“As a medical professional, I’ve always known that I wanted the most natural form of birth for my children. For my firstborn, Keshav, who is now almost 7, I had an un-medicated water birth in the hospital with a doula’s assistance.
Two years later, when I fell pregnant with Nikhita, I started entertaining thoughts about having a home birth. I knew that when a woman is allowed to move freely while in labour ― as opposed to being in a lying position ― and in her comfort zone, such as her home, labour tends to be faster and less complicated.
However, at that time I felt I was not ready yet for a home birth. When Nikhita and Keshav were 2 and 4 years old, I fell pregnant again. This time, I decided early on in my pregnancy that I would have a home birth.
When I spoke to my gynae, Dr Lai Fon-Min, about it, he was very supportive. My gynae, who runs his own practice at A Company For Women, is the only doctor in Singapore who does home births.
Although I was aware of the medical benefits, the more important reason why I wanted to give birth at home was that I wanted to share the experience with my family.
“Although I was aware of the medical benefits, the more important reason why I wanted to give birth at home was that I wanted to share the experience with my family.”
Imagine how thrilling it would be for my husband and kids to have such an intimate involvement in my labour and birth! My brother, who lives in Melbourne, would fly down just for the birth and my mum, a trained midwife, was more than supportive of my decision.
My pregnancy progressed well. When I was in my 28th week, Dr Lai gave me the all clear to proceed with planning my home birth.
Then, it was time to get my birth crew in place. My six-man team included my hubby Viknesh, my doula Ginny Phang from Four Trimesters, her assistant, my gynae, a birth photographer and my mum.
I also needed to make sure I had the right gear. We had to rent a water tub, which I would use to give birth in and an oxygen tank, in case we needed to resuscitate the baby.
Getting the kiddos prepared was the next step. I spoke to them at great length and over a period of time on what was going to happen during the birth. We also read children’s books that talked about home births and welcoming a new sibling, such as Hello Baby; Mummy Mummy What’s in Your Tummy?; and My New Baby.
Keshav digested the news very well, while Nikhita worried that I would have to endure a lot of pain and ultimately bleed to death. I assured her that nothing of that sort would happen and I would have a lot of help in the form of my doula, gynae and her daddy, who would take good care of me.
30 December 2014 ― the day my boy would enter the world ― started off like any other day. I woke up and made pancakes for Keshav and Nikhita, but in the middle of breakfast, I felt intense stomach cramps. I went to the loo to relieve myself, but the cramps continued even after that. I realised I was going into labour. It was time!
What happened next? Read on to find out!
Since it was my third birth, it was most probably going to be a short labour, so we didn’t have much time to get everything in order.
Viknesh called everyone to summon them to our home. We then explained to the kiddos that their little sibling was on his way.
We had to convert our living room into a make-shift birth centre. We switched on the air-con, covered our white sofa with plastic sheets and Viknesh got busy inflating the tub. By then, my doula had arrived with her assistant.
Since my contractions were in full swing, Ginny was by my side coaching me with my breathing and keeping me comfortable and relaxed. Her assistant helped Viknesh fill the tub with warm water.
My mum and brother had also arrived by then. Because I was at home, I was able to move around as much as I wanted, which helped me handle my contractions better.
“A home birth can change your life and offers several benefits for both mum and baby, but before you decide to do one, make sure you are psychologically ready for it.”
I went into labour at 8.30am and by the time Dr Lai walked in at 10am, I was ready to give birth. I got into the tub as Ginny stuck the top half of an L-shaped mirror under the water, so that she could see the baby as he made his way out.
After a few pushes, my little boy Shyam was born. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck as he came out, but we quickly untangled him from it.
The people in the room were filled with a range of emotions. The kids had never witnessed anything like that before, so their eyes were wide open with excitement. Viknesh, who was literally supporting me throughout the entire birth, was overwhelmed with happiness, and probably felt a little tired as well!
I looked up to see my mum and brother tearing. As I cuddled my new bundle of joy I felt raw, yet complete and a sense of intense joy.
A home birth can change your life and offers several benefits for both mum and baby. But before you decide to do one, make sure you are psychologically ready for it. Above all, make sure you have a supportive husband.
Admittedly, choosing to give birth at home can be a little daunting when it’s your first child, but it’s an easier decision to make for subsequent births as you become more confident. Also, engage a good doula who can act as a channel between you and your doctor.
And prepare yourself by watching birth videos and listening to hypnobirthing CDs which will teach you deep relaxation, visualisation and gentle breathing techniques. These tools will help you let go of tension and pain and experience labour and birth in a calm and gentle way.”
Mythili Pandi, 35, a doctor, is mum to Shyam, 2, Nikhita, 4, and Keshav, 6.
Photos: Keidi Lin/The Unison Photo
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