First-time mom forced to give birth in her bathtub after being turned away from hospital

Ama Nunoo September 20, 2019
LeeAnn and Leo Bienaime and baby Joachim, WTKR TV

First-time parents go through all the emotions of pregnancy together as a couple. They sometimes take pregnancy classes together and read all the books there is, just to make the arrival of their new-born a memorable one.

Ideally, most parents choose to have their babies in the hospital while others choose to have their baby at home with their spouse and a doula. The underlining point is the parent has the right to choose where and how to welcome their baby.

Virginia couple, Leo and LeeAnn Bienaime had to welcome their new-born on their own in their bathtub at home. The 29 and 27-year old couple went to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth after a heavily pregnant LeeAnn started experiencing intense continuous contractions the evening of August 23.

In an ABC News interview, she said, “I was certain that we were just going to be admitted … In all our classes and appointments, they told us that when you’re having contractions five minutes apart for a minute long, for one hour, you should come into the hospital,” she said. “And we had been timing them.”

On arriving at the hospital, they had a different experience than they had anticipated. She was completely worn from all the contractions but had only dilated 2 centimeters.

Sadly, the couple was asked to go home till she is dilated further. “I was told that I should come back when my contractions were when you can’t really walk and you can’t really talk through them,” said LeeAnn.

The restless expectant mother spent an extra two hours in the hospital and was still unattended to. A pregnant woman is closer to delivery when she is 5 centimeters dilated, health experts say. Two doctors advised her to go home to relax until she is 5 centimers dilated.

Pregnant women are often unable to tell the number of centimeters they have dilated to as all they feel is the intense pain that comes with contractions.

For a first-time mom like LeeAnn, this was overly stressful and confusing. “I don’t know what that means because I’m a first-time mom. How do I know if it’s 5 centimeters?” she thought at the time.

The couple hesitantly drove 25 minutes to their Chesapeake home and after pacing the bathroom for a while, LeeAnn finally got into the bathtub when she felt her son’s head. Leo then dialled 911 and reality kicked in for them.

LeeAnn told WTKR, “I had to let instinct take over and just go with it and kind of release myself to the experience.” She added, “I was just in pain and [Leo] was like, ‘Did your water break?’ and I felt this pressure and then I felt the head,” she said. “I was just going through my feelings of anxiety and not being able to believe that I’m going through this.”

Four hours later, baby Joachim was born. Leo asked her to give “one good push” and with the help of his father’s little knowledge on birthing, their baby was born. Leo said, “He slid out, I caught him and flipped. I wrapped him in a towel and handed him to her.”

First-time mom forced to give birth in her bathtub after being turned away from hospital
LeeAnn Bienaime and son, Photo: WTKR TV

Luckily, the mother and child were in good condition after delivery with no adverse effects. Looking back at their ordeal, Mrs Bienaimes said she should not have easily given in when the doctors asked them to go home.

“We were able to have a healthy birth, a healthy baby boy – that’s why I’m not completely enraged,” said LeeAnn. “I feel like if it had gone another way, it would’ve been a different story.”

This is an unforgettable experience for the couple, and Leo said he will be telling this story for the rest of his life.

First-time mom forced to give birth in her bathtub after being turned away from hospital
LeeAnn Bienaime and son in a hospital after she delivered in her bathtub, Photo: WTKR TV

WTKR’s reached out to the hospital for comment and its rep, Shauna O’Sullivan, responded to the station with this statement:

“Naval Medical Center Portsmouth is committed to ensuring the safety of every patient and providing high quality care.  Whenever a patient has a concern about their care and treatment, we welcome the opportunity to discuss this with them and resolve any potential issues.  

“Due to HIPAA, we cannot discuss anything specific on an individual’s medical treatment without their authorization. The patient has been contacted directly about her care while here at NMCP.”

The hospital has also contacted the Bienaimes and apologized to them for having had to brace the trying moments of childbirth on their own at the risk of the mother and unborn child.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 20, 2019


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