’I chose to give birth at home because of Covid-19 – and this is how it went’

Shannon-Leigh Ntshikose (Photo: Supplied to DRUM)
Shannon-Leigh Ntshikose (Photo: Supplied to DRUM)

Although pregnant women can still give birth in hospitals, dads-to-be are not allowed to be present for the deliveries because of the high risk of infection.

With this in mind, Port Elizabeth mom Shannon-Leigh Ntshikose and her husband, Gabriel Ntshikose, refused to be apart during the monumental moment in their lives – the birth of their second child.

Five weeks ago, the couple decided to opt for a home delivery for their baby boy, Honour Triumph Ntshikose, and it was the best decision for them.

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“We were going to have our baby at the hospital since that was the case with my firstborn. The delivery was super-fast, it took me about 20 minutes to deliver him.

“With the coronavirus outbreak and the fact that fathers aren’t allowed in the delivery room, my husband suggested I have a home birth since it wouldn’t take me long to deliver. At the beginning of the pregnancy we wanted a midwife but couldn’t find one here in PE, so I suggested we should go with a gynae because I didn’t want to be stuck and not have anyone to help me deliver.

“When I was 38 weeks pregnant, we went to the hospital and they didn’t allow my husband to go in for the scan with me. That angered me because we were told they couldn’t guarantee that husbands were going to be allowed in during labour because of the pandemic. They didn’t know and at the time, other hospitals were allowing it and some weren’t. Since I’m in a marriage and this was something important to both of us, we decided that this was not going to work for us and I spoke to my doctor to let him know that we were going to have a home birth.

“The day before I went to the hospital, I spoke to a midwife who recently moved from Cape Town and had been living in PE for five months. My gynae was very supportive of my decision even though he’d be losing money. He also agreed to be my standby doctor in case there were any complications even though I’m considered very low risk when it comes to complications during pregnancy.

“The following week my son finally arrived.

Baby Triumph

“I had 35 minutes of mild contractions and didn’t even know that I was in labour. Ten minutes later, the baby was here. We didn’t even get to use the birthing pool and we really wanted the whole experience of having worship and all that. But everything happened so fast and we had to use the bathtub. Thankfully, my midwife lives 10 minutes away and could rush to me.

“When she arrived, I was already 7cm dilated. The baby just came out in the bath and my husband delivered him. Overall, it was a good experience because I experienced no pain at all.

Read More: 'I had twins the week before lockdown': Giving birth amid the Covid-19 pandemic

“I didn’t really have any fears about the option we had chosen because at this time a lot of crazy things are happening. These doctors would rather schedule C-sections, which is unnecessary because the woman would have to be in hospital for days but it is more convenient for them. I’m also happy with our decision because we spent just under R10 000 for our advanced midwife, Desiree Dalpat, who has 10 years of experience and a master’s in midwifery. She came in the next day to check on the baby and give the baby his vaccines, so I didn’t have to leave the house at all.

“In hospital, it would have been another R14 000, R24 000 in total, and around R50 000-R80 000 for a C-section on medical aid.

Read More: 'I saw the twins for about 15 minutes': Local dad shares heartbreaking story of premature birth during lockdown

“I think the pandemic is highlighting the return of midwives and midwifery. We now have a midwife option but before we only trusted doctors and didn’t even think about midwives.

“If we were to have more children, I’d definitely do it this way again because it’s so much safer and more peaceful for me.

Shannon and family

“After having my son, I watched TV with my toddler two hours later and didn’t have any tears or discomfort. The best thing is that I got to deliver with my family all around me, which made the process more special.”