Heather Cummings, a Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) Practical Nursing student from Florien, was in her first week of Maternal Newborn Class at the school’s Natchitoches Campus when she got the ultimate hands-on training experience – she delivered her next door neighbor’s baby.
“I was sitting on my porch when her husband ran out and said she was having a baby,” Cummings, a third-semester student, explained. “He asked another neighbor for help, and then she said ‘aren’t you a nursing student,’ and so I went in to try to help.” They called 911 to get help and more guidance.
Cummings said when she got to the mother, who was lying in a bathtub, the baby’s head was crowning. “The mother was nervous and I just told her it was going to be OK,” Cummings recalled. “As soon as I put my hands down in the bathtub the baby came out.” Since they were in the mother’s home, not a hospital, Cummings had to be resourceful to get everything she needed until paramedics arrived.
As things settled down, Cummings dried off and cleaned the baby – a girl – and placed it with the mother to hold. When the paramedics arrived, they were surprised at how well things had gone. “They wanted the time of birth and the time of the afterbirth, and I had that. I gave them her vitals and told them about the cord and that I had cleared the airway,” she said.
“I am extremely proud of her,” said Kristin Dupree, Practical Nursing Coordinator and Cumming’s instructor. “When she told me she just delivered her neighbor’s baby I was almost in tears. She acted quickly and did all of the right things. There were potentially two lives saved because of what she did. Might be a labor and delivery nurse in the making.”
Dupree noted the irony of the timing as the students had just started the labor and delivery part of the curriculum that week. “We started the ‘Maternal Child’ course that week, and with the COVID-19 restrictions, the students were disappointed they wouldn’t be able to do traditional clinical,” she said. “No student ever got as much hands-on experience as she did that day.”
The experience has also changed Cumming’s thoughts about working with labor and delivery. “It was a really cool experience, but also terrifying,” she said. “I never thought I would like labor and delivery. If it had gone badly, I might never want to do it, but now I am very interested in that.”
“Heather is a natural. Her innate ability to command a crisis situation coupled with the skills she has obtained at CLTCC provided a happy ending to a beautiful story. We are very proud of Heather,” said Laurie Morrow, Natchitoches Campus Dean
The mother of four children of her own, as well as a grandchild, this was Cumming’s first experience with natural childbirth delivery. “I slept through having my kids,” she laughed. “I was coaching a mom one time, but I was up by her head telling her to breathe and be calm. This was my first time on the receiving end.”
The beautiful baby girl’s mother stated, “Heather is my hero!”