Mom shares Norwalk Hospital midwifery birth experience
A mother of three, Kate C. approached her fourth due date feeling elated to meet her sweet new baby.
She had none of the third trimester jitters, knowing her trusted midwife, Esla Aminlewis, would be at her side for every contraction.
Aminlewis had assisted at Kate’s three previous births: Ezra in 2015, Ilana in 2017 and Benjamin in 2019. She wasn’t going to miss this one, and so she felt completely at ease.
Esla Aminlewis, Kate C. and her husband with son Benjamin in 2019 at Norwalk Hospital.
Then Kate got COVID-19, two days after her due date of Dec. 21, 2021.
“I was freaking out,” the 37-year-old said. “I had read all these stories about how some hospitals won’t do skin-to-skin. They take your baby away, and they won’t let your doula or your partner in.”
Kate is among about 2,350 women who have given birth at Norwalk Hospital’s Birth Center since the pandemic began in March 2020 through May 2022.
She’s also a psychologist who has listened to women share their regrets about their stressful, fearful birth experiences.
“They just didn’t feel like they had any control,” Kate, of Stamford, Conn., said.
It was hearing those birth stories as well as glowing testimonials about midwifery care that led Kate to Aminlewis seven years ago during her first pregnancy.
Esla Aminlewis and maternity nurses surround Kate C. and her husband with son Ezra in 2015 at Norwalk Hospital.
A midwife with 32 years of experience, Aminlewis is part of a team of four who deliver babies at Norwalk Hospital and see OB-GYN patients at Nuvance Health Medical Practice’s midwifery office on Stevens Street.
Aminlewis’ mother was a nurse-midwife in Trinidad, West Indies, and she had grown up admiring how entire families looked up to her mother. Her career choice was easy.
Kate described midwifery care as “very warm and empowering.” She wanted to have a medical practitioner she trusted.
All her previous birth experiences were “amazing,” she said, including her first two unmedicated, natural deliveries. She compared what her body went through to what an ultra-athlete endures.
“It’s so much work for the swarm of women helping me through [labor],” she said, recounting how she was repositioned, massaged and supported every minute.
That all led up to her pandemic birth, the timing of which correlated directly with the new surge of holiday COVID-19 cases. On her due date, Fairfield County had 1,548 new cases in a single day, peaking on Jan. 10, 2022.
Overdue and feeling like she had a mild flu, Kate tested herself for COVID-19 on Christmas Eve.
When her test was positive, her first call was to Aminlewis.
“I called Esla crying,” she said. “Esla told me, ‘It’s going to be fine.’ And it totally was.”
At 2 a.m. on Dec. 27, Kate let her midwife know she was laboring at home. They met at the hospital at 4 a.m. By 6 a.m., she and her husband met their baby boy.
“They all wore their PPE, but they were all right there helping me while I was in labor,” she said. “It was just like my other births.”
Luckily, the 7-pound, 15-ounce precious baby Sammy was COVID-19 negative.
Proud parents with son Sammy, their doula and midwife, Esla Aminlewis, on Dec. 27, 2021, at Norwalk Hospital.
Having birthed four babies — one during a pandemic — Kate’s advice to other expecting mothers is to be choosy about who delivers your baby.
“Make sure you love their approach; you agree with their protocols, you are in sync and that they listen to you with a real desire for you to have the birth you want.
Then leave the rest in their hands,” she said.
At Nuvance Health, midwives deliver babies at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut and Northern Dutchess Hospital in New York and provide OB-GYN care at Nuvance Health Medical Practice. Learn more about maternity services or search for a midwife.