Shaquaya is the mom of two children, a son who is 13 years old and a daughter who is 13 months. Her first child was delivered by a team of doctors in a hospital, and although the birth went well, Shaquaya says it felt very formal.
When she got pregnant with her daughter more than a decade later, she wanted to go a different route where she felt less like a patient for such an important event. She found the midwives at Jefferson Hospital, and was impressed by how personal her care felt from the first visit.
“Every appointment they asked me something about me,” she says. “They remembered what I did for a living. They asked about my job in education and my son.”
The midwives helped Shaquaya write a plan to create the birthing atmosphere she wanted. They said that if she wanted music, an oil diffuser, snacks, skin-to-skin contact once the baby was born, delayed cord clamping – that was all possible.
While her first pregnancy and delivery were easy, her second wasn’t as smooth. At about 25 weeks, Shaquaya started having contractions. She went in to see the midwives, who checked her out, and found that all was fine. When it happened again the next day, they sent her to see a pre-term labor specialist at West Penn Hospital, who did further testing and didn’t find any issues. The midwives called her every day and after every appointment, minimizing her fear.
Shaquaya carried the baby to full term without any trouble, and when it was time to deliver, she headed to Jefferson Hospital and got settled in for what she figured would be a quick delivery. She was only in labor for a few hours with her first baby, and knew that second children often came faster.
Twelve hours into labor, her birth plan changed – but on Shaquaya’s terms. Some of the things she originally thought she’d like to have no longer sounded good, and the midwives continuously offered other options for comfort and distraction. At this point Shaquaya was exhausted, in pain, and opted for an epidural. At first she was disappointed that she wasn’t able to deliver naturally, but says the midwives gave her reassurance and courage to make her own decisions.
Nearly 24 hours in, Shaquaya had begun to give in to the idea that she might need a C-section to deliver, something she adamantly wanted to avoid – and the midwives knew that.
“A midwife said, ‘Look at me. You are not getting a C-section. You are going to push this baby out, you can do this, your body was made for this.’ And that push from her really gave me the energy and the strength that I needed, because I was exhausted by that time. That was really, really powerful for me.”
Shaquaya pushed for two hours, and then her daughter emerged sideways. When they laid baby Jael on her chest, Shaquaya felt a wave of emotion come over her and she sobbed with joy.
“I couldn’t believe this was the baby who gave me all these problems,” she says. “I had morning sickness my entire pregnancy, basically. Every time I had to leave my classroom to go and throw up, it was so worth it. You cannot put that feeling into words.”