Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

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Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...


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Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...


Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...


The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Birth Stories

Janine’s birth story

I had always wanted to give birth naturally or, as my antenatal teacher would say, vaginally. At 38 weeks my baby Chloe was in a footling breech position[1] and it was decided that a C-section would be the best option. I was asked to go in on Friday 19 September at 5am. I felt rather nervous and I did not sleep very well the night before. The drive to the hospital went quickly; we had missed the morning traffic.


We presented ourselves at the labour ward only to be told that they were expecting us at 07h00. I did not know what time I would have my C-section. The hospital staff prepared a bed for me and Logan went off to the main reception and organised my admission to the hospital. My gynaecologist arrived and told me that the operation was scheduled for 10h00. The nurses came bustling in, popped me into a green gown and shaved me.


At 09h45 I had still not been visited by the anaesthetist and I thought that the operation was going to be delayed. She soon arrived and explained to me the importance of curling my spine for ensuring a smooth spinal block.[2] They inserted a drip into my arm and wheeled me into the operating theatre.


I crawled from my bed on to the operating table. I diligently curved my back and sat still for the local injection and spinal block. The spinal block worked quickly and my legs had to be lifted manually on to the bed by the nurses. My catheter was inserted. My other half arrived and I started feeling rather dizzy. A drug was inserted into my drip and the bed was slightly rotated. My CD – James Blunt – was playing in the background and we all waited for my gynaecologist to arrive.


He walked in, said ‘testing 1, 2, 3’, and cut into me. I could see what he was doing by watching his reflection in the silver rim of the operating lights. I averted my gaze. The anaesthetist was playing with my hair. At one stage she reached over me and pushed down hard on my bump to assist the doctors with the delivery. I was told to have a look at my daughter as she was lifted up and out at 10.30am.


Logan got to cut the umbilical cord. I watched the paediatrician doing the APGAR check[3] and once Chloe was warmly wrapped in a towel she was brought to me to hold for a few minutes. Logan and Chloe left the operating theatre together, Chloe in an incubator and Logan by her side. My music was turned off and they stitched me up in silence. The theatre felt very cold.


I was then lifted off the operating table, back on to my own bed, and wheeled into the post-operation unit. I had a brief chat to the nurse and was wheeled back to the ward at 11h00. It felt so strange – my pregnancy was over. I had become a mom in less than an hour.


It took much longer than I anticipated for the spinal block to wear off. After 6 hours they came and removed the catheter and drip. Only then was I allowed to hold Chloe. Logan had been dividing his attention between us.




Score of 0

Score of 1

Score of 2


Skin colour


blue or pale all over

blue at extremities

body pink

body and extremities pink


Pulse rate





Reflex irritability

no response to stimulation

grimace/feeble cry when stimulated

cry or pull away when stimulated


Muscle tone


some muscle tone

flexed arms and legs that resist extension




weak, irregular, gasping

strong, lusty cry


Belinda’s birth story

I slaved over my birth plan, correcting it, editing it, updating it every week. I remember handing it over to my gynaecologist and as he read it, a wry smile appeared on his otherwise quite serious face. ‘This is great . . . just great. But don’t be disappointed if your birth experience is nothing like this.’ But what could go wrong, I thought? I’d wait for contractions to start . . . and when they did I’d calmly inform my husband Gareth that the time had come. He’d then massage my back with relaxing oils while I breathed deeply and sat on my exercise ball to ease any ‘discomfort’.

At the appointed time we’d venture to the hospital and I’d then light candles and incense, while Gareth filled up the birthing pool. I’d then get into the pool and a few hours later, hey presto, our darling daughter would have arrived!

As we got closer to 40 weeks, we were on high alert for any physical changes – I had arrived 5 weeks early so was prepared for anything! But Baby Mountain still refused to budge, enjoying the snug world inside my womb. At our 40-week check-up, the gynaecologist looked a bit worried as he did our scan and my heart filled with dread. He told us that there was virtually no water left and the placenta was completely calcified, meaning the baby had virtually nothing to eat or drink.

‘She needs to come out – preferably early next week,’ he told us. He explained that although I wanted a vaginal birth, induction would most likely be unsuccessful, due to the low water count and the fact that her head was not yet properly engaged. We decided to book a C-section for the Monday, which gave us the weekend to prepare. It took me a while to adjust to the idea of a C-section but once I did, I was incredibly excited that I was finally going to meet our little girl.

But this little girl had other plans; she wasn’t prepared to wait until Monday! On Saturday morning, I started to feel strange tightenings in my womb and wondered if the time had come. I didn’t say anything to my husband, convinced that they were just Braxton Hicks. They began to get rather uncomfortable and by early evening they were painful – I realised this was the real thing! I told my husband to try to get some sleep as we’d need at least one person feeling strong the next day!

I didn’t sleep a wink on the Saturday night as the contractions got even more painful and we decided to go into the hospital on Sunday morning. The midwife examined me and I was so disappointed to be told that I was only 2 cm dilated, after almost 12 hours of quite painful contractions! They then booked me into a delivery room where I spent another 3 hours in pain, only to be told after that, that I was only 3 cm dilated!

By now it was 12 noon and things were progressing way too slowly – so the gynaecologist broke my waters and gave me oxytocin (which helps induce labour) to try and speed things up. I also begged for an epidural which was sweet relief once it arrived. It is a remarkable feeling, you can still feel what is going on down there, but the pain is completely removed. I confessed my undying love to the anaesthetist, much to his amusement! Things then started to speed up nicely and we had finally got to 5 cm dilation.

It was at this stage that the baby’s heart rate started to drop and our gynaecologist told us that if we continued with natural labour, she’d go into distress. He had predicted that this would happen with induction and by this stage I just wanted her out and in my arms. All of a sudden I was being wheeled into theatre, and 9 people were assembled to help with my emergency C-section. All I remember thinking was how handsome my husband looked in scrubs!

At exactly 13:38, my baby girl was born and promptly proceeded to scream her little lungs out. Rachel Elizabeth had arrived. Many people ask me if I was disappointed with the whole experience, especially having an emergency Caesarean. But I just don’t think of it like that. Our daughter made her way into the world the way she was meant to – the whole experience was incredibly positive and I wouldn’t change a thing. Our baby was delivered safely and 100% healthy into our arms and I’m eternally grateful for that.

[1] Footling breech position: one or both feet come first, with the bottom at a higher position.

[2] A spinal block is a form of regional anaesthesia involving an injection of a local anaesthetic into the spinal fluid. A spinal differs from an epidural in 2 ways: it’s delivered directly into the spinal fluid (and not into the space surrounding the spine), and it’s a one-time injection rather than a continuous feed through a catheter.

[3] APGAR score: this is determined by evaluating the newborn baby on 5 simple criteria on a scale from 0 to 2, then summing up the 5 values thus obtained. The resulting APGAR score ranges from 0 to 10. The 5 criteria are Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration.