A Frank Breech Birth: Faith of an OB and Mother

by Birth Without Fear on July 13, 2011

This is the birth story of Emery Elizabeth by Amy A. Elliot, D.C.

I was lucky to have a very healthy and happy first pregnancy. Pregnancy did not slow me down from my busy life in chiropractic school, and I continued to see patients and attend classes up to the very end.

The only concern that plagued me was that my baby presented in frank breech position and stayed there starting in the second trimester. I tried every alternative that I knew of to coerce the baby to turn: chiropractic, acupuncture, swimming, playing classical music by my pubic bone, ice, inversion tables, positive visualization…you name it.

Resigned to the fact that the baby might choose not to turn, I discussed my options with my midwife and was horrified to find out that my ONLY option in that practice was a c-section. I felt so frustrated upon hearing this news since I had worked so hard to keep my body tuned up and create a natural, healthy environment for my baby.

All of a sudden one day, the universe answered my call. Three weeks prior to the birth, all roads lead me to Dr. Tate. A friend of a friend had used him when encountering the same situation, a classmate had worked with him, my chiropractor, doula and midwife all told me about him. It took almost three weeks to get an appointment.

After my lengthy visit with Dr. Tate, I felt renewed knowing that there was someone willing to let me do this on my terms, provided that circumstances proved it to be safe. Dr. Tate was very thorough in explaining potential benefits and disadvantages of vaginal breech delivery. This appointment took place on a Tuesday.

The next morning at 7AM I had a HUGE graduation-determining exam at school that I was firmly resolved to take. It was technically one week prior to my due date. I had been communicating with the baby that I needed to get through this test before giving birth, or I would be stuck in school for an extra quarter. When I woke up, I felt a little extra groggy, but I got up and took the test. The exam took the entire morning to complete. Upon completion, I gave the baby permission to be born at any time s/he wanted!

After that, I headed out to run errands that I’d been putting off until after the exam…things I needed to do to prepare for the baby’s arrival. As I went about my business, I noticed an achy low back pain, but figured that it was related to stress and my changing physique. For some reason, urinating seemed to relieve the pain. A few hours later I noticed that the back pain would disappear completely for a few minutes and return a little while later. I called two friends who had recently given birth to ask if they experienced anything like this the week leading up to labor. I followed it up with a call to my mom who told me to expect that the baby was coming sooner than later. It was a week before my “due date”, but I’m late for everything, so I didn’t expect this to be any different.

After I got home I had dinner with my husband (Jon) and a friend who were working on some home improvements. After the friend left, I asked Jon to take an updated pregnancy photo to send to my parents. Within this time, the back pain picked up a bit, so I decided to take a bath to see if it would offer any relief. It was at this point that I finally accepted that I might actually be in labor.

Since I’d only met Dr. Tate less than 48 hours before, I still hadn’t registered to give birth at that hospital (my midwife worked out of a different hospital where I’d pre-registered). A friend came over and picked up our registration and faxed it to the hospital. About an hour after the bath, Jon called the doula to let her know what was going on.

At this point I’d been lying on the bed, trying to sleep in between the contractions. They were sporadic in length, and they weren’t spaced evenly either. She suggested taking another bath to see if that triggered things to take off, and it did. We eventually called Dr. Tate at 2AM. Unfortunately, due to the test anxiety (my husband was also a student), we hadn’t prepared for going into labor early. We still had to pack our bags and make sure that we had everything.

We finally arrived at the hospital at 4AM. When Dr. Tate arrived, I was 4 cm dilated. When he checked me, my water broke on it its own, and things really seemed to take off from there. Shortly thereafter, my doula (Annette) arrived. Dr. Tate told me that if I wanted to accomplish this birth vaginally that my job was to push the baby out to the torso by myself. There was pain, but I’ll admit that it wasn’t as bad as what I’d built it up to be in my imagination! Jon and Annette were the perfect balance to guide me throughout the birth experience.

I’d been working through contractions in triage and was moved to labor and delivery. To get through the painful contractions, I kept saying out loud “My body knows what to do!” It was important for me to acknowledge that my body was designed to do this. As part of my agreement with Dr. Tate, I couldn’t push until being moved to the OR, just in case of emergency. In my mind, I was in labor and delivery for no more than five minutes. The contractions came hard, and I felt so ready to push. It was extremely challenging to wait to push. At this point, Jon and I were both so grateful to have Annette there to help give me breathing tips so I could refocus as I was transferred to the OR.

Frank Breech Birth

There were a number of medical residents present to assist and observe in the birth. I was moved to an operating table and lying on my back. I pushed for 20-25 minutes total. In my brain, I concocted all sorts of stories prior to labor that this would be extra painful due to the breech position. Sometimes it is beneficial to have an overactive imagination, because it never got as bad as I’d imagined! Also, by the time I got to push the head out, it felt like nothing. Even in my state of exhaustion, I could hear Dr. Tate in the background educating the interns and the assisting resident on what he was doing. The nerd in me appreciated the fact that this birth was a learning experience for myself AND others!

hospital breech birth

Just shy of two hours from arriving at the hospital, applause was heard from the observers in the room, and I learned that I’d had a baby girl (which was a great surprise as everyone had been predicting a boy). She was immediately put to my chest, and Annette helped facilitate her to latch on. Jon cut the umbilical cord. Then we waited for what seemed like an eternity while my third degree tear was stitched up (Jon claimed that it was twice as long as the actual delivery).

Frank Breech Vaginal Birth

Emery is a happy, healthy baby, and after a few weeks she stopped kicking her legs up over her head all the time (as if she were in breech position).

I am forever grateful to Dr. Tate for giving me the opportunity to have this baby on my terms with no epidural or other interventions, and I’m grateful to my body for letting me!

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