The home birth trend encompasses Romania. A woman from Roman gave birth at home, with a negotiator at the door and another on the phone

A 32-year-old woman from the city of Roman gave birth at home, refusing medical assistance both for her and for the fetus. Considering the fact that the life of the mother and that of the newborn could have been endangered, the 112 dispatcher sent a police crew to the scene. After four hours of negotiations, the family allowed access to the home for medical personnel, who removed the placenta and cut the umbilical cord.

Sunday, February 11, afternoon hours. A man from the city of Roman, Neamt county, calls 112 and asks for an ambulance with a doctor to register a home birth. His wife had given birth to a baby boy that morning at home. However, neither the placenta nor the umbilical cord had been removed. This is the reason why the medical team that arrived at the scene requests to see the child and the mother, to make sure that the two are out of any danger. But the man categorically refuses.

With no luck and because time becomes the biggest enemy in these cases, at 4:28 p.m. the doctor decides to alert the police. The dispatcher, at that moment, was Loredana Axinte, 43 years old. “The doctor was asking for our support. It was about a newborn who could be in danger. The ambulance crew could not enter people's privacy, their home. But we, as policemen, could have convinced them to let the doctors do their duty. Which is what happened in the end“, Loredana Axinte told, for “Adevărul”.

Loredana Axinte, the negotiator on the phone.  Photo source: IPJ Neamț

Loredana Axinte, the negotiator on the phone. Photo source: IPJ Neamț

The woman, who is a negotiator within the Neamț police, also talked a lot with the baby's father. “Until my colleague arrived on the scene, I tried to do everything I could to convince the man to allow the doctor access to the house. I explained that we are only interested in the well-being of the baby and the mother. The man, however, told us that he does not agree, that he wants to be left to enjoy the moment, the birth of his son. He told me that both he and his wife had planned this home birth ahead of time, that they had inquired about everything that this entailed, that they had prepared properly. I realized I was on the phone with a knowledgeable person, an intelligent man who seemed to know what he was talking about. So I bet on that. I explained that the baby could be in danger if the umbilical cord was not cut, and so could the mother, whose placenta had not been removed. After so many hours after birth, a tragedy could have happened. I had to take that into account. I'm not a doctor, but I had to think about what could be worse”the dispatcher said.

Success after four hours of negotiations

Meanwhile, Silviu Lazăr, the second negotiator, also arrived at the address. The young man, aged 35, has a lot of experience in the field, and over time he has had to deal with some of the most serious cases. All successfully resolved.

I got there around 18.30-19.00. I spoke with the father, I also spoke with the child's grandparents, who had also arrived in the meantime. They all told me that the home birth was an assumed one. Parents believed that this was the best way to protect their child. I explained to the father that we want the mother and the child to be healthy“, Silviu told us.

Silviu Lazăr has 7 years of experience as a negotiator within the Police.  Photo source: IPJ Neamț

Silviu Lazăr has 7 years of experience as a negotiator within the Police. Photo source: IPJ Neamț

The policeman told us that he conducted part of the negotiations through the baby's grandparents. “I talked to his parents more. He kind of avoided leaving the house. He stayed with his wife and child all the time. We somehow tried to reach him through his parents. Also, some very educated people with a lot of common sense. Very well read. They knew the laws very well.”

The negotiations, both on the phone with the dispatcher and face to face with the child's father, lasted around four hours. “There are some procedures that we follow. We try to win the man's trust, not to lie to him. Let's talk to him as honestly as possible, as calmly as possible, to explain to him the consequences of certain actions that he may not be thinking about. You have to feel the man, figure out what his real intentions are. Know when to insist, when to back off“, Silviu explained part of the negotiation procedure.

The Savior understood the point of view of the man who had broken no law. In Romania it is not forbidden to give birth at home. Negotiation was, therefore, the only way to resolve this situation. Silviu put forward the “heavy arsenal”. There are specific negotiation techniques, procedures that he followed exactly. “I was empathetic, I explained to him that we understand him, that we respect his decision. That no one is judging him and that, after all, he hasn't done anything wrong. I told him that the police do not only have the role of issuing fines or drawing up criminal cases. That we are also people, just like them, who understand the problems of those around us. There is a reluctance when it comes to the police. And if you manage to break the ice, get close to the man, then it's a sign that you've won him over“, says Silviu Lazar.

Finally, the baby's father was convinced. “The doctor entered the house, saw the child and the mother. I waited outside. I don't know exactly what happened there, but when it came out, I was interested in only one thing. To know that the two are fine. That was my priority. Let nothing happen to the little one. Some time had passed since the birth.

At the end, the police officer and the baby's father hugged. “I congratulated the new father, I wished the child good health. It was a very cool moment“, the negotiator told us. “We don't judge, we don't challenge, we don't label. Man is at an impasse, and it is our duty to help him, regardless of the situation he is going through“, Loredana added.

Why women choose to give birth at home

Home births have gained momentum in developed countries, and the trend seems to reach Romania as well, which, according to specialists, is not ready for such a procedure. When it comes to the reasons why women opt for such a birth, experts believe that fear drives them to stay at home, even if they are subject to major risks.

Adina Păun, a midwife at the FILIA Center, explained to “Adevărulׅ” that, on the one hand, we are talking about the fear of the system, because there is an anti-state trend here, where we believe that we are not respected and we are being lied to, and on the other hand there is also the fear of the medical system, because we do not feel safe in hospitals. Psychologist Keren Rosner says that distrust of the healthcare system also drives these women to give birth at home.

The midwife claims that births in maternity hospitals in the country can be a real trauma for mothers and that what should be natural ends up being staged. “In Romania, as there are very few midwives and the medical system is constantly overburdened, due to financial and personnel shortages, we end up rushing pregnancies, for example: either we do an unnecessary caesarean section, or we do interventions to reduce the time of labor, such as putting oxytocin infusions to make the uterus contract faster. Thus, we do not let the mother's body get used to it, and a natural birth becomes controlled by the doctor. But, in order to avoid this, we need medical personnel who have time, and here doctors don't really have time”the woman explains.

At the same time, Adina Păun claims that she noticed, unfortunately, that there is a tendency to idealize natural births. “There are people who claim that this is the perfect birth, where no one touches you, when you are not controlled and monitored by a doctor”, says the specialist. And the psychologist points out that, indeed, there is a fashion to give birth at home and that it is very widespread in social media or in various women's groups. However, she warns that “home birth can become traumatic because women do not anticipate that complications may arise. In those moments you panic, inevitably, and thus even more problems can arise during labor, and in the absence of a doctor, your life and that of the baby are in danger.

How home births are done abroad

In several European countries, home birth assisted by a midwife is a fairly common practice, but it is regulated by certain procedures, and hospitals are prepared to receive the mother in urgent cases.

“In the Netherlands, where around 17% of births take place at home, there is an ambulance service that tells the woman at the start that if there are complications she is too far from the hospital and must either come to give birth in it or give birth in a special house closer to the hospital unit. Also, there are concrete procedures related to communication between the midwife who took care of the pregnant woman and the hospital unit, so it is known how many weeks pregnant the woman is, if she has allergies, if she had complications, everything is known. Even in these cases, one in three Dutch women end up in hospital to give birth“, explains midwife Adina Păun.

When it comes to Romania, the midwife says that our country is not ready for home births. In order to have a home birth system, we need to have three things: trained people, a very well-established communication protocol between the midwife who took care of the pregnant woman and the nearest hospital unit, and a very clear case selection of women who could gives birth at home, but before that one must work on hospital births, which should be gentler, concludes the expert.