Homebirth Midwife Handles A Life Threatening Emergency Like A Boss

Homebirth Midwife Handles A Life Threatening Emergency Like A Boss

For some reason, a persistent myth suggests homebirth midwives are under-educated.

It implies they are somehow not quite as qualified as other birth attendants.

The facts, however, are quite different: midwives are amazingly skilled and highly educated healthcare professionals.

They’re trained to work under pressure and to act quickly on their feet.

Recently, a homebirth midwife from New Zealand showed us just how skilled midwives really are. Sarah Glass saved her boyfriend’s life during an unexpected life-threatening emergency.

Homebirth Midwife Handles Life Threatening Emergency Like A Boss

Her boyfriend, Isak Bester, started to choke on a piece of steak during a backyard barbecue.

Glass quickly began to administer CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when it was clear the steak wasn’t budging.

However, after a few minutes, his colour began to change and Glass knew he wasn’t getting adequate oxygen.

What she did next unquestionably saved his life.

Midwife Performs Tracheotomy With Stanley Blade Knife

“After about eight minutes we were no longer getting air into him. The piece of steak had moved, so he was now turning a very nasty shade of purple and he was dying in front of us”, Glass said.

Thinking quickly, she asked if anyone had a sharp object, saying, “I can’t get air in him – I’m going to have to cut him”.

Someone handed her a Stanley blade knife and she proceeded to perform a tracheotomy. She also used the syringe and oxygen from her home birth supply kit.

Before long, she saw an improvement in Bester’s colour.

Her quick action had clearly saved his life. The paramedics arrived after 20 minutes, and about 30 minutes after he began choking, Bester was airlifted to the hospital.

He spent seven days in the hospital and, upon release, was on the way to a full recovery, thanks to Glass.

Research Shows Midwives And Nurses Provide Exceptional Care

Performing tracheotomies isn’t in a midwife’s typical job description. However, homebirth midwives are well trained medical professionals.

Birth typically unfolds well and isn’t always a medical event. But there are times when birth deviates from normal. In those circumstances, homebirth midwives possess the skills to provide stabilising and even lifesaving medical care.

In this case, Glass was able to use her medical training to save her boyfriend’s life when typical first aid wasn’t enough.

While certain myths still exist regarding midwifery care, research shows nurses and midwives possess the skills to provide care equal to and even better than that offered by physicians, in certain circumstances.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report found midwives and nurses:

  • Receive high quality and focused education
  • Are essential in filling the gaps in available healthcare
  • Often provide the safest option, in terms of birth, for low and moderate risk pregnancies.

You can read more about the WHO report in the BellyBelly article Midwives And Nurses Can Provide Equal Or Better Care Than Physicians – WHO Report.

The quick actions of Glass, combined with her medical training, were essential to saving Bester’s life. Although this wasn’t her typical work, she definitely highlighted the skills midwives possess.

In fact, as a midwife in New Zealand, Glass is part of one of the top maternity care systems in the developed world.

BellyBelly contributor, doula and childbirth educator, Sam McCulloch wrote:

“There is a high demand for midwives as LMCs [Lead Maternity Care], demonstrating that women prefer the midwifery led model of care, which views pregnancy and birth as normal life events.

“Research has proved, time and again, that a normal, undisturbed birth provides the healthiest beginning for mothers, babies and their families.

“Midwifery led care is associated with higher normal birth rates and lower intervention rates and, at the same time, provides safe woman-centred care”.

You can read more in the BellyBelly article Why We’re Jealous Of New Zealand’s Maternity Care System.

But what happens if birth unfolds unexpectedly? Well, Glass clearly showed trained midwives have the proper skills to keep everyone safe.

While giving birth, I can’t imagine being in better hands than those of a provider who possesses skills like Glass’ and also totally understands normal physiological birth.

We hope Glass’s story will further emphasise the truth: that midwives are an excellent part of our healthcare systems.

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Maria Pyanov CPD, CCE CONTRIBUTOR

Maria Silver Pyanov is a mama of four energetic boys and one unique little girl. She is also a doula and childbirth educator. She's an advocate for birth options, and adequate prenatal care and support. She believes in the importance of rebuilding the village so no parent feels unsupported.


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