girl with grandmother - Ilan Asayag - 18122011
Shiran, who helped her mother give birth, with her grandmother Hana, who gave her instructions. Photo by Ilan Asayag
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A 38-year-old mother unexpectedly gave birth to a son on Friday, on the floor of the bathroom of her home. She was assisted by her 10-year-old daughter.

The mother, Ilanit Tupah who was in her 35th week of what is normally about a 40-week pregnancy, went to sleep last Thursday and was awakened by sharp abdominal pain. Her daughter found her at 5 A.M. Friday morning in labor on the bathroom floor, but Tupahi did not realize she was in labor until the baby boy emerged.

Tupahi's daughter, Shiran, wrapped the baby and carried him to the living room, the placenta still attached, and Tupahi herself followed. By then, the newborn's father had awakened to help out, and the Magen David Adom ambulance service was called. An MDA crew cut the umbilical cord and took mother and baby to Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot.

Although the baby boy arrived early, he and his mother were in good condition, said Eti Peleg, a midwife at Kaplan. The boy weighed 1.6 kilos and was admitted to the hospital's unit for premature infants.

Of about 161,000 babies born annually in Israel, it is estimated that several hundred babies are born at home under unplanned circumstances. In January, researchers in Slovenia reported that hospital deliveries were seven times safer than unplanned deliveries of babies at home.

The Health Ministry is currently considering imposing stricter limitations on planned deliveries of babies at home, requiring, for example, that the doctor or midwife who is to perform the delivery secure confirmation from the expectant mother's general practitioner that the patient is physically and emotionally in good health.