De mooiste familie-ervaring | Een prachtige thuisbevalling

On 22 January I receive a phone call from Marvin at 5:18am. It takes a while for me to wake, so I am just too late to answer. When I call back he tells me Malu is dilated to 5cm, and has strong contractions. I’m wide awake now, and I just say, “I’m on my way!”


I have to go to Wemeldinge, and it’s just a bit further than the hospital in Goes for me. Initially Marvin and Malu wanted to have their second child in the hospital, but when we met, and I showed them photos, they changed their minds. When Malu mailed me after our conversation, she wrote that they would love me to be their birth photographer, and they had decided to have a home birth. I didn’t try to convince them home birth was better, by any means, but during our conversation they just got the feeling that this was the right choice for them. How special!

But now: 5cm, and strong contractions, and it’s the second baby, so it could happen quickly. I have no time to lose, and in 12 minutes I’ve gone from lying in bed, to being dressed and in the car with my camera bag ready! By now I’ve seen that Malu sent me a WhatsApp at 2:30am to tell me her waters had broken and the midwife had told her to try and get some sleep before contractions started. Apparently, that happened quite quickly. 🙂 I’m looking forward to photographing this birth, and as always, I hope all goes well. Their 4-year-old daughter Puk will also be at the birth. She will be the one who can announce whether it’s a brother or a sister, because it’s a surprise. So awesome!

Completely calm

At 6:00am I’m at their home. It’s busy! The cat is sitting in the window, and Puk is downstairs in her pyjamas, wide awake, with her uncle, aunt, oma and opa. Malu is upstairs in bed. If I didn’t know she was in labour I’d think she was just having a nap. With a smile on her face! She wants to get in the tub, but waited until I was there, in case things would go quicker once she was in the tub. She is worried about getting cold, but gets out of bed anyway. At 6:05am she’s in the bath. She can’t submerge herself completely, and the part of her body which is out of the water is getting very cold. Puk comes upstairs to have a look, and give her mum a kiss. “You’re doing well, Mummy,” she says. Malu is getting too cold in the tub, and gets out at 6:20am. She is shivering, and quickly dives back under a warm blanket. Marvin is with her to offer support, and doesn’t leave her side. Malu is completely calm. I can’t believe she’s in labour!


At 7:00am, the contractions change into an urge to push! Malu is dilated to 10cm, and she can push. That’s gone quickly! Puk is downstairs, so someone quickly calls her upstairs. She comes up together with her oma. Because the baby is still quite high, the midwife suggests pushing on her hands and knees. Malu tries it, but she doesn’t like it much. After a few minutes, she moves onto her side, and that goes well! Malu has to work very hard. Puk holds her hand and softly rubs it with her thumb. It’s so sweet! I ask Puk a few times whether she finds it scary at all, but she is totally unconcerned. You can’t say the same for oma – she is looking very stressed. Oma needs more mental support than Puk does. 😉

When the head comes into view, and Malu is pushing with all her might, I take a quick look at Puk. She yawns, and stretches. It’s hilarious, and unfortunately, I’m just too late with my camera, because I was just going to ask Puk how she was doing. But all things considered I don’t need to ask, haha.

And then, at 7:32am the head is born! The contraction has just ended, and so we have to wait for the next one. The baby is not making the necessary turn, so the midwife asks Malu to move onto her hands and knees again. It’s an amazing sight to see Malu turning with a baby’s head between her legs. Puk also thinks it’s fascinating. It’s simply beautiful when Malu is on her hands and knees, and Puk can study her baby brother or sister in detail. It looks almost unreal!


Then the next contraction comes and at 7:33am the baby arrives!! It’s completely caught up in the cord. Puk immediately comes to see what it is. “A boy,” she says. I hear Marvin say, “Have another look. I don’t think it is a boy.” Puk looks again, and Marvin is right – it’s a girl. 🙂 It was hard to see with that long cord, haha.

Malu is still on hands and knees and hasn’t seen her little girl yet. The baby is covered in vernix, and needs a bit of help to get started. With a bit of rubbing she quickly starts crying. The midwife helps to pass her through Malu’s legs. Another beautiful moment!

Puk is already at the door, on her way downstairs to tell everyone that she has a baby sister. Puk is the one who will tell us all the name, and since she’s now gone, we still don’t know what the name is. 🙂 I go downstairs to ask whether she can come upstairs to tell us what her sister is called, and she’s willing. She comes proudly into the room and tells us, “my sister is called Pleun.” What a lovely name!

Pleun is now lying comfortably with her mother, and the cord has stopped pulsing. Malu asks Puk whether she wants to cut the cord, but she doesn’t, so Marvin gets the honour. Shortly after that the placenta is born, and this is another fascinating moment for Puk. It’s a beautiful sight. Marvin is gazing love-struck at Pleun, Malu is talking to the post-natal nurse, and the midwife is checking over the placenta under Puk and oma’s watchful gazes. There is no better atmosphere so soon

Skin to skin

Malu does need a few stitches, so Marvin gets a building spotlight which lights up the whole room, so that the midwife can see well. So much atmosphere. 😉 Pleun has a cuddle with her dad, but soon goes back to mum to distract her. Malu tries to get her to latch, but she doesn’t manage yet. So she goes back to dad, skin-to-skin! Opa, Oma and the proud aunt also come upstairs! Puk and Pleun’s uncle has gone to work already. The other grandparents are called on FaceTime so that they can see their new granddaughter.

Before Pleun gets her newborn checks she is put to the breast. She was rooting while Marvin held her, and she knows exactly what to do when she’s given to Malu, and she drinks well. Then it’s time for her checks. Everything is perfect, and Puk counts her fingers carefully. Marvin shows how Pleun was nestled in Malu’s belly – beautiful! The post natal nurse suggests putting Pleun skin-to-skin with Malu. I agree, but first want to take some photos of the family. I take some photos of Pleun, of Pleun and Puk together (what a wonderful big sister), and of the family together.

What a beautiful experience. Malu later writes and tells me that it was also very special for their bonding as a family. I understand that completely.

I wish you much happiness together!