A Perth dad saves himself a trip to the hospital by delivering his son on his bathroom floor.
When Jamie Noble’s wife woke him at midnight to tell him she was in labour, his reaction was fairly typical of a harried, second-time-round Dad: “Oh my God, I haven’t put the child seat in the car yet!”
In the next 42 short minutes he would manage to fit the seat backwards (correctly), in the dark, swearing repeatedly, and, more impressively, to deliver his new son, Charlie, on his bathroom floor.
It was a hell of an evening for Perth’s Jamie, 28, but, to be fair, probably even more dramatic for wife, Fleur, 30. And for baby Charlie.
“When she first woke me I was in a daze, and I remember thinking, right, our first child took about 12 hours from this point, it’s going to be a long night,” Jamie recalls.
“We called the midwife, she said everything sounded fine and to time the contractions, and call her in a couple of hours.
“I went outside to put the car seat in and I could hear my wife getting louder and louder.
“When I walked back in, Fleur was standing in the shower ready to go. I barely had time to grab the phone when Fleur was like, ‘Oh shit, here comes the head’. She grabbed his head and I caught his legs and torso, and that was it, he was born right there on the floor. Amazing.”
At this point Fleur wrapped the baby in a towel and sat on the toilet, while Jamie got the midwife on the phone. She asked how things were progressing and Jamie had to advise her that things had progressed pretty bloody quickly indeed.
“She yelled at me to stop talking to her and call an ambulance.
By that stage the placenta had fallen into the toilet and Jamie had begun to fish it out, with wife Fleur insisting “we need that!”
Within moments the ambulance arrived.
“The ambulance officers were quite young and I don’t think they’d seen many like this because one guy asked if he could take a photo to send to his wife (‘she’s not going to believe this’), and the other one was having a very good look at the placenta. But then they clamped the cord and let me cut it.
“I was still in shock, and my wife was on the floor, covered in towels and feeding bub.”
With Fleur’s incredible 42-minute labour, Jamie didn’t have time to prepare, react or panic.
“As soon as I saw the head I realised there was no turning around, no going to hospital. But being the second time around, I think we knew what to look for. Was he a good colour, was he breathing, and crying?
“It was certainly a spin-out. Afterwards, I did think it was a pretty amazing thing to be able to say you’d delivered your own son.”
Bubs who can’t wait to see the world
About four in 1000 births in Australia are unplanned, out-of-hospital deliveries, according to a recent study.
Women who are expecting their second child are most likely to be caught off guard, says the study’s co-author, Associate Professor Charlene Thornton of Flinders University.
A lot of second-time parents assume that because their first labour took a long time, it will take just as long the next time around. In fact it’s more likely to be the opposite.
The study also found babies who don’t make it to the delivery room are more likely to be premature and have a smaller birth weight. They are also more likely to be female.
This is because female babies tend to be slightly smaller and more likely to get themselves into better positions to be born. Typical women, always so organised.
While the figures also show these babies are more likely to be admitted to a special care nursery or neonatal intensive care unit, Associate Professor Thornton says that parents really shouldn’t be alarmed as most births turn out well.
Perth obstetrician Dr Chris Gunnell says that if the labour is moving fast, it’s usually a good sign.
“It’s almost unheard of for births to happen that fast the first time around, so at least parents who face this have some experience,” he says.
“But it is more common the second time around, and the more babies you have, the more efficient a woman’s uterus becomes at giving birth.
“This one really was very fast, and it is unusual to go that quickly, because women tend to be very good at being in tune with their bodies, and it’s a very strong instinct women have to get to hospital.”
What dads should do
If this happens to you, Dr Gunnell has some simple advice.
“Firstly, don’t panic, that’s the main thing because if the labour is going that fast, usually it’s a sign that everything is going to go well,” he says.
“Secondly, do call for help, because you want someone to be on their way, even if things do go well.
“And the other big thing is just to make sure that the baby is kept warm and dry. Dry it off once it’s born. You really don’t want a baby to stay wet and cold, because that can cause problems.”
Professor Thornton recommends you immediately place the naked baby against the mother’s chest then place a warm blanket or towel over them.
“Don’t worry about cutting the umbilical cord; it’s more important to stay calm,” she said.
“Remember that the most critical problem is that BBA babies arrive at the hospital cold, so keeping them warm is critical.”
The final word? Jamie Noble’s only advice to any other dad who goes through something similar? “Make sure you’ve got your car seat installed, nice and early.”