An Informed and Educated Breech Birth

by Birth Without Fear on July 12, 2011

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!

Frank Breech Birth

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……

Breech Birth

“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!

Frank Breech Birth

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!

Breech Birth

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…..

Frank Breech Birth

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!

Frank Breech Birth

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary July 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Great job, momma! Your story is so powerful! Way to listen to your gut too. It’s amazing that Linda came in to your life at that exact moment. xo

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Gina July 12, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Wonderful story! Thanks so much for sharing. More people need to know that carrying a breech baby should not be a reason for planning a C-section. As long as the mother and baby are doing fine let birth progress as it was intended. Interventions should be for emergencies only.

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Wendy Semyck July 12, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Wonderful and empowering birthing story!

Way to go Mom, Dad, and baby Rory!

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Bobbie Hardy July 13, 2011 at 12:04 am

My niece with her first baby, went to the hospital in labor, and they apparently didn’t know the baby was breech. She arrived in delivery and when they saw the bum, they immediately gave her drugs to stop the labor and pulled her in for a section. They told her the baby was stressed because the bum was starting to come out and she was pooping. (Which I understand is very normal) It so made me mad that they stopped her labor to cut her open and take the baby. If they had given her a few minutes she would have birthed that baby normally, naturally without meds. Instead they had to intervene, like she couldn’t have done it!! So glad you chose to do it naturally!!

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Wendy July 13, 2011 at 9:22 am

I love you!! I have never met you but just read your story today… WOW! You are truly an inspiration!! These days all you hear is “oh Breach baby? C-section!” it’s disappointing!! woman, it seems (and i hate to lump them all into one sentence) don’t know or trust their bodies anymore! thank you thank you for sharing. I will remember your story, and when my day comes if my baby decides to be breech – i will trust God, my body and baby to know what to do!!

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Ashley July 13, 2011 at 9:37 am

This is truely an amazing and powerful story! I LOVED reading it since you were so good at making me feel like I was there. Im currently in the process of becoming a birth doula and being able to invision this like I was there was so exciting! Awesome job to you and your baby boy!

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Natasha Hall July 13, 2011 at 10:52 am

GREAT JOB!!!

I wish I would have been more informed with my daughter. At 41 weeks when I was refusing to be induced my ONGYN ordered an ultrasound and non stress test. They found that she was breech, wouldn’t let me leave the hospital to get my stuff together for fear that I would go into labor (I hadn’t had a SINGLE contraction) and scheduled my C-Section for when my OB came on call. No choices, no options…. and I was absolutely NOT ready for major abdominal surgery. My husband had just started a new job and had to return back to work after baby was born :(
I had to fight sooo hard for my VBAC with my son. But I did a ton of research and my 2nd birth was similar to yours (without him being breech). I trusted my body… what it was meant to do… no fears… I did birth in water and also found that being on my hands and knees was the most comfortable. While laboring at home I moved freely and did normal things to take care of my daughter. It was the most natural beautiful thing I have ever experienced… and I DID IT!!! :)
Were planning baby # 3 now ;)

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Atlanta Birth Center July 13, 2011 at 11:02 am

Thank you for sharing this amazing story! It will inspire and help inform :) ~Amy for Atlanta Birth Center

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Nev July 13, 2011 at 11:03 am

Wow, great story and good to hear you stuck to your guns and did it your way. I wish I had midwives like you had because none I spoke to wanted to let me have my breech baby naturally and I wasn’t even allowed labour.

Next time I know more and will refuse any unnecessary intervention.

Congrats on your beautiful boy. :)

Nev

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Rhonda Tombros July 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Hi Nev
I recently gave birth to my breech baby vaginally. If you are interested, I am trying to start a support group of women who have had breech babies, ultimately to help women who have yet to give birth. It is still in its very early days so at this stage we just have a Facebook Group. Perhaps you would like to join us and share your birth story? It is called Breech Birth Australia
Best wishes
Rhonda

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Kimberly July 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm

This story made me tear up! One of my biggest fears is having a breech baby (baby #2 stayed breech until about 33 weeks) and having what I believe is an unnecessary c-section. You did fantastic and what an amazing story!

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Trishell July 13, 2011 at 10:19 pm

You are amazing!!! What courage and strength you have in God. I applause you and am just in tears of joy for your very in lighting encouragement for breach births. I love this story thank you for sharing it!!! May God keep you and bless your family!!!

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Shelley July 24, 2011 at 1:32 am

Thanks so much for all the beautiful words everyone! :-)
It truly was the most amazing experience of my life and I am so glad I trusted in my baby and my body :-)
If anything I just hope that people realise that we DO have a CHOICE when it comes to our births!
No-one else can choose for us and the “medical experts” don’t always have our best interests at heart, sadly :-(

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Ana Watkins August 20, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Beautiful birth story! Well done mama, for trusting your body and God’s plans for you and your sweet baby boy!

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Jodie August 21, 2011 at 1:13 am

Beautiful Story guys!! I have had all my births (3) fully natural with no pain relief or intervention, all my births were less than 5 hrs in labour with the shortest only 1.5 hrs, and boy does it make you feel so wonderful!!
A lady at my church has 5 kids, her first 4 were all born breech!! To me this proves its fully natural and there is no reason in interfere, Gods plan is bigger than ours :)
Thanks for sharing x

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Green Mommy September 23, 2011 at 8:52 am

Thank you for your inspirational story! We are planning #2 and the more I read, the more I want to have a drug free, 100% natural birth at home. With #1 I planned to go without an epi, but the doctors pushed the drugs anyway, which sent me into a tailspin of problems. The next time around I’m getting a midwife or a doula!
You did a fantastic job and I love your story! Sharing!

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Annie September 23, 2011 at 11:31 am

Awesome, thank you for sharing your story. So happy for you that you believed in yourself even with the Dr’s coming at you telling you to do a C!! Beautiful story, I’m a little buzzed just from reading it. :)
(and I’m happy for Rory he got to stay intact!)

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Najwa January 26, 2012 at 9:14 am

Wow! This story is truly amazing! I’ve actually seen a breech birth at my birth center but I always found it amazing that the doctors don’t even bother to try. Most of the reasons women say they got c-sections is due to breech position. I love how informed you were to follow your instincts on this! Congrats!

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Cristy February 11, 2012 at 5:13 am

I just loved reading your story.
As a mum to three children all of c sections I wish I was given the option to try and deliver my kids. I was forced into the first c section as my baby was breech but after having my baby the doctors realized that she was 5 weeks early and she had to be tube fed and stay in hospital for two weeks. The tops of her ears hadn’t formed either.. All this from the incorrect date on a scan that forced me into surgery to early. After the first c section my two following children where also breech but I was then also told that it isn’t safe to give birth to breech babies so I had to again have another two c sections. After all this drama the doctors told me that because I have had three c sections due to breech babies I was to have my tubes tied as my scar could rupture. I am now 24 with three children 5,2 and 10 month old and thanks to the doctors making me have all my kids by c section I have my tubes tide and can no longer have any more. You are an inspiration to young mums and we should all take a good look at how great you have done and learn to trust our own bodies. Xx

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Celia February 11, 2012 at 5:15 am

Great to hear your story!!
My first bub was C-section (placenta previa). My second was VBAC, thanks to a great OBGYN to give me the chance. Our 3rd was breech natural. Was a little scary considering the hospital was non breech philosophy re natural, we delivered in 10-15 mins, hubby passed out and we had all midwives observing… pretty rare..lol I think my OBGYN knew our bub was breech but I didn’t want a cesarian and kept it under his hat.
Thanks again for your story, took me down memory lane!

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Sheleana February 11, 2012 at 5:35 am

such a beautiful and powerful story, thank you so much for sharing your experience with us all. I have no children yet, and no plans in the near future, but I absolutely love hearing from women like you who take such an empowering and loving approach to natural birth. So many women don’t start researching birth and facing the “fears” of birth until they are pregnant. I’m learning so much by exploring natural birth and realizing also how much personal work I need to do to be ready to have an experience like yours, and allow my baby to come into this world naturally. You’re so inspiring, good for you for learning from your first experience and using that as a catalyst to be in your power for your next birth. I felt so much emotion as I read your story, thank you. *hugs* Love S

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sue barker February 13, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Awesome Shelly, what a strong, positive & brave girl you were. Congratulations.

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sue barker February 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Sorry darlin, I’ve just realised I spelt your name incorrectly. Your story made me tear up…! You were amazing!

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Lisa April 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Reading this has me feeling so empowered. I am due in 3 weeks with a baby who his heads up and am planning a vaginal birth assisted by midwives. The adversity we have received can be so disheartening. It is stories like yours that confirm my belief that we will do this. The right way ♥ Thank you ♥

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Shelley Dobbin (Beautiful Birth) July 3, 2013 at 5:57 am

Hi Lisa! :-)
Thanks so much! Only just noticed your comment, 3 months after you had posted it. How was your birth? :-)

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Charlotte Toffolo September 20, 2013 at 3:22 am

Hi,
Thankyou for sharing your story. It made me cry. I was told at 34 weeks my baby was breech which devastated me. Then at 36 weeks I was told it was head down- I was thrilled because I want a natural water birth. Yesterday at my 38 week check the midwife tells me oh dear we were mistaken, you need a scan as the baby appears to in fact be breech. Off I go to the hospital where I am told yes the baby is bum down. I have been told to attend again today for a consultation with a Doctor to give me my options. I feel alone and unsupported because C-section is the most common ‘option’ and it is my worst nightmare. I am praying hard God gives me the strength to stick to my convictions, my first baby WILL turn in time and if it doesn’t I want the chance to give birth naturally…. fingers crossed I get the opportunity and am not forced into something I will regret. Medics take a lot of the joy out of pregnancy! :(

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Shelley Dobbin (Beautiful Birth) January 12, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Hi Charlotte!

How did everything go for you? I can’t believe I have only just seen your message now, 4 months later. Hope everything is well with you!

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