Friday, November 18, 2011

Give the gift of life after birth

I promise this won’t get ugly, but if you’re squeamish about babies and birth you may want to skip today’s post altogether.

My experience with childbirth was traumatic to say the least. After a very cruisey pregnancy, I had visions of a natural birth, to the sounds of Bon Iver, as my husband and sister wiped my brow and fed me ice chips. ‘Millions of women have done it before’ everyone assured me, from family, to my Ante Natal teacher, to the checkout operator at New World. ‘Childbirth is a beautiful, natural thing. Just let your body take over; it will know what to do.’

The reality was quite different. My waters broke a week early and showed signs of meconium which meant the baby was potentially in distress. Induction brought on labour quickly and violently, my subsequent epidural fell out (unnoticed), and after two hours of agonising pushing I was raced into theatre for an emergency caesarean that, in the words of my midwife, saved both me and my daughter. It was weeks before I could even think about the whole experience without crying. Over a year later, the memory is just hazy enough to contemplate doing it all again (before you get excited – no, that’s not an announcement, sorry!) and this time around, I have a new appreciation for the medical professionals that take care of us when we need them. At the time when I was the most frightened I have ever been, they reassured me and cared for me, and I owe them my life.

When I read about Oxfam Unwrapped and their wonderful gifts, the one that really stood out was the option to ‘Train a village birth attendant’ in Papua New Guinea. So often these women give birth at home, with no medical assistance, and the risk to both mother and child is high. A $40 donation will help train locals, giving them basic midwifery skills and a ‘Safe Birth Kit’ so that mothers are given the best possible medical help before, during and after childbirth. At a time of year that celebrates the birth of baby Jesus, I can’t think of a better gift for the person who already has everything.


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