Surprise! Baby born at campground.

The FDL Reporter carried the same story over two consecutive weekends (July 20, 2008 and July 27, 2008): A woman who didn't even know she was pregnant gave birth while camping.

The short version is she didn't know she was pregnant. While camping, she experiences some funky stomach cramps and her boyfriend goes to get her some OTC medication to make her feel better. She goes into the camp bathroom and births an 8 lb. baby girl. The screams of the mother and boyfriend bring a nurse running, and according the nurse, she saves the baby's life because the baby wasn't breathing and the nurse, "...doubts the baby would've survived until an ambulance arrived."

This is an 8 lb. baby later pronounced healthy.

Healthy babies have an instinct to breathe. A natural birth stimulates the baby to breathe. Babies delivered surgically sometimes don't breathe on their own. Babies born with narcotics in their system sometimes don't breathe on their own. Babies coming from a uterine environment that has been hyper-stimulated by pitocin may have experienced distress (like cord compression), meaning they may need help to begin breathing. Premature babies may not be able to breathe right away. Babies sick with RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome) may have breathing difficulties at birth. Babies who have been through a long hard labor due to malpositioning or something may be slow to start.

Healthy babies who are still attached to a pulsating cord may take their time in initiating breathing because they are still getting oxygen from the placenta and cord. Sometimes people who are not familiar with natural birth assume a baby isn't breathing because she isn't crying, which isn't always true. (And people assume that because a nurse knows how a healthy, undrugged newborn looks and acts, but this nurse was a geriactric nurse. She provides nursing for the elderly. And even if she was a neonatal nurse, I just had a client who had a HypnoBirthing(R) at an area hospital and the nurse commented afterwards at how inspiring and unusual it was, because in 4 years of maternal nursing, she'd not seen even ONE natural birth; not ONE baby born unaffected by some sort of drug.) Sometimes they are just acclimating slowly and looking around, but they have a strong heartbeat and they are indeed breathing. Even if they aren't, if a mother were to pick up the baby and hold and talk to the baby, they would cough and sputter and begin breathing.

Babies who essentially fall out after an essentially painless labor? It's unlikely she 'wouldn't have made it'. However, it is too bad the mother didn't know what to do. As I've said before, I think it's crazy that women don't have a clue how to follow their own instincts in the event of a quick and easy birth because they've just expected someone else to do everything for them.

Now, in this case, the woman says she didn't know she had a wiggling 8 lb. baby and, oh, probably as least 10 lb. of water and placenta inside her. I don't understand that, but others have claimed it, so I take her at her word. However, I find it very interesting that she gave birth quickly and easily to a healthy 8 lb. baby and she said if she had known she was pregnant she would have gotten 'proper care'. Interesting because there is the assumption, like the assumption that birth is dangerous and painful, that seeing an OB 14 times per pregnancy means better babies. According to the American College of Physicians, that's not true. Lots of visits and lots of tests does not translate to better outcomes for mothers or babies.

Ultimately though, the reason I wanted to blog about this birth is that the mother is quoted as saying that her friends are jealous that she didn't have to feel "that pain". This is a perfect example of how, if a mother doesn't know she is "supposed" to feel pain, she doesn't. She wasn't afraid because she didn't know she was in labor, so she considered her 'cramps' only worthy of an over the counter remedy. I couldn't think of a better illustration of how many ways we CREATE pain in labor from our expectations and fear of a perfectly natural physiological process.


::::wifemothermaniac:::: said...

Thank goodness it wasn't an outhouse bathroom, like many campground ones are!

Anonymous said...

Neither of my babies breathed right at first. It seemed like an eternity until my first (water-born) baby breathed, even though the midwife had told me during a prenatal that most water-born babies don't breathe right away -- of course, the umbilical cord was still functioning full-blast, not having been exposed to air. With my second (land-born), he didn't cry, but he did breathe. My mother was flipping out, "WHY ISN'T HE CRYING?!?!?" To which I calmly replied, "Because there's nothing wrong with him!"


Mamaperreca said...

I totally agree with your views on how we fear and therefore create some of our own pain during birth. I am due in 3 weeks and will be doing Hypnobirthing for the second time.