The First Time I Ever Witnessed a Fetus Ejection Reflex

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 in Writings

The First Time I Ever Witnessed a Fetus Ejection Reflex

The first time I ever witnessed a fetus ejection reflex was one summer’s night when I was attending a home birth as a doula.

The first time mother was ten days past her estimated due date and there had been some pressure to induce. She had declined this intervention and made it clear that she would wait for her baby to come. She was a very petite woman and had already been warned by both her obstetrician and her midwife that more than likely, she would require a caesarean and that she should prepare herself mentally and emotionally for that eventuality. The baby hadn’t dropped into her pelvis at all, let alone engaged, her hips were tiny she was told, and she was already very much past her due date.

Instead of these remarks squashing her plans and her confidence, they fueled her instinct to birth at home even more and she made it quite clear that she would prefer to be left alone until she went into labour.

So, ten days after her due date, she let me know that her waters had broken but that she wasn’t yet experiencing any labour pains. She would let me know once things were happening but for now, she was just going to stay at home and wait and see. She would be in touch. Even though we only lived ten minutes from one another, we were separated by the Argus Cycle tour taking place that day, so even if I had wanted to get to her, I couldn’t have, and neither could anyone else, so she really could just be left undisturbed at home.

At around 3 pm in the afternoon, once the roads were open and clear again, I made my way to her home at her request. She and her partner were sitting on the sofa when I got there and after greeting them I sat down on the sofa opposite them.

I felt on the spot, they were looking expectantly at me, as if they were waiting for me to do something. She was experiencing the occasional contraction but it was definitely still very early labour and there was certainly not much that I could do!

I excused myself and went to the loo, and once I was done, I ducked into the garden thinking,

What do I do with myself now?

I spotted a cat lying lazily in a spot of afternoon sun on the grass and I remembered Michel Odent saying something along the lines of:

“If you are unsure of what to do with yourself at a birth, find a cat and copy what they do. Cats are the ideal birth attendants.”


So yeah, I went and sat with the cat.

She didn’t seem to mind too much that I was infringing on her bit of sunlight. At first, I sat a little stiffly, I felt awkward. But soon, her laziness rubbed off on me and eventually, I too was stretched out enjoying the last rays of afternoon sun.

The mother came out into the garden and asked my advice on what she should do.

I asked her what it was that she felt like doing. She said that she was tired and felt like resting and sleeping, so I said,

“Well, why don’t you go and try to do that.”

So off she went. And I stayed with the cat until the sun set.

I snuck back inside the house (like a cat) and saw out of the corner of my eye the mother sitting cross-legged on the sofa, propped up by pillows, resting in between surges – which now seemed to be coming at a more regular pace.

I lay down on the bed in the spare room and fell asleep.

The father woke me to let me know that the mother’s waters had properly broken and so I got up and quietly helped her change her panties and leggings and fetched her a pad.

She then silently slipped off to her bedroom where she stayed for the rest of her labour.

It was interesting because, during her pregnancy, she had envisioned herself spiralling in her great white open plan sitting room. The birth pool was set up there and it had been deemed the official birth space.

But intuitively, as a mammalian, labouring woman, she found the smallest, darkest, cosiest room to labour in. The space she had chosen made it quite clear that she needed and wanted to be left alone.

And so we did.

I stayed in touch with her midwife who was very aware of the labouring mother needing as much space as possible during her labour and that the midwife would head through only once labour was well established.

The father and I read books in the sitting room. At one point he got up and made a stir fry.

I peeked at the mother on my way to the loo once or twice and saw that she was well and truly in her zone, kneeling, leaning on a birth ball, a soft blanket over her shoulders, a sleepy look on her face.

A gentle pink glow from the Himalayan salt lamp giving the room a womb-like quality.

She made soft sighing sounds.

And sang quietly.

Then suddenly, the quiet was broken. She came out of the room looking wild-eyed.

She gave a big grunt and it was as though her entire body contracted into one expulsive peristaltic movement.

“I can feel the head,” she said.

And so we helped her to take off her leggings. We had to cut off her panties, she couldn’t lift her legs.

Three more spontaneous pushes and the baby was out.

A first-time mother.

Giving birth.

A GENUINE fetus ejection reflex!


It is possible!