Face Presentation Vaginal Birth

by Birth Without Fear on June 4, 2011

Babies really can come out different ways. My last baby was birthed facing my left thigh. Yes, I birthed him sideways, shoulders and all.

A friend of mine recently gave birth to her sweet baby girl. Not only did she have a successful VBAC in the hospital, but her daughter was birthed with a face presentation (yes, her face was birthed first) weighing 8 lbs 1 oz! This is with a mentum anterior delivery of the chin.

Look at her little tongue between her squishy lips. Inspiring!

face presentation vaginal birth

Welcome earthside baby girl and way to go Mama!

*Pictures taken by Kali Shanti Park with Mama Matters.

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruthie June 4, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I love this!! Awesome, inspiring, beautiful. Amazing.

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Soshanna June 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Wow, I find that picture incredible! Not sure how many of my first time mums would agree though. ;-)

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Mary Bennefield June 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Beautiful!! Way to go Mama!! <3

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Chasity June 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I find this an amazing picture!! And I’m a photographer!! Thx for sharing!! ;)

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stephanie June 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Amazing picture! I need to save this one to show people what I mean when I say ‘face presentation’ (too often confused with posterior). This is why my first child was born by c/s. I was planning a home birth and once fully dilated my midwife noticed the nose and lips. She and I weren’t comfortable delivering him face presentation due to the risk of neck/spine injury (plus I want’ having any urges to push after hours fully dilated) so we/I decided to transport for a c/s. Took my recent vbac to truly heal from that experience.

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Bethany - Fit2B Studio June 4, 2011 at 2:53 pm

What a neat way to be born. I also like how the finger is there helping the perineum to stretch. Every mama is Fit2B birthing!

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Jessica June 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Oh how I wish my brow presentation baby would have come out. She was my first cesarean. :-( I’m so glad that this momma’s care provider was willing to let her try.

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Erin November 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Jessica – I had a brow presentation too. And I did try, well I tried because my OB didn’t realize it was brow presentation and my son was hurt pretty bad in the process. I ended up with a c-section (upon the c-section the presentation was realized)

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Zoe January 5, 2012 at 9:23 am

My son was also c-section with a brow presentation and he was really jammed in there! He was quite badly hurt and I was nearly yanked off the table with the force used to get him out of my pelvis!

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Abbey June 4, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I sure hope that sweet baby got a chiropractic adjustment after birth. I be her neck is a mess! Amazing photo!

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Jen June 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Breathtaking!!!!

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Stephanie June 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm

So amazing! Way to go mama! And you have some AMAZING photos to remember it by! (not that you would ever forget)

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Kali Park June 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Thanks for posting this, January. It WAS really neat seeing it! It was the midwife’s firs time seeing it and her attending OB hadn’t seen one in over a decade. A blessing that her care provider knew what to do for it!

Anyone may repost this picture if you like, with these conditions:

1. Picture must be posted in it’s entirety, no editing or cropping.
2. Please credit me, Kali Park, by posting a link to my website http://www.mamamatters.com Thanks!!!

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Andrea June 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Wow, that’s so rad! Each baby knows how to be born the way that is best for them. :D However, I’d probably have a big problem with somebody sticking their finger in my already very-stretched birth canal though!! Uuuugh! Only hands-off birth for me, thanks. ;)

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Brittany J June 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm

The finger was actually per moms request in her birth plan to prevent tearing. In this birth there was no cutting or tearing, however.

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Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama June 4, 2011 at 11:54 pm

That is the coolest picture, ever! What a grand entrance ;)

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Mary June 5, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I am so proud of this mama! Face presentations are extremely rare and what is more rare is a care provider, either OB or MIDWIFE who feels comfortable in guiding the baby out. This mama selected her care provider very well and should be so very proud of her birth. Other mamas who have had to have cesareans for this presentation should truly feel proud of their births too. It truly is not a typical birth presentation that care providers are trained for.

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rhaissa June 6, 2011 at 8:11 am

amazing photo!!!!!

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Mae Redmond June 6, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I wasn’t sure if this was real or a joke when I first saw it but then the day this was posted I saw the same picture, or at least the same presentation, in Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth.

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Valencia Jackson June 13, 2011 at 9:15 am

That’s the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen!!! <3 Way to come into the world!!

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krista bella June 13, 2011 at 11:46 am

well done, both of you! All the best

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Elizabeth June 13, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Wow! That is amazing. What a great picture.

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Jessica June 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Believe it or not, an anterior face presentation is exactly the same diameter as a typical anterior presentation. There should be no reason why it should be much different from a typical birth, though a bit surprising I bet to see a face coming first! I always think it probably says something about the baby’s personality. They want to come out looking at the world, you know, to see where they are headed!

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Leanna October 12, 2011 at 9:44 am

The diameter may be the same, but because it is not the maleable part of the skull presenting itself first, I do believe face presentation has the potential to result in a more difficult delivery. If you could see the pictures of my son born face presentation (mentum anterior) you’d understand what I mean… his face was very bruised and swollen and he looked NOTHING like the beautiful baby I had envisioned. Also, the way that the face exerts pressure on pelvis is different than the parts of the baby’s skull designed to overlap slightly as the baby’s head negotiates its way through the pelvis. My sister, a labor and delivery nurse who attended my son’s birth, said that a vaginal delivery of a face presentation baby can be more painful for the mother. Since this was my first, I have nothing to compare the pain to, but things like back pressure and squatting only made the pain worse. I still birthed without drugs though, so I would describe the labor and delivery as bearable.

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Denise June 16, 2011 at 12:51 am

Amazing picture! My first son came out cheek first:) very hard delivery but all worth it. Congrats to this mama!

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Sarah June 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Although this is a wonderful story and great pic of face-first presentation, I think I feel more sad now, knowing my brow-presentation baby COULD have been born naturally if my OB hadn’t been so big on intervention :( I think her brow-presentation skewed the ultrasound into OB thinking she was gonna be HUGE (8-2 isn’t that big). Wish I would have had this info 7 1/2 years ago. Thanks for the post though, now I know I could do it if it came up again :)

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Asi December 1, 2012 at 9:42 am

Dear Sarah,
do not be sad, but thankful for a healthy baby. As an OB who has delivered a couple of face presentations and tries to be sensitive to birthing women’s desires, I can assure you a brow presentation is a completely different ball of wax, and is near impossible to deliver unless it is a premie or tiny baby. Check out any reputable website with pictures and measurements, and you will see why.

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Lindsay May 19, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I wanted you to know it is not impossible. I had a 9lb 5oz boy with face presentation and shoulder dystocia (not sure if I spelled that right). Anyway, his head came out fast and then he was stuck. The nurses did something I can only describe as trying to stick my feet behind my head and the rest slipped out. The doctors showed up after.

I’m no expert, just wanted to share my experience so you knew it was possible.

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Hillary August 7, 2011 at 8:29 am

Congrats to this mama on a safe delivery. For all of us moms who have had a cs because our babies presented face first: let’s not undermine the training of our OBs who decided a cs was the best thing to do in our situations. They go through years and years of schooling to train for moments like our own, to train for performing a complicated surgery. They are not dumb. They don’t intervene just because.

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Mrs. BWF August 8, 2011 at 8:04 am

Hillary, I have had c-sections as well. I am very grateful to my first OB who was a wonderful man and surgeon. He treated me with respect and kindness and respected all my wishes. I absolutely agree that OB’s go through years of schooling, residency and training for those births/women/babies who need their help and I am so grateful they have worked so hard and put in the years and training to help them/us. We definitely agree on that! Unfortunately though, they do intervene many times when unnecessary. They just do. However, that does not mean your OB did in your situation. You are a mother who is grateful your OB was respectful and skilled to help when needed (as was I). Congratulations on the birth of your son. He is absolutely beautiful (as are you).

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Wendy September 22, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Amazing Picture!!!

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Leanna October 12, 2011 at 9:24 am

My first baby was born face presentation (mentum anterior) as well. What an amazing photo! I was wondering what it must have looked like down there when it was happening. However, I’m surprised at how beautiful the baby girl looks after birth. My son’s face was swollen and very bruised… looked like he’d been in a pub brawl. We were planning on a home birth, but when my water broke in the pushing phase the nurse-midwife diagnosed him as a breech baby and I was transferred to the hospital via ambulance. Even though I was having pushing contractions, I was told to try NOT to push so that my baby wouldn’t be born enroute to the hospital. Once the OB saw that he was face presentation, I was given an episiotomy to hurry things along. Baby was born not breathing though and I’ve read that some face presentation babies are born stunned. They eventually got him to breathe on his own and ultimately intubated him for meconium aspiration. My twin sister who attended the birth and is a labor and delivery nurse said she had never seen anything like it and I could tell she was terrified when the baby was born not breathing. If it is any consolation to the women who had C-sections for their face presentation babies, in some cases, I would think this is less traumatic for the baby. Our baby had seizures due to the short period of asphyxia at birth and I’m assuming that the trauma to his face did not help. Scary first few days and far from what I had expected birth would be like despite all of my careful planning, but today my son is a beautiful and healthy 10-month old.

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Safiyah October 26, 2011 at 5:18 pm

So the baby in the black and white birth photo and the baby in the color photo below it are the same baby?

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Kali Park November 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Yes.

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Shannon November 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm

My second baby was a face presentation born at home. We didn’t realize until the last minute what was going on, but all was fine as I was able to push him out quickly. He was bruised and puffy, but otherwise no worse for wear. My midwife was awesome, and I’m so glad I was at home and avoided what would have been an unnecessary intervention.

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Esther November 2, 2011 at 2:17 am

I couldn’t help but chuckle. That small face squeezing right out. Cute face.

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Nykita November 2, 2011 at 3:24 am

Wow, I have NEVER seen a baby born like this! That’s amazing! Well done! X

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Alena @ Little Bit Of Wonderful November 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

Wow, what an incredible picture!! That would go in the scrapbook if it were mine. I am pretty sure my husband would have nightmares if he saw this picture, though – we’re pregnant with our first (due late April, early May), and he’s already convinced he will have to stand by my head facing away from the action if he is going to keep it together. I’m still hopeful he’ll catch the baby :) He’s a lot stronger than he thinks; he just comes from a family that thinks birth is gross, more the shame. His parents don’t even want to wait at the hospital – they want to be called once the baby is born and we’re both cleaned up and in bed.

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Karen Johnson November 3, 2011 at 8:16 am

For all those mums feeling bad they had a c-section. I was a face presentation birth in 1969 and nerves in my face were damaged beyond repair, I lost the ability to laugh on one side of my face and cannot blink in one eye. I spend my spare time now trying to raise awareness of facial paralysis. It has not ruined my life and I couldn’t imagine being any different now, but growing up would have been a lot less painful if I could have laughed properly like my friends. If doctors recommend a c-section then go with it, better to live with the regret of having a c-section than the regret of your baby having permanent damage to their face. I’m not saying people should be afraid to deliver naturally, but don’t feel guilty if you had a c-section, you may just have made a life-changing decision for your baby by going with the c-section.

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Maire January 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I remember having being in the hospital for 12 hours and my labour not progressing. My midwife thought I was silly for not wanting to go home as she thought I had come in to early. She then realised that I was face presenting and then I was told had to have an emergency C-section. I was devastated on so many levels. My baby girl was black and blue with a blood shot eye. The picture above is beautiful and I am so happy to know that it is possible to be able to deliver in this position and the comment above has given me another perspective about holding on to guilty feelings.

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Sheila January 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I had my first Son in July 1986,born face first…His nose,mouth,and chin emerged first…they had me preped for a c/s…but he was coming so fast that they decided to deliver him naturally…thank God because I didn’t want to be put to sleep…they didn’t let You be awake like nowdays…His face was a little bruised and swollen but seemed to go away completly in a few days…but other than that,He was and still is healthy and normal…I was only 17 at the time and was told that his birth was very rare…however I had a Daughter in April of 1989 then another Son in April 1990,they we’re liking 8 days from being a year apart,I thought both of them would be born the same way as my first was…but both we’re born natural and in normal position…I also delivered all 3 of my children with no drugs…

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Kellan January 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Go mama, baby, & Kali! Amazing photo, and such a beautiful little girl. I’ve never heard of a face presentation til now, but after reading all the comments, I think I could birth one myself, if the situation arose. However, Karen & others are right: those who had a c/s ought not to beat themselves up over it – you most likely did what you felt was right/needed. Guess what? You were most likely more right than you know. I had the full get-up with my son (epi, episiotomy, pit, & vaccum extraction) – that was almost 4 years ago. I did what I felt was right at that time in my life. Now that I’ve had my daughter 100% naturally (not even an IV), I’ve done a LOT of reading up on the subject & will never go with those things again unless they’re necessary for my baby’s survival. Do I feel guilty? A little. But I also know that I simply didn’t know any better then; I didn’t have any idea that I had options other than a hospital, no idea that labor pain is a GOOD thing, and that my body CAN BIRTH A HUMAN BEING. My daughter gave me all that with her birth. So, mamas, be more understanding of yourselves. You did what you thought was best; who can fault you for that?!

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jennifer m January 4, 2012 at 9:23 pm

My daughter was born face first with her tongue sticking out at the nurse and my dr!!!

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Linda January 5, 2012 at 11:24 am

I can see the emergence being more difficult because of the way the head bones mold, however, and something no one has mentioned so far, I can’t imagine a supine position making things any easier. It seems logical that a freely floating pelvis would help the descent.

Also, how is it exactly that tearing is prevented by a finger being stuck in at the perineum?

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Mrs. BWF January 5, 2012 at 11:30 am

The only position the mother felt comfortable in was like this. It was her choice. I also thought the same thing about the finger, but it was done only at HER request. She had no tearing and VBACed on her terms in the hospital!

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Alyssa January 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Amazing picture! My first son was born face presentation too – lips first. I had to a c-section. One other comment mentioned how beautiful your daughter looked. I thought the same thing! My son looked like Daffy Duck! :) So grateful for healthy babies however they are born!

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Teresa I. January 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm

This happened with my second daughter. I’m glad to hear I wasn’t the only one. The nurses at the time seemed very surprised which kind of freaked me out a bit.

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Alyssa Fritts January 9, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I love it!!!! Oh I can’t wait for another birth!!!!

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deirdre curran March 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm

my last baby was born mentum anterior but wasnt as good. i can send on a picture of his very horrifc birth. it ended in a very e.r. style section. he is 20 months now and has a few marks left on his cheeks. he was 9lb 3oz. im pregnant again and really scared this time.

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Jessica April 8, 2012 at 1:42 am

My second was born face presentation and afterward we did a lot of research on it since we’d never heard of it before. Evidently, if the baby isn’t also posterior, a c-section is necessary because otherwise there is a high risk of the baby being seriously injured. Basically, if you watch how a normal birth takes place, the baby’s neck tilts as it goes around the tail bone, but if the neck is already bent as far as it will go (as with face presentation), it gets stuck. I didn’t have to have a c-section (I got to the hospital 15 minutes before she was born and the nurses delivered!) because my baby was posterior. But if I’d gotten to the hospital any earlier and the doctor had had time to check me, I’m sure he’d have sectioned me. My midwife was out of town. :(

And to whoever said the circumference is the same…not true. The skull bones are made to shrink down and overlap…the face is not. It was incredibly painful to push out that face, especially since the nurses realized it was her face, were afraid she was going to aspirate, and told me to push her out fast! There is no easing out a face like there is with the top of a head. All of you saying this is beautiful and wonderful, I’m just thinking, oh boy, that was painful! I hope I never have a baby in that position again! :) Recovery took about twice as long as it did with my first!

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Bonita-Jo November 29, 2012 at 12:23 am

My daughter was posterior. & it was the most tramatic experiences of my life. It was 6hours of a hard labor that ended with an emergency C-section because of her positioning my OB didnt want to take the chance on a vaginal birth. He also said the chances of a posterior was 1 in 200 (just my luck) not to mention there were a whole lot of complications during the process of my c-section. I would not wish anyone an experience like that.

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blessed mama January 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Thank you for your stories; they’re helping me to heal. I delivered my face presentation boy 6 days ago as a c-section. I’ve been struggling with how to process it. Two years ago I delivered my daughter quickly and without drugs; after an identical pregnancy I fully anticipated the same process. I was excited. I arrived at the hospital 7/8cm dilated and progressed quickly. My OB (who also delivered my first) asked the nurses to not help me push yet as she still needed to get her gloves on and was convinced I’d only need to push a few times. That was exactly how I envisioned everything. Then the entire experience changed. She let me push through two contractions, checked his position, let me push two more times, and then told me she was so sorry, I needed a c-section. I wanted to collapse. I had planned on no drugs; I was given an epidural that didn’t work fast enough and then general anesthesia. I woke up in an empty room with two nurses. Then I cried. But my husband came in with a picture of our baby, our healthy baby, and now we’re all home and we’re ok. God sees every mama. God sees every baby. He knows us before we enter the womb. Love and pain are dancing together a little differently this time, but I am thankful for everything I have and for God’s gracious hand. I have a husband, I have a daughter, I have a son, I am rich.

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Savanna March 26, 2013 at 6:06 pm

This is an amazing photograph!

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Nina Nelson March 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm

That first picture is one of the coolest pictures I’ve ever seen. Thanks for sharing!

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Karrie March 26, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Oh my goodness! This picture says so much!! I can’t get over the little babe’s tongue sticking out, as if to say “nah nah nah boo boo! I will come out how I want” LOL

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kate March 26, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Oh my, that is the cutest squishy face ever!! What an amazing photo – definitely a great moment to capture

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Kim Robinson May 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

there is a difference between face presentation and brow – a true brow presentation will very very rarely birth vaginally ,often babies born face first will be born fine . My 3rd child was born face first at 10lbs he suffered quite bad head & facial bruising which led to severe jaundice but the birth itself was ok :)

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Laurie May 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

My daughter had a face presentation with her 5th baby. Her first four were born at home and all during her labor we could tell something was different. When the midwife realized what was happening, she called another midwife and they decided to transport. That whole thing was very scary but when we got to the hospital, an OB stuck her head in the room and said prep the OR, but an RN talked to her and she said this is your fifth? You can do this! Now next contraction, push with all you’ve got. She did and out he came. He had a perfect little purple circle bruise around his mouth and nose. It went away quickly and he was perfect. Whew. She has a picture very similar to the one above. Simply amazing.

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Judi W May 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I’ve seen 2 face presentations. My first assist was a face , and as primary I transferred my SIL to the hospital where she had an epidermal and birthed vaginally. Tough labors YEAh Momma!

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