On 22nd October 2016, we invited a group of women and children to visit Thackray Medical Museum's 'Having a Baby' gallery and talk about our 'Birth Stories project. We asked the children to draw, colour in and write about being born.
One participant told us about a particular birth which stuck in her memory, from her days working as a nurse in her home country of Iran:
Doctors, midwives and nurses on the neonatal ward where the S worked had been told to be on standby for the arrival of a woman in the last stages of labour. The distressed woman, who had been frightened by how suddenly her labour had started and how quickly it had progressed, had flagged down a passing 4x4 vehicle near her home and begged the driver to take her to hospital. However, en route to the hospital, the baby actually started to emerge. As soon as the car reached its destination, medical staff rushed out to assist and the baby was born, healthy and without any further complications, in the car.
S also told us about how she had chosen to have a caesarean section for the birth of both of her children. Although natural birth is encouraged in her home country of Iran, S developed gestational diabetes during her first pregnancy and so elected for a C-section at the private hospital where she worked. The second time around she again requested a caesarean but, whereas the first had been performed under general anaesthetic, this time she was given a spinal injection and was therefore able to stay conscious during the birth. This made it a much more straightforward and positive experience, she told us.
Not all of the stories the women shared with us were happy, and many had experienced miscarriages. One told us about how she had a miscarriage five and a half months into pregnancy, giving birth to a foetus and, unusually, a complete placenta. She described the flurry of doctors who rushed in to examine the placenta. It made the loss of the baby doubly distressing, she told us, because she was made to feel like a circus act.
These pictures were done while we talked about the Birth Stories project. We discussed where we were all born, and whether we were born in a hospital.
The colouring in was an essential part of the discussion process, because it was fun!
Around us drawing and colouring people were talking about having children and their experiences.
The younger members of the group were helping us to document birth stories by chatting to us about what they were told by their family about when they were born.
Ahmad did some colouring in of a picture of a doctor with some of the instruments used to help women when they give birth. Sana coloured in healthy foods to eat, which a mum to be might enjoy when expecting.
Yara shared with us the story of getting her earrings when she was very small.
Healthy foods which Mums to be enjoy
"My name is Yara, i'm 12 years old. I was born in September in Damascus. I have one brother. My Mum told me I was very beautiful and my brother liked me. I remember when my Mum bought me earrings. When I grow up I want to have twins."
Yara told us it's usual for babies to have their ears pierced when they are very little.
Sanam coloured in an image of all the main organs in the body.
Nayab coloured in a lovely picture of a rose.
We requested this fantastic pineapple picture after hearing one woman's story about trying to induce labour by eating lots of the stuff.