June 30, 2016

choosing a birth place

Like with our first three kids, James left choosing the birth-place of our fourth child ultimately up to me. I personally didn't want to go anywhere. If I could have given birth in the moss-covered forests of Navarino, I would have. 

James and I joked about hiding out in the woods until the baby came. We figured if the indigineous tribe of Yaghans had pro-created and survived winters on the island practically half-naked, then we could too in autumn with all our high-tech clothing and camping gear. 

We wondered what, if anything, they would do to us if we didn't leave the island on the required control date?

The majority of women living in the Magallanes region gave birth in Punta Arenas. We did not want to live in the city with the kids, and found it difficult to avoid getting in buses, taxis, and cars in PA. 

James and I thought the towns of  Porvenir and Puerto Natales could be two good small town options for us.

I asked my friends (& local island doctors) Carolina Zolezzi and Victor Guerrero what they personally thought and recommended. They said Punta Arenas had the most comprehensive hospital facilities, equipment, pool of doctors and anesthesiologists. They told me that it was not possible to give birth in Porvenir, but that it definitely was in Natales.

Since I already had three natural births without complications, they thought it was likely the fourth would be similar. C-sections were possible in Natales, but they warned me that a pre-mature birth or any serious complication would require getting transferred to Punta Arenas - which was a 3 hour drive away.

James and I spent time on and off in Natales over the past seven years and had built friendships with the community of climbers and locals living there. We imagined that we could be there without a vehicle and get around easily, living a pedestrian lifestyle.

Canal Señoret, Puerto Natales - Provincia de Última Esperanza, Region XII CHILE (octubre de 2015)

To be 100% certain, during a visit to Natales in October (while road tripping with film-maker Sam Greenfield), I dropped into the Augusto Essman Hospital. I asked for a tour of the maternity wing and met one of the midwives on duty - Camila Perez. She was young, fit, and spoke perfect English. She told me that there were two obstetricians, two anesthesiologists, and four midwives on their staff. A new hospital was under construction but would not be completed for another year. She said the biggest issue they were dealing with was lack of space.

The building was old, but clean, and in the maternity wing there were no private rooms. The pre-delivery/labor room had two beds and the recovery room had 8 beds. I could not walk in and see the delivery room or operating theatre without scheduling an appointment.

Tormentina at age 2 had been present in the delivery room for Raivo's birth in the hospital with Dr. Doug George in Jackson, Wyoming. When I was pregnant with Pearl, she watched all kinds of birthing videos on YouTube, and had it all planned out for me. We were going to have a water birth, with dolphins swimming in the pool, her swimming alongside, and we woud name the baby "Flower Rose."

Nothing quite that Hollywood happened for Tormentina, but she did get to have a magic experience as a 5-year-old. She assisted my midwives (Tina Patrick and Justine Small) with the home birth of Pearl at Tina's house in Auckland.

Raivo (at age 2) wanted nothing to do with the birth, blood, or hearing me grunting or screaming so he dragged James into a bedroom two doors down in the house to wait. As a result, Tormentina was the first person in the family to see & hold Pearl and she even got to cut the umbilical cord.

Camila told me that unfortunately in Chile, they were very conservative and only one person could accompany me into the delivery room. No children under age 12 were even allowed in the maternity wing.

I told Camila I was concerned about the high rate of caesarians in Chile and asked if I gave birth there in Natales, would I have any issues with trying to have a completely natural birth?

She assured me that yes it was possible and that there had been plenty of women who had done this. She said she personally hoped that Chile would move toward a more relaxed attitude toward midwifery, but for now, the country leaned toward the safer, more conservative side.

I was nervous about giving birth in a foreign language and sad about the kids not being able to participate, but I knew that the biggest priority was having a safe delivery.

The most important thing was that I had a good feeling from Camila and the hospital. I left feeling comfortable going there for the birth, and felt that it was possible to have a natural experience like I had with my previous three children.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Somira and James, in Germany meanwhile 25 % of all birth´s are by C-sections. Of course not 25 % of the German women are handicapped or their babies ill. There are esp. economic reasons for this often C-sections. A natural birth lasts many hours, maybe some days. A C-section you can plan; and execute as routine operation. – Are there medical reasons for C-section? Of course, e. g. transverse presentation. But this is very rarely found. – Meanwhile Nr. 4 must be there. Best wishes to you all! Georg