Pregnant guest has emergency delivery at neighbour’s wedding
Pregnant wedding guest gives birth at home with help of sister-in-law... and paramedic on the phone
In the midst of a Tampines void deck wedding celebration, the blaring sound of an ambulance siren created rumblings of panic and fear over who had taken ill.
A few minutes later, there was a collective sigh of relief as paramedics emerged from one of the blocks, bearing happy news.
They were pushing a stretcher with Madam Suhaidah Mamat, 37, holding a newborn baby boy in her arms.
She was a neighbour of the bride and had earlier attended the wedding with her husband, her sister-in-law and her mother-in-law.
At about 6pm on Dec 19, Madam Suhaidah, who was eight months pregnant, felt contractions and went up to her five-room flat on the fourth storey of Block 367A, Tampines Street 34, to rest.
Her sister-in-law, Madam Rohzanah Ahmad, 46, a housewife, accompanied her.
But the contractions became more painful and that was when she knew it was time.
"I called my husband to get the car so that we could go to the hospital," she said.
But a few minutes later, her water bag burst while she was lying on her bed.
Said Madam Rohzanah: "The entire bedsheet was wet. The water even flowed to the floor, so both Su and I panicked."
Knowing she would have to deliver very soon, Madam Suhaidah lay down, with her knees propped up.
She told her husband, Mr Mohammad Hasli Ahmad, 39, a personal driver, who was still at the void deck, that they would not make it to the hospital in time.
He quickly called for an ambulance and connected the paramedic to his home phone line - and in the nick of time, too.
Said Madam Rohzanah, who has five children: "I was trying to explain the situation to the paramedic when I suddenly saw the baby's head."
Madam Suhaidah, who works in the medical appliance industry, had no experience giving birth at home but realised that it was a "do or die situation".
Her three children, aged five to 10, were delivered naturally.
Madam Rohzanah, who was guided by the paramedic over the phone, said: "I didn't know what to do, but at the same time, I knew I couldn't leave the baby with his head out and the body still inside.
"So I told Su to push. Then, in a blink of an eye, the rest of the body just came out.
"There wasn't much blood and for a few seconds, the baby did not cry. My heart stood still, until I heard his cries.
"He didn't just cry, he even peed on me, but no words can explain our sense of relief."
Madam Suhaidah called it her easiest delivery ever, saying: "It was smooth... and it was really, really fast."
Her three children, who were at home at the time, kept popping in and out of the room to see what was going on.
They ran out of their flat to alert some wedding guests who were standing in the corridor, but nobody took the news seriously, said Madam Suhaidah.
Fortunately, their next-door neighbour, Madam Aminah Ismail, 68, whose daughter was the bride, was on her way back to her flat when she bumped into the children.
The neighbours have been close since Madam Suhaidah's family moved in six years ago.
"At first, I didn't believe it because Su told me that her due date was at the end of the month, but I just wanted to check to confirm," said Madam Aminah.
When she rushed into the room, she saw Madam Rohzanah holding the baby and was at a loss for words.
She helped Madam Rohzanah wrap the baby in a blanket and she calmed Madam Suhaidah by massaging the side of her body.
"I gave birth to all my four children at home so I roughly know what to do after a home delivery," said Madam Aminah.
"Back in the day, we would sew the umbilical cord with a needle and thread, but I didn't dare do it, so we just waited for the paramedics to arrive."
The paramedics arrived 10 minutes later and Madam Suhaidah was transferred to a stretcher.
She said: "By then, my house was swarming with my neighbours and some of the guests from the wedding.
"Thank God, on my way out, I managed to catch a glimpse of the clock so I remembered what time my son was born."
One of the wedding guests phoned Mr Hasli to tell him the good news.
He said he was grateful for all the help his wife had received throughout the delivery.
"If all these superwomen were not there to help Su, I don't know what would have happened," said Mr Hasli.
The New Paper was alerted to the news by Madam Aminah's daughter, Ms Afizah Rahmat, 38, an administrative officer.
When the paramedics emerged at the foot of the block with Madam Suhaidah and her newborn baby on the stretcher, Ms Afizah said the wedding guests all stood up to catch a glimpse of them.
Ms Afizah added: "I wasn't the only one who was shocked - even Su's mother-in-law, who was also at the wedding, didn't know how to react."
Madam Suhaidah and her son were discharged from KK Women's and Children's Hospital last Monday.
Baby Akmal Muaz's entry into the world was a double joy for the two families.
Madam Aminah now frequents Madam Suhaidah's flat to check up on both mother and son.
Madam Suhaidah said: "Since we moved in, we have always felt that they are family."
The older woman added: "I got a new son-in-law and a new 'grandson' on the same day. I felt very lucky."
If all these superwomen were not there to help Su, I don't know what would have happened.
- Madam Suhaidah's husband, Mr Mohammad Hasli Ahmad
The entire bedsheet was wet. The water even flowed to the floor, so both Su (Madam Suhaidah) and I panicked.
- Madam Rohzanah Ahmad on what happened when her sister-in-law's water bag broke.
Complications rare, but can be catastrophic: Doc
Births at home may come with many risks and complications, a gynaecologist told The New Paper.
Dr Kenneth Wong, consultant and director of the Obgyn Centre, said that based on statistics alone, most natural births are safe and without mishap.
"Though uncommon and frequently unanticipated, the births usually happen very fast and often to low-risk patients," he said.
However, Dr Wong does not advocate home deliveries.
"Complications, though uncommon, can occur to even low risk mothers and when they do, they can be rapid and catastrophic. Therefore, they are best carried out in a hospital setting for the safety of both mother and child," he said.
"The first thing to do in such emergencies is to take the patient to the hospital as soon as possible, especially in Singapore, where any obstetric facility is within half an hour away by ambulance."
On About.com website, Ms Robin Elise Weiss, a doula and author of several pregnancy and parenting books in the US, shared several measures that can be taken in the event of an emergency childbirth:
- Don't panic. Remaining calm can help you focus on the birth, even if you are alone.
- Remind the mother to try to pant, or only push very gently with the contractions.
- As the baby's head becomes visible, place your hand on the head and provide it with support. Again, remind the mother to try and pant during this part to help prevent tearing. If you're alone, simply place your hands over the baby's head as best as possible.
- Gently guide the baby out and do not pull on the baby or its head.
- Don't cut or pull on the umbilical cord until the arrival of a medical officer.