Author of fascinating read 'Birth: A History' shares her tales of extreme birth stories from around the globe.
For most of us, other women's birth stories, even if they are run of the mill, are enthralling. We want to know: How long did you push? Did you have any pain relief? Did you tear? Did you swear at your husband?
In the years since I began researching my just-published book, Birth: A History, I've heard a lifetime of interesting tales, and I'm sharing a few of the more extreme ones with you today.
- In 2003, on a Boston-bound subway car during the morning rush, a woman clutching a handrail quietly delivered a baby, who flopped to the floor and slid between the feet of horrified commuters. The mother gazed out of the window and politely refused assistance. When she got off at the next stop, the afterbirth fell out onto the platform. She stuffed the placenta in her shoulder bag and carried on with the baby.
- In 2002, a 40-year-old Mexican woman, in her remote dirt-floor home, went into labor with her ninth child. Having lost one baby in childbirth before, she realized the situation was going awry. So she drank three glasses of liquor and gave herself a crude cesarean section using a kitchen knife, opening her abdomen in three attempts, and delivering a healthy boy who breathed right away. A local nurse, fetched by the newborn's sibling, arrived to stitch the wound before the mother was taken to a hospital eight hours away in Oaxaca. The surgery is recorded in medical journals as the first time a mother and child survived a self-administered C-section.
While both of the above births were unassisted, they were also probably unexpectedly so. Yet for some women, having an unassisted birth is the ideal.
Written by Tina Cassidy
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