Baby-Friendly Hospital and Birth in Wiesbaden, Germany; Photographed by Nikki Williams
This birth story written in the photographer's words. I particularly love this story because it epitomizes everything we wanted to be able to share on our site about births around the world. I love the differences Nikki points out between births in Germany, and those in America. She also notes the differences in a baby-friendly facility than a traditional hospital. In the United States, you can find baby-friendly hospitals on this list.
This is the Asklepios Paulinen Klinik in Wiesbaden, Germany. I loved this hospital-- Certified Baby-Friendly with clip-on co sleeping cots for babies, homeopathics, essential oils, birth tubs, mood lighting, walking epidurals, everything Americans clamor for, as standard of care. This birth epitomized the best of German birth culture, which is generally very supportive of normal birth, albeit only in hospitals or birth centers as there is a current homebirth midwifery crisis in Germany. These images epitomize the feeling of light, warmth and uncomplicated, enthusiastic support that fills the small Kreisssaal or delivery ward of this hospital, a local favorite for natural birth. The ward is staffed by midwives, who are required by German law to be attendant at all hospital births, while OBs are only called to advise individual births when there are complications. They are masters at achieving safe natural birth, with secrets I've never seen before and may never see again.
This birth actually occurred in a family labor and recovery room...notice the low, queen-size mattress instead of a hospital bed. This is where families labor then return to co-sleep all together in this big bed after giving birth in the delivery suite.
I had been on high alert for this couple for a long time, as she had a history of preterm birth and had been experiencing preterm contractions at 2cm dilated that were coming every five minutes for over a week. I even competed in dragonboat races with my phone stuffed down the front of my underwear, just in case I was summoned. I was right to be on edge as this little babe came only about one hour after mom went into active labor and only about thirty minutes after I crashed through the door. After those exhausting expectant weeks, this mom deserved a quick and easy birth, and she got it. After only a handful of spontaneous pushes, the baby came so fast that his face was in perfect form as he emerged, no squashing or swelling. I watched as he opened his eyes and blinked at the midwife who was laughing with surprise as she waited for his body to be born. This was her fourth baby, her first without meds, and "her best birth." Over and over again, the American families I worked for pronounced their Paulinen Klinik birth experience as their best one, whether it was their first birth or their fifth.
Nikki Williams Birth Services in Harrogate, England.
You can find Nikki's facebook page here.