Tiny baby's dramatic delivery

01:49, Dec 08 2011
Betty Ras

An 18-year-old woman has given birth to a premature baby the size of an adult hand and her survival has stunned the medical team that delivered her.  

Kaeo woman Kataraina Hape unexpectedly gave birth in the back of an ambulance on Saturday and her baby weighed just 907 grams.

Midwife Betty Ras says it is one of the most impressive births in her 25-year career. 

Baby Cynthia Jane Williams
NEWBORN: Cynthia Jane Williams' arm is about the same size as her mother's thumb.

"Cynthia Jane still has a long way to go but it's considered a miracle that she was born so far away from hospital and did so well. They should have named her Miracle," she says.

Hape arrived at her midwife's clinic at 10.15am, complaining of pain.

"I could see she was in labour and estimated she was less then 30 weeks pregnant," Ras says.


"The ambulance arrived about 20 minutes later and we just had the patient in the vehicle when she said she could feel pressure.

"I saw the membranes bulging but decided to leave the waters intact to avoid any pressure on the baby's head."

It was a warm day, making it easier to provide necessary heat, Ras says.

"I quickly grabbed my home birth tools, St John officer Jan James heated some towels under her shirt and St John officer Mirjam Reesink had the oxygen ready.

"I caught the extremely small baby and broke the membranes as soon as she was born, dried her and put her on to her mother's chest, covered in body-heated towels."

The baby girl was born at 10.50am weighing just 907grams, but she was pink and breathing by herself.

"I was so relieved and impressed that this tiny little thing was fighting so hard to breathe."

While Ras was monitoring the baby's oxygen and caring for her mother, James and Reesink were organising a helicopter with a paediatric team from Whangarei.

Ras, who specialises in natural birth, says: "In an emergency like this, with no immediate hospital back-up, you go back to the basics: all babies need air (oxygen), warmth, food and love. On mother's chest, close to her heart, connected to the placenta and oxygen near her mouth – this was the best we could offer her for the first hour. We made a little hat of Gladwrap and a Gladwrap blanket over her body so she wouldn't lose heat or fluids through her very thin skin.

"Babies who are born this early can't suck or swallow so we could only hope the paediatrician would come soon to put a drip up with glucose and the necessary medication."

The ambulance moved to the Kerikeri Domain to be ready for the emergency helicopter. Every time the mother moved, the baby made little noises like a bird, Ras says.

The temperature in the ambulance was up to about 30 degrees C when the paediatric team, including a doctor and a specialised nurse, arrived by helicopter from Whangarei.

"They were surprised that little Cynthia Jane was still pink and breathing and her blood sugar level was pretty good.

"We were all sweltering for nearly two hours as we worked. It was an amazing team effort with five people in an ambulance on the Kerikeri Domain, fighting for the life of such a small baby, who even in a tertiary hospital might not survive."

Bay Chronicle