Virginia couple delivers baby in bathtub after being sent home from hospital

"He slid out, I caught him and flipped," dad Leo Bienaime said.

September 17, 2019, 4:15 PM

A Virginia couple delivered their firstborn in a bathtub hours after a hospital would not admit them and told the two to go home, the couple said.

LeeAnn Bienaime, 27, and her husband Leo Bienaime, 29, went to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth the evening of Aug. 23 after she had consistent and "intense" contractions, she told ABC News Tuesday.

"I was certain that we were just going to be admitted … In all of 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 in to the hospital," she said. "And we had been timing them."

But when the two got there, they said they were told they wouldn't be admitted because while she was 80% effaced, she was only 2 centimeters dilated, not 5 centimeters.

Her contractions, however, were painful.

"I had gotten sick, so my body was telling me that these were intense contractions," she said.

LeeAnn Bienaime of Chesapeake, Va., gave birth to her firstborn in her bathtub on Aug. 24, 2019 after being told to go home by the hospital hours before.
Courtesy LeeAnn Harris

After two hours at the hospital, nothing had changed. According to LeeAnn Bienaime, two doctors then told her to go home and come back when she was 5 centimeters dilated because she would most likely be more comfortable at home.

"I don't know what that means because I'm a first-time mom. How do I know if it's 5 centimeters?" she remembered thinking.

She added, "In hindsight I would have stood my ground and not left."

A few hours after getting back to their Chesapeake home, LeeAnn Bienaime realized she wouldn't be making it back to the hospital after all.

"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."

Leo Bienaime said once he heard that his wife felt the baby, he quickly dialed 911 for an ambulance and tried to remember the birthing videos he'd seen.

"She said she felt the head and it's like, 'Oh wow. I'm not tired anymore,'" he told ABC News.

Once LeeAnn Bienaime was in the bathtub, her husband said he asked for "one good push."

LeeAnn Bienaime of Chesapeake, Va., gave birth to her firstborn in her bathtub on Aug. 24, 2019 after being told to go home by the hospital hours before.
Courtesy LeeAnn Harris

"He slid out, I caught him and flipped. I wrapped him in a towel and handed him to her," he said.

Both mom and the baby boy, Joachim, are doing well. LeeAnn Bienaime said she feels grateful there were no major complications, but frustrated that she was sent home.

"At first I was angry, and I mean rightfully so, because everyone I would talk to after I told them told me I shouldn't have been told to go home," she said.

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth did not respond to ABC News' request for comment. The hospital did release a statement to WTKR saying they could not comment on an individual's medical treatment without the person's authorization, but they did contact LeeAnn Bienaime.

She said the hospital has apologized profusely and hopes her experience will help other new mothers to stand firm despite what a doctor may say.

"Had I known to really advocate for myself, I still would have been at the hospital," she said. "When you don't know any better and kind of feel like you're being a burden to the doctors, you don't know and you go home."