Shelley Dobbin’s breech birth:
Oh my GOSH! The birth was so incredible! After having a really painful first birth with 3rd degree tearing, an unnecessary cut (episiotomy) and 13 stitches it felt SO GOOD to birth without tearing. This time I birthed on my hands and knees which really helped to get our baby out. (I wish I birthed our first baby this way). I really don’t know why I didn’t film the birth, or at least take photos! Silly me!
Before I share the birth story, I must share this first:
At my 37 week antenatal (before birth) appointment, my Midwife noticed that our baby was in the breech position. (Bum-down, instead of the more common head-down position). My Midwife had to consult with the doctors who wanted to perform an External Cephalic Version (ECV) on me. An ECV is a procedure in which doctors use their hands on your tummy to try to manually turn the baby into a head-down (cephalic) position. I asked A LOT of questions about the procedure and went to my parent’s house to use their internet to read all about an ECV, vaginal breech delivery and Cesarean risks.
I ended up booking the External Cephalic Version. (Looking back now, I wish I didn’t. I wish I had’ve been totally content about the breech position that our baby was obviously comfortable in).
I was EXTREMELY nervous about the procedure and regret having it done. It hurt, it felt so un-natural and the doctors gave me a bloody drug which was supposed to make my uterus relax! I feel so guilty for having that drug. It made me get all panicky! My heart was palpatating EXTREMELY fast and I felt like my head and body were separate to each other.
The ECV failed. They moved Baby Dobbin into a head-down position, but our baby immediately turned its body all the way back into the breech position. It felt so strange!
The doctors (all 3 of them) apologised that it didn’t work, then handed me a Cesarean brochure with all the risk factors that come with having a Caserean. Then they left the room leaving Wes and I all alone so that we could discuss how we were feeling.
I began to cry and cry! I was NOT going to book a Cesarean! I would never book one! I would have an emergency one if truly needed, but I could not believe how medicalised our modern world has gotten that I wasn’t even encouraged to at least TRY to birth my breech baby! I wanted a trial of labour! What the heck was the harm in that!!?
Now this is the moment I will NEVER forget…
A Midwife entered the room to check on me and saw me crying. I was lying there telling Wes that I really wanted a natural labour and birth again! The Midwife’s name was Linda and she brought me a box of tissues to wipe my many tears. She listened to EVERYTHING I was saying, even through all my tears, anger and frustration. I told her there was NO WAY I was going to elect to have a C-Section for breech. Linda was great! She totally understood. She believed in me and she believed in the breech position!
One of the doctors came back into the room and told me that he could book in a Cesarean for a weeks time. I told him I refused to do so. I cannot believe that is how most women are treated in pregnancy these days! I am just so thankful that I chose to be cared for by Midwives! All the Midwives I spoke to about my hopes for a vaginal breech birth were wonderful. (Even the Midwives who had never seen a breech birth before).
Linda, you met me at the most perfect time. You told me that I definitely was not crazy and that a vaginal breech birth was VERY possible. Thank you so much for believing and trusting in natural birth!
I will now share the story of how my labour and birth went……
“I think baby had decided it’s time”, I said to Wes at 4:00am on 10th February 2009.
I was SO EXCITED! I decided to get up out of bed and start moving around (as I now knew just how important moving around in labour was). I didn’t move around enough with my first birth and this time I wanted to prevent tearing as much as possible.
I took a nice hot shower. The hot water on my lower back helped ease my contractions. After my shower, I knew that I didn’t want to leave the house in a mess, so I began to do the dishes that I regretted leaving from the night before. I had to keep stopping and squatting on the floor each time a contraction came.
I then decided to bring the washing in. Doing normal, everyday tasks helped in passing the time and it also helped me to remain calm and positive.
Wes got up at 6:00am and this is the time when labour started progressing a lot quicker and the contractions were getting closer together. We got our daughter Skye ready (who was 21 months old at the time and had only just learned how to walk). I told Skye that her baby brother or sister was on its way and that we were going to take her to her Nanna and Grandad’s house.
Wes could see that the contractions were getting more difficult to handle, so he suggested we should go to the Birth Centre (at Lyell McEwin Hospital). But I knew that waiting around at home as long as possible was the BEST thing to do, especially having experienced arriving at hospital too early for our first baby’s birth.
I held out as long as I could. I spent a lot of time on my hands and knees on the couch. I needed to be alone, so Wes went out the front and started to water the garden and told me to let him know when I wanted to leave. (I think he thought we should leave right away, but I trusted my body and was listening out for signals of when was the best time to leave).
At around 8:15 am we dropped Skye off at my Mum and Dad’s house. I walked in their front door and a strong contraction came. I had to get down on the floor on my hands and knees and sway my hips from side to side to help me cope. It was getting really, really tough.
My Dad looked worried and helpless. He is such a great Dad and has always been so caring. I could tell he really didn’t like seeing me in pain, but I reassured him that I would be fine. It’s a natural pain, which is a pain that is meant to happen for a reason. A pain with true purpose! I kept remaining positive and reminded myself of some birth affirmations which I had read in “The Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence”:
- My body knows how to give birth
- I’m strong and powerful
- The work I’m doing is important
- Women have been doing this work forever
I had also learned that we are not meant to suffer in labour. I knew that the best thing I could do was to respond to my contractions. Walking, changing positions, swaying my hips and breathing through it helps so much better than lying down and feeling tortured by them.
Childbirth is normal. It’s not a disease like so many doctors out there treat it.
We arrived at the Birth Centre at 9:00am and as I slowly got out the car, holding onto Wes’ hand a Midwife spotted me in the carpark and immediately helped me. (What would we do without Midwives)? I told the Midwife that my baby was in the breech position and she took me through to the Women’s Assessment Unit to check how dilated my cervix was. (I could have gone straight to the Birth Centre to be checked, but the Assessment Unit was right next to where we parked our car).
I was already 6cm dilated and getting VERY excited to meet our baby! We were thinking of the name “Rory” for a boy, and possibly “Kayla” for a girl. It didn’t matter to us what sex the baby was.
Wes and I headed to the Birth Centre, which I was excited about because I LOVE a lot of their views on birth. Whilst walking down the hall, I had to keep stopping between contractions and hold onto the wall. (The Midwife had offered me a wheelchair, but I said no thanks as I truly knew how important it was to keep active during labour and birth). I knew it would be best for my baby and I to keep walking, moving, swaying and keeping my mind real positive.
At the Birth Centre, the lovely Aine (pronounced “onya”) greeted me. I had already met her and loved her! She seemed very excited about my breech birth and so was I.
I didn’t let fear enter my mind. I filled my head with confidence and really believed I could do it. I felt so great for being patient and waiting for labour to start on it’s own. (Instead of booking the elective C-Section which I had been “advised” to do).
I told Aine that I wanted to get straight into the shower. I really craved the hot water on my lower back. So, I took all my clothes off, not caring what anyone in the room thought. (With my first birth I kept my clothes on and I wished I hadn’t). This time, it felt great to be freely naked! It was a real “letting go and not worrying about anything” moment for me. I was keeping my mind extremely positive as I truly believe that you can make your labour and birth far more easier to manage if you have a strong and positive mindset. It is so important to not let any fear take over you. (That’s what happened to me with my first birth… I let fear take over which resulted in an extremely difficult and painful labour and birth). This time was going to be different. I just knew it! I was working so hard to make it an amazing experience!
I stayed in the shower and Aine, Linda and Wes were so fantastic! They let me do my thing, but were very supportive at the same time. They knew the importance of being there for me, but not getting in my way when I was concentrating on each contraction.
I felt the urge to push in the shower… the warm water really relaxed me and helped me to deal with each contraction (I really don’t know how I managed my first birth without the use of warm water)! No wonder this second birth was easier to deal with! I felt the need to get onto my hands and knees, but I didn’t want to do that on the hard shower floor so Aine and Wes helped me out and I rushed to the bed and got up onto my hands and knees there. (I had researched that this was the best possible position for a breech delivery on land). A water birth would be the best type of birth for a breech baby, I believe.
WOW!!! I remember being amazed by how different it felt to be on my hands and knees compared to my first birth where I lay flat on my back. I felt so much more open being on my hands and knees. I rested between contractions by putting my head face-down in a pillow. (As it was getting too tiring to support my body up with my arms).
PUSH, PUSH, PUSH…… Oh wow, it was hard work, but our baby’s bum was appearing! (At this time some student Midwives entered the room, because I gave permission for anyone to watch). It is so rare these days in Australia that a breech birth is seen. Especially a planned one. Sadly, most breech babies end up being born by Cesarean. (Even if the mother doesn’t want to have a Cesarean for breech. Often, women are talked into booking a Section for a breech baby). People are losing faith and trust in the birth process and are no longer willing to have a trial of labour for breech.
“YES……….. I CAN DO IT, I CAN DO IT!!!!!”
I was pushing with ALL MY MIGHT and I could feel baby’s bum come out! How exciting!! It felt so great and being in the position I was in was working wonders on getting the body through nicely. (I had my bum facing the Midwives and Wes. I’m sure it was quite a sight! Not that I cared and I know they didn’t either! It was important that I did whatever I needed to get the baby out.)
There were excited gasps from Wes and the Midwives who were watching as our baby’s bum came out, followed by his balls that dropped out quickly! (Yes, BALLS….. we had a BOY)! (Wes later told me that Rory’s bum got so compressed that his first poo got squeezed out of him on his way out. I am just trying to picture it. I think it would have been funny to see)!
My body was telling me to wait a bit… and I got a chance to take a deep breath and build up a bit more energy for some more pushing. With the next contraction I pushed his torso out and then there was another pause and I could stop and take a breath. (His head was still inside but I needed this time to rest). The next contraction came and I DID THE HUGEST PUSHES EVER and his head came out. (All this time my Midwife Aine was encouraging me that I was doing great and that baby was doing great too. She didn’t touch Rory as he was coming out. She let Rory and I do our thing). A breech baby should never be tugged or pulled on. She of course caught him gently and passed him through my legs to me after they had given him a bit of oxygen. It didn’t take long at all. Rory looked great and was crying with nice strong lungs! Wes and I were so thrilled that it all went just as we had wanted and hoped! I DID IT! I birthed him all by myself!
I was on a high and it felt so freaking amazing! I really felt so in love with this new boy of ours! I looked at Wes and smiled one of the biggest smiles I ever have. This was the most incredible feeling in the world! Such a euphoric kind of feeling… I am searching for the right kind of words to describe it, but no words will ever truly be able to describe the joy and the lovey, dovey mood I was in! I had never felt more incredible in my life! I know I am repeating myself a lot, but thinking back to this day and re-playing it all in my head makes me so excited!
“Have you got a name for him?” asked Aine “Rory”, said both Wes and I. “Rory Jay”. I was most excited that Wes now had a son! He didn’t mind what we had, but something about having a boy just made me fall in love with the idea of lots of Daddy and son bonding moments that I began to melt with happiness!
Aine & Linda both said they really liked the name Rory. It’s an Irish name and Aine is from Ireland. And Linda hadn’t heard it used in a while. (Being a Midwife they would hear lots of the same names on a daily basis)!
Oh my! Rory’s face looked perfect! What I mean is, because he was born bum-first, his head didn’t get all squashed up like Skye’s head did in our first birth. Midwives that visited our room in the days after Rory’s birth could tell that he was born breech due to his head shape (and his bruised bum).
Wes and I were so happy! And I couldn’t wait for my parents and brother to bring our little Skye in to meet her new baby brother! I was getting so excited about them meeting each other that it was making me want to cry! I was the happiest I could ever be!
Rory…… I am in love with you! You light up our life and I will treasure forever the day you entered our lives! I still giggle that you decided to come out showing your bum and balls first, before your head. Nice work Rory! I could go on forever about how much we all love you! Here’s to a beautiful life together as a new family…..
We chose to leave our son intact (didn’t circumcise him) as we believe that he was born the way he was for a reason – God intended him that way. It didn’t bother us that he wouldn’t look “the same” as other men in the family. The decision to leave our boy intact was an easy one to make. Why cut part of his body off and put him through such traumatic pain for no medical reason?
I am SO GLAD that I trusted that God made me to be able to birth my babies myself. I truly trusted in Him, my body and my baby and the end result was incredible! I am so thrilled that I didn’t ‘book in’ a C-Sections like the doctors, my family and friends recommended!