What It’s Like To: Deliver a Baby

Elizabeth Street, M.D. Obstetrician

Every patient and [every delivery] is just a little bit different. It does not ever get boring, because it’s never the same.

Recently a patient called and said she was having a little bleeding. She was a healthy mom with an uncomplicated pregnancy, and this was not her first baby. I told her to go to the hospital. The monitor strip [showing the baby’s heart rate] looked okay. But there were times when it was not quite great, not reassuring. I still didn’t have an explanation of why she was bleeding.

I decided to go ahead and do a C-section. We checked to make sure she was good and numb. I made an incision, about ten centimeters, a bikini cut. Once the head started coming out, the placenta started coming out, too, and there was old blood in the uterus.

Part of the placenta had separated [from the uterine wall]. If that separates too much, the baby can bleed to death. Also, the umbilical cord, the lifeline of the baby, [had grown] through the membrane of the [amniotic] sac. If I had broken her water [to start labor] and I had lacerated one of those vessels, then it would have been a mad dash to the operating room to get the baby out before it hemorrhaged to death.

The cry of a newborn is wonderful. This is the first time their lungs have ever had oxygen in them. They’ve got to begin to breathe on their own. So crying is good. Hearing that cry just made me thankful we did what we did.

I pray every day for God to give me wisdom to guide my hands, to guide my mind to make the right choices.

When I do a delivery at night, it is so hard to go to sleep when I go home because I’m just keyed up. It can take me a couple of hours to go to sleep. There’s a little bit of an adrenaline rush, in a good kind of way, most of the time. It’s thrilling. —As told to M.C. M.

 Elizabeth Street has delivered more than 5,000 babies.

Photo by Artem Nazarov