Westmead midwife coaches dad through surprise home birth

Westmead Hospital midwife Lynelle King visits the happy couple Deanne and Richard Hamwi with their son Hugo and newborn daughter Freya.

Deanne Hamwi had been labouring since 9pm and was preparing herself for a long night when a contraction at around 2am presented an unexpected challenge.

“I think her head just came out,” Deanne said to her husband Richard.

Richard had just been on the phone to the couple’s caseload midwife, Lynelle King, and were expecting to meet her at Westmead Hospital. Now he was urgently calling her again with the latest development.

“I wanted to hold off until Lynelle got here, but when it clicked that I would be the one delivering our baby, I felt at peace with it. It was one of those fight or flight moments when I didn’t have time to panic – I knew what had to happen and I just did it without questioning,” Richard said.

“Lynelle was very comforting and reassuring over the phone. She just kept reminding us this was natural, Deanne was capable and we could do it.”

Three minutes later baby Freya Isabel entered the world weighing 3.79kg and measuring 52.5cm long.

Richard laid her on Deanne’s chest and covered her with towels, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when she started crying.

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Lynelle arrived at the couple’s Toongabbie home around 20 minutes later and helped birth the placenta, which they placed in an empty ice cream container while they waited for the ambulance to arrive to clamp the umbilical cord.

It was not the midwife’s first home birth, but certainly a memorable situation coaching the couple through the experience over the phone.

“As a caseload midwife I get to know the family quite intimately. There’s a trust relationship to work through any difficulties and concerns,” Lynelle said.

“I was also their midwife for the birth of their son, so I knew Deanne was a calm person and a good labourer. Some couples might panic in this situation but I knew they could do it and it would be a special experience for them.

“It’s very rewarding for me to empower people, give them the information they need, then step back and see this wonderful outcome. Birth is a normal, natural process to embrace and not fear.”

Looking back two weeks later, the couple said they were grateful for the unforgettable occurrence and would consider a planned home birth if they have more children.

 “Once I realised what was happening, I was actually relieved I didn’t have to get in the car and wouldn’t be labouring for a long time. It all happened quickly and felt right. Immediately after I felt good, it didn’t feel like I’d just given birth,” Deanne said.

“It was a surreal experience. We were in awe of the situation, just thinking ‘we did that’,” Richard said.

“I keep thinking how extremely grateful we are that there were no complications or issues, and we’re so thankful we had Lynelle to coach us through it and Deanne’s mother just around the corner. And our two-year-old son slept right through it. God was looking after us.”