This was my FIRST time doula-ing at Pantai Cheras. The hospital just began to offer waterbirths a couple of months ago. And this was the first time their delivery suite ever had an official doula present at a birth! So I was excited, but wasn't exactly sure what to expect – especially from the staff. I had heard the waterbirth room was small... but really mothers have birthed in small buckets before..lol..so I wasn’t too concerned about that.
The mother was doing beautifully all throughout her labour and went to hospital only when it got really intense. So when we arrived at the hospital she was already in her ZONE - quiet, focusing inwards.
The environment in the delivery suite was rather busy and noisy - staff talking on the phone and to each other, rushing in and out of rooms. Just outside the waterbirthing room was a desk with a phone, so everytime the phone rang, we could hear it. The door to the room was a glass foldable door and not sound proof, so if it wasn't completely closed, we could hear the sounds of the nurses talking outside.
There was a flurry of activity as the mother entered the birthing room and tried to settle in. The pool was about a third way filled, but mom couldn't wait and immediately got in. There were a number of nurses entering and leaving the room trying to fill up the pool and get the water to be the right temperature. To do this they had to drain some cool water out of the pool using a pump and fill it with hot water which they had to get from a thermopot outside of the room (in addition to hot water from a hose attached to the waterheater). So there were staff going in and out of the room frequently. The pool is a LaBassine pool, so it took some time to fill.
The nurses were trying to get the CTG machine strapped on to mother’s abdomen and at just the right spot to be able to get a good reading. This was a wireless CTG machine - the FIRST ever being used in Malaysia as far as I know. The nurses tried to get mother to lie back, but she couldn't. The only comfortable position for her was leaning forward onto the side of the pool. At one point, there were three nurses hovering around the mother - one trying to drain water from the pool, and another two adjusting the CTG machine on mother's tummy. Mother shifted uncomfortably and was visibly annoyed. I felt slightly helpless at this point - should I say something? I didn't think it was a good idea to say anything just yet because we had just arrived, and I didn't want to turn the staff off working with doulas ever again. Lol. So instead, I focused my efforts on mother and trying to get her into her zone again with massages and hypnosis. I silently prayed that the fuss would soon settle.
After several subtle attempts by me to get the nurses to leave the room and quiet down and close the door, the activity died down and it was quiet at last. Father joined us after some administrative work and the two of us worked to make Mom as comfortable as possible, and protect her space.
Every so often the CTG machine would beep and disturb the silence. I was SO grateful for this GREAT tool that enables mother to move around freely in the tub, but at the same time, I was cursing it under my breath!! I knew though that it was important for the staff to get a good 20-minute strip reading especially with a VBAC Mom, so I just had to bite my lip and hoped Mom could endure the hassle just a little bit longer. It took quite awhile to get it at exactly at the right spot, and even then the reading would only last a few minutes before the trace went off again.
I can't give too much away about the birth story (hope the mother writes her story soon!) but Dr Tan arrived after a few hours. She did one final adjustment to the CTG and it stuck! Hah! (Dr’s touch ;) )
Mom was left alone for a few more hours, and before long, baby finally made her slippery entrance into the pool and was placed onto Mom’s chest. Tears and words of joy all round! Mom was incredulous!
It really was a beautiful birth - the star of the show of course was mother - and I really can't wait for her to write her birth story. But as far as the staff at Pantia Cheras is concerned - they were really great! Two thumbs up for effort – most definitely!! They had never really been exposed to a doula and other requirements of HypnoBirthing mothers apart from taking the lead from Dr Tan (who is a HypnoBirthing Practitioner herself) ..but they had positive attitude about supporting the mother and father, and this speaks volumes.
Pantai Cheras had 6 waterbirths prior to this one, but I was glad and relieved that the staff accepted and acknowledged my presence and my role and were willing to cooperate! Of course things could have been much better with staff being more respectful of the mother's needs for privacy, quiet and getting informed consent before carrying out things like taking her temperature or taking her blood pressure, etc., but this can all be learnt in time.
Dr Tan really has to be given most credit. She really is one of those rare ObGyns who is willing to stick up for what is right, rather than what the system dictates, and because of this many mothers have been able to enjoy undisturbed births in medicalised settings.
I’m excited for mothers who will birth in the future- especially for mothers who will birth in Pantai Cheras. With more training of staff on the needs of HypnoBirthing/ natural birth mothers, I can see much improvement in catering to natural birth mamas.. and who knows, maybe one day Pantai Cheras will be a hub for natural birth mamas to go to. And there are already plans for training in the near future!!
So in short, I HIGHLY recommend considering waterbirth @ Pantai Cheras :)
BUT of course, as with all other hospital births, the mother herself has to be extremely mentally and emotionally prepared. This mother ROCKED her birth and I'm sure many more mothers will in the future inshaallah, with the growing awareness about natural birth.