Marsha Steyn

The moment I found out I was pregnant; I knew deep inside that I wanted a home birth. I wanted to give birth in a safe and warm environment, where my wishes were met, and I was heard by those assisting me with the birth.

This was very challenging as we were not able to afford any of it. We did not have medical aid and I was doing all my check-ups at the local clinic, where they told me I was going to give birth at a government MOU. This specific MOU was in a very dangerous area and worst of all, I would have ended up having to do it alone and in an unknown environment, because with Covid restrictions no birth partners were allowed.

I made a plan to get funds together. I set up two funding campaigns and I started looking for a doula to help me prepare for my birth at the MOU. I was so fortunate to have met my doula, Helen Digby. At this point I was able to pay her for her services. We chatted and she was so accommodating and listened to my story. It was Helen who informed me about an independent midwife, who is launching her new practice in November. Time passed very quickly, but we were able to secure the finances we needed.

I contacted Crystal, who was willing to meet with us and discuss the road forward.

Crystal was very professional and always listened carefully to my wishes. She agreed with all my decisions and explained certain important parts of the birth process as we discussed my birth plan, and the choices I made regarding myself and my baby. When we started seeing her as our midwife, I was already 33 weeks pregnant. We had two prenatal checks with her and she was amazing. She made me feel so at ease, we were able to chat about all kinds of things.

On 12 November 2021, at 12:45am, my water broke. I phoned both Crystal and Helen, who both advised me to relax and try to get some sleep. I was able to sleep for a few hours and by 6:00 the contractions got more intense. Crystal and her husband, Jeremy, came to the house around 9:00 to check on me. Crystal monitored my vital signs and baby’s heartrate, and did a vaginal examination. At this point I was about 1cm dilated. After they left, I drifted in and out of sleep, focusing on my breathing as each contraction came. I made sure worship music was playing throughout the day and it helped me focus on God and thanking Him throughout the contractions, accepting them and being thankful that each contraction brought me closer to my baby.

Throughout the day both Helen and Crystal would check up on me. I was very calm and with the support of my husband, Ruan, I was able to calmly go through my early labour before Crystal and Helen returned.

At 5:00am I told my husband to phone Crystal and tell her that the pain is much worse. She was here very quickly and by my side when I needed assistance. Shortly after 6am Helen arrived and both of them were with me in the bedroom, helping me through each contraction. Helen would make sure I was drinking water and move around as much as possible. She helped me with hip squeezes and massage to ease the contractions. Crystal was here to make sure both baby and I were doing well.  Jeremy helped Ruan set up the birth pool in our living room before he left. Once I was in the water, it felt as if time stood still. I could sleep in between the contractions. At around 7cm, Helen advised me to go to the bathroom to empty my bladder. After returning from the bathroom, I couldn’t get back into the pool. I stood facing my husband, holding onto him and leaning into him as each contraction came. He was my pillar of strength. He kept motivating me, telling me I can do it! He kept saying we are nearly there; our boy is almost here. I will never forget the love in his eyes, the compassion and concern. Then I was fully dilated.

I remember Helen was next to me, making sure I was breathing. Crystal was sitting on the floor behind me. She told me at one point, that if I feel the burning sensation, I must continue pushing through that. I was able to do it because of her guidance and my trust in her. My “primal instincts “took over and my voice, my inner roar came out. And then, the most beautiful thing happened. Our baby came out into Crystal’s hands and she lifted him towards us. Crystal calmly removed the cord around his neck and baby Elija was placed onto my chest. My husband and I shared our first kiss as parents. We sat on the bed and watched as he gave his first cry. We sat like that for a few minutes and then Elija latched for the first time.

After delayed cord clamping, Ruan cut the cord and he took Elija and kept him skin to skin while Crystal delivered the placenta. I had a 2nd degree tear which she sutured.

Thereafter Helen helped me to the bathroom and helped me take a shower while Crystal did the necessary checks on Elija. Once I was settled and Elija was breastfeeding well, we said our goodbyes. Crystal gave me a kiss on the forehead, which was much appreciated, because it helped me be at ease with what we just went though.

I will be forever thankful towards both Crystal and Helen for what they did for us and the way they helped Elija into this world. They made my dream of a home birth possible. Today, a week later I’m sitting with our beautiful boy on my chest, thinking back to the best day of our lives with contentment and happiness.