A young mother-of-two has shared a candid picture of herself cradling her newborn son just moments after giving birth to him on the bathroom floor.
Vanessa Jeffery, from Brisbane, delivered her baby boy Nathaniel at 1.10am on Saturday, June 27 in an unplanned birth at home.
The 32-year-old teacher had planned a vaginal birth in hospital after delivering her firstborn via C-section with the support of her doula Selena Rollason.
But after enduring hours of labour with mild contractions, little Nathaniel couldn’t wait any longer and arrived unexpectedly into the hands of the doula – as his doting father Chris rushed to get towels.
‘While I was labouring quite calmly, Selena and my husband were getting things ready to move to hospital but when they came to get me, I realised the baby was making a much quicker entrance into the world,’ Vanessa told Daily Mail Australia.
‘He ended up being born in the bathroom. That’s where I had been the most comfortable in the last stages of labour.’
Mother-of-two Vanessa Jeffery pictured cradling her newborn son Nathaniel just moments after giving birth to him on the bathroom floor
The 32-year-old teacher was taken to hospital by a paramedic after she delivered her son unexpectedly at home (pictured on a stretcher, next to her husband Chris with their newborn)
Vanessa and newborn son Nathaniel were taken to the hospital for a check-up overnight
‘I was always planning a VBAC [vaginal birth after Caesaraen] for my birth with this baby and I had planned to labour at home, however giving birth at home was not part of the plan. He just came much more quickly than any of us expected.’
Before the dramatic birth, Vanessa was experiencing ‘inconsistent’ contractions.
‘I had been in early labour with mild contractions most of Friday. I had been checking in with Selena regularly during the day as I had hired her as my doula,’ she said.
‘As things intensified later in the evening Selena came over to be a more active support person.’
Had we of moved her 20 minutes earlier there is no question about it, she would have delivered the baby in the car.
The contractions were slowly building for hours but the plan for the expectant mother was to labour at home until she felt ready to head to the hospital.
But things quickly took a surprising turn when her baby’s head was coming out despite her waters never breaking until the delivery.
‘At first it was pure disbelief. I thought I still had hours of active labour to get through,’ Vanessa said.
The mother yelled out from the bathroom: ‘Selena I think my water sac is coming out’, and as the doula rushed over, she could see the boy’s head being born, ‘still fully encased in the membranes and waters’.
Her husband Chris returned with the towels, and placed them beneath Vanessa, and within minutes, she delivered her baby safely into the doula’s hands.
Selena handed Nathaniel into the waiting arms of his mum where he ‘cried straight away’ – as the paramedics were called to the home post-birth as a precaution.
Selena handed Nathaniel into the waiting arms of his mum where he ‘cried straight away’
Hello! Baby Nathaniel couldn’t wait any longer and arrived unexpectedly at his family home
The paramedics were called to the home post-birth as a precaution as the mother and newborn son were taken to hospital for a check-up
‘My mind was very quiet when I got to hold my baby for the first time. It was much more emotional and instinctual than I could have imagined,’ Vanessa said.
‘Once he was in my arms, I felt that instantaneous bond and love for my baby with a huge sense of accomplishment with what we had achieved.
‘The hospital system makes you fight every inch of the way to be able to birth the way our bodies are made to, especially after a cesarean section. This is my little piece of proof that women’s bodies are amazing.
‘It was the most calm beautiful birth and that’s what I was aiming for and why I had asked Selena to be my doula as she helped me achieve that.’
The mother and newborn were taken to the hospital for a check-up overnight – and the family were home and settled within 24 hours.
Selena, who’s a birth photographer, quickly captured the beautiful moment on camera showing the mother looking overjoyed as she held her newborn just moments after birth.
‘I still can’t quite believe how it all unfolded,’ Vanessa said.
‘I’m immensely proud of all of us. I’ll cherish that photo and that memory for the rest of my life. I’m so grateful to have had Selena there.’
The 32-year-old smiling with her adorable baby in her arms after his unplanned home birth
Happy family! Husband Chris and wife Vanessa creating beautiful memories with Nathaniel
Selena, a certified doula and a VBAC mother, said when she was observing the pregnant mother at home, she noticed the common signs of imminent birth had not yet presented.
‘Her waters had not ruptured and behaviourally (and physically), she wasn’t showing many of the normal signs that come with being close to delivering the baby,’ Selena told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I gave her the option at the time to head to the hospital or stay at home and wait it out. She chose to stay home and wait it out. And to be honest, it’s a good thing she did. Within 20 minutes of that discussion, she was giving birth.
‘Had we of moved her 20 minutes earlier there is no question about it, she would have delivered the baby in the car, in what would have been so much more of a stressful and unmanaged situation.
After the mother delivered her baby ‘perfectly’, Selena captured the raw moment.
‘To be honest, I don’t even remember what it was like capturing this moment on camera because I was so blown away with being the one to deliver the baby. It all happened so fast and it was a few minutes – and a washing of the arms – before I even thought to take a photo.’ she said.
‘For me though, capturing this moment wasn’t even the best part. The best part was actually catching the baby in my own hands as Vanessa delivered him on the bathroom floor. Nathaniel was born fully in the sac, which ruptured on delivery.’
Doula and birth photographer Selena Rollason pictured with baby boy Nathaniel after she helped his mother Vanessa deliver him in an unplanned birth at home
During the delivery, the quick-thinking doula sprung into action.
‘I was completely calm. At no point did I feel scared or anxious, instinct and experience kicked in and I just instinctively knew what to do. There was no time to even ring paramedics, baby was coming and coming fast,’ Selena said.
‘I feel proud of Vanessa for trusting her body and happy for her to have had such a wonderful outcome. This image will always be very special to me and a reminder of the strength and courage that women have during birth. It will forever be a reminder that we are the own authors of our stories.’
After sharing her powerful picture on her Brisbane Birth Photography Facebook page, she was met with a ‘fabulous’ and ‘wonderful’ response.
‘There is always the risk that people will judge because they don’t understand the full story, and it is extremely upsetting for everyone when they do that,’ she said.
‘But in this case it was a fabulous response. It is such a heartwarming story to share amongst all the challenges in the world right now so people jumped on the beauty and positivity of this moment.’
Selena said as she laughed: ‘As a doula I do not wish to make a habit of catching babies unexpectedly at home, I’d rather leave that to the midwives.’
What’s a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC)?
If you’ve delivered a baby by a C-section, you may have a choice with your next pregnancy – a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) or a planned (elective) caesarean.
The chances of having a successful VBAC are higher if you and your baby are in good health and your pregnancy is progressing normally.
The decision to have a VBAC is a personal one but it should be based on careful and thorough medical advice.
Some benefits of vaginal births – including VBACs – are:
- a lower risk of some complications such as infections
- a shorter recovery time and hospital stay
- a higher likelihood that you can feed and cuddle your baby straight after birth
- a lower risk of complications during future pregnancies
- less abdominal pain after birth
- that you are more physically able to care for your baby (and any other children you may have) soon after delivery, allowing for quicker bonding
- babies born vaginally have a lower risk of respiratory problems
The risk of the scar in your womb and abdomen tearing during labour is very low, but this is the main reason doctors and midwives closely monitor VBACs in a properly equipped hospital because it can result in serious problems for the baby and for the mother.
Source: Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, which is funded by the Australian Department of Health