A daily stream of life

Percival Portrait Prize

Felix's birth 2015

Felix's birth 2015

Little Felix here, a few seconds old and still attached to his placenta. When his brothers were born, Dad missed out on cutting the umbilical cord, and it was important to the family if this could happen with Felix. But Felix’s mum, Natelle, was having a planned caesarean section.

Delaying the cord cutting in this way at caesarean had never been done before at Townsville Hospital. Dr Greet Hoet, her obstetrician, felt that unless there was an emergency, she saw no reason not to go for it.

Natelle said, “Once Felix was born, Dr Hoet cradled him to her own chest. He let out one small cry and then snuggled into her quietly. The sight of my obstetrician who had been so instrumental in orchestrating such a special delivery, cradling and rocking my newborn son, speaking sweetly to him, while occasionally tugging the cord gently to check if the placenta had come away, is something I will treasure for the rest of my life.”

Four hours after the birth, Natelle’s husband used a braided tie made by their close friends and he cut the cord.

Dr Hoet was delighted to be able to do this for Natelle, even though it was out of the ordinary. When a caesarean is recommended, women can sometimes feel like their birth experience is out of their control and they may feel disempowered and helpless. She recognises that if health care providers can contribute to a better emotional experience for the parents, without compromising safety, then they have a responsibility to do just that. Truly family-centred care at the Townsville Hospital.

This image was a finalist in the Duo Magazine Percival Photographic Portrait Prize 2016 and is on display at the Pinnacles Gallery, Townsville until 10th June 2016. All profits from sales donated to the Townsville Women's Centre.