed cord. A prolapsed cord is a cord that is NOT around the neck and one which has fallen down in front of the baby’s head. This is a true obstetric emergency which is, most often, caused by a doctor/midwife/nurse artificially breaking the amniotic sac with an instrument that is like a crochet hook. Hopefully, no dad or ambulance driver will be monkeying around like that so you won’t be likely to have to deal with that in your entire career.

    The baby doesn’t breathe with its neck or lungs until it is fully born–it breathes through it’s umbilicus (belly button) until it’s in the outside world. Mother Nature insures that the blood flow will be unimpeded by surrounding the 3 blood vessels in the umbilical cord with a substance called Wharton’s Jelly. It’s really a beautiful design for survival. The placenta comes naturally out of the woman’s vagina in about 30 minutes. It’s hurrying it up and trying to get it out “shortly after the birth” which CAUSES the mother to bleed. The mother’s body is a good radiant heater for the baby, you’re absolutely right, but the baby does the mother a big favour with that skin contact by stimulating a flood of natural oxytocin hormone through her body which keeps her uterus well contracted.

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  6. Oh, don’t you love that is was “lucky” he had the equipment to allow him to unwrap the cord from around the neck…. most of us aren’t blessed to have a paramedicas kit which includes HANDS!!!
    I hate these stories with a vengance because the implication is always that the mother would have been safer if she had got to the hospital… surely giving birth at home would be safer than in a car on a roadside? I say this to clients quite often and they always look a bit stunned mullet at first!

  7. It would be great if there was a common theme which could be established which allowed these women to birth so easily so it could be applied widely to others. It seems as if freedom of movement plays a huge part in it.

  8. That’s a very good point, MargeC. What comes to mind for me is the fact that some women seem to ignore all signs that they are having a baby for a very long time. In the matter of giving birth, denial seems to be a plus.

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