The unspoken plan B Walking down the corridors of the “unknown” with Doula Naomie

What if the baby dies or the scans didn’t catch it all and the baby is born with a hefty diagnosis? How would you cope and would you know what resources are available to you?

I have walked down hospital corridors many times. Sometime it was because a client was going to meet their little wonder, other times because something was going to be fixed, sometimes that something may be found following an investigation, for tests, and once following a heavy diagnosis with my son. A day I will never forget.

Hospital bag and breastfeeding necessities packed as you embrace motherhood

The walk down this route is not all positive be it one way or the complete return journey. Not always, and that is the honest truth. When we “prepare” couples for the births of their babies not many educators, midwives or doulas mention that the returning route might be different. If you didn’t know, the way back may torment you for the rest of your life and if you knew then that would be the moment that you curse ever walking those corridors to find out

On this cloudy, wet and stormy Sunday afternoon, I walked into the hospital to share a moment with a bereaved couple. A couple I had supported for weeks for the birth of their little rainbow. Unfortunately she was too precious to stay

I walked to meet with them following a phone call I received from the mother-to-be one evening with the sad news that the baby’s heartbeat had suddenly stopped beating. She had less movement that particular day and had had signs of labor for days. Contractions on and off, we were all excited the “process” was beginning by itself. How then did that take a different turn to the news I received? What changed and why?! I had so many questions as I am sure did the parents and no answers until baby is born and further investigations are done.

Absolutely heartbreaking

It is still very much the norm that couples are prepared for “the happy ending.” Positive births. Not many birth workers actually talk about the other side of labor with their clients. I am guilty of that myself to an extend only because of the notion that, it is not information that needs to be shared or spoken about when couples are excited and looking forward to a positive natural birth. I mention it because I have coached and supported both sides.

I have coached and supported couples who have had their happy endings, beautiful water births and unfortunately Others who didn’t.

Infact one couples birth was disappointing to say the least and I felt like I failed them even though I know deep down that I became a subject of the protocols and couldn’t intervene on their behalves. I have coached couples who have gone to birth their stillborn babies and others living with disabled babies with no real diagnosis to date. The reality of life

Nobody mentions in reality and in detail; the long labors, the tearings and pee leaking that could happen after birth. The incidents that are preventable and those that are not. The birth plans that are ignored when you are checked in etc

What if something happens between one day to another? And what if the baby dies before he/she is born? Let’s say prenatal scans didn’t catch it all and the baby is born with a hefty diagnosis, parents only finding out on the day of the birth?

In hypnobirthing we focus on positivity. Self hypnosis techniques to keep the mind calm with positivity. Visualization and MP3 tracks talk about the women “imagining” being in the happy land where everything is beautiful, sprayed with golden air, everything calm and positive. What about those who have done the imagination, visualization, positive thinking and drafted their birth plans who then go on to have traumatic births, difficult long births or a loss at term?

Not ALL mothers embrace their babies in oxytocin-high crying “oh my baby”. And that is FACT

I am sure as parents-to-be, we have walked down these corridors in excitement. Kitted with our birth plans (plan A) with everything how we have visualized it to be, everything how we want to unfold and with plans for when you return home which is very ok until the strike hits and we find that not only were we not prepared, we didn’t plan for this (plan B). It was never spoken about. The focus was on keeping negativity and negative energy at bay. The focus was on the “right” breathing techniques as if you would do anything else that day!. The focus was on the empowerment for a positive, natural birth which in reality isn’t the case for many and not always. Not ALL mothers embrace their babies in oxytocin-high crying “oh my baby”.

And that is FACT

One person’s experience cannot be another’s.

So what happens when the opposite happens and who do people talk to? What needs to be arranged and by who? Luckily in many hospitals in Europe support within the hospital is available and outside sources too. From photographers to help keep memories to counseling within the hospital itself. The attending medical team will arrange what needs arranging for you. Be sure to seek the support of a bereavement doula as well for that specialized support to help you remember all the little things you may forget easily.

And because I believe it does matter, I will make sure to cover even the topics that are daunting because I believe that one can have the right birth on the day even if it wasn’t the birth they hoped for

I think prebirth education should include the inevitable. We should rise from this hush hush mentality that if it is spoken about “earlier” it may jinx everything. That is an African mentality, I know it too well. “Let’s not talk about it because then it won’t happen”. But what about when it does?

Created By
Naomie Karemi


In Loving Memory of Baby Adèle. Born sleeping at LUMC Leiden, May 2018