Health Sciences

Parents, paramedics rekindle a unique bond

Author: Fleta Page
Publication: ACT News, June 11 2013

Delivering a baby is something some paramedics may never experience in their career, but for Erin Gilliland, a Paramedicine student at the Australian Catholic University, it happened two weeks ago on her second practical placement.

Meryn and Chris Weenink's second baby arrived a lot faster than they were expecting after a three-day labour the first time around.

Mrs Weenink, 30, said she started feeling faint contractions at 2.30am, but it wasn't until around 9.30am that she became uncomfortable.

When they called their birth centre an hour later to report a pushing sensation, they were told to call an ambulance.

Gavin Godkin, an intensive care paramedic arrived at their Florey home 10 minutes later with his paramedic partner and Ms Gilliland, the intern; just in the nick of time, with Mrs Weenink giving birth in the bathtub.

"I'd delivered her head and Chris was holding onto her head and Gavin and Erin walked in the door as the next contraction was about to come and help deliver the shoulders, and [they] got the cord from around her neck," Mrs Weenink said.

"Had the next push come along, we weren't thinking where the cord was.

"Chris had done a great job, but there were certain things that weren't going through our head ... so it was a huge relief to have them walk through the door and take control and they were really happy and excited to see us, and it was really quite an amazing experience"

Mr Godkin said it was rare to actually be there for the delivery of a baby, although he's relatively experienced, having delivered close to 10 in the last decade.

For 20-year-old Gilliland, in her second year of a four-year Nursing/Paramedicine degree, the experience was "quite magical".

"I think we've touched on [childbirth] a little bit, but that is sort of more a third year subject I think. I'd read about it previously in textbooks... but it was all quite new to me," she said.

It's an experience none of them are likely to forget, and the unique bond was rekindled as the paramedics visited the family again on Tuesday morning.

"You do remember [the births], because it's so different to everything else [we] do, it's a different mindset," Mr Godkin said.

"I still remember my first one and each time you do it you've got a bit of adrenaline."

Mrs Weenink recalls the birth as a happy experience in hindsight, but she hasn't yet been able to bring herself to have a bath in the tub.

And after delivering a healthy baby, Mr Godkin joked the baby should be named after him.

"I did [suggest] some play on my name, being Gav, but they've called her Emma," he said.

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