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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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Paula July 13, 2011 at 10:50 pm

That picture is awesome. It’s crazy how flexible they are when they are fresh. the fetal position for her is something totally different!

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Melanie July 14, 2011 at 10:45 am

Amy, what a great story! I can’t believe I didn’t know about that until now. Congratulations again!

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Jon July 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I am Emery’s father, and this was an amazing experience for me, too. I just wanted to add that Emery wanted to hold her legs up in that position for days following her birth. She winced in pain if you tried to straighten them. After two sessions of Network Spinal Analysis, a light touch chiropractic technique, she fully relaxed into a more “normal” position. It made me a believer in energy work. Give it a try. Amazing results.

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Melissa Hill July 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm

THank you for sharing your story. I clicked thru from a friend’s post on FB about it. This friend (of a friend) was who introduced me to dr. Tate when I was weeks away from my due date. I was pregnant with twins, both frank breech. I was devastated…until I met doc t! I live in Alabama and drove over to meet him at 37 weeks. I successful delivered (possibly in the very same OR) at 39 weeks my breech twins vaginally and unmedicated. He is a gift to us. (though his internal exams are awful.) I am so grateful for him. I too, had a team of students and interns and was grateful to be sharing this experience with future doctors. Congrats on your birth!!!!

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Jon July 14, 2011 at 10:01 pm
Annette July 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Amy!! That story brings back so many beautiful memories. I feel so blessed to be a part of it. Your family is beautiful and your story has the power to inspire others.

Blessings

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Zhandra July 16, 2011 at 11:17 am

Haha that photo makes me giggle so much :D Awesome story, and the idea of the baby hanging out in breech position on the outside really just cracks me up for some reason.

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watingforanaturalbirth July 19, 2011 at 2:19 pm

This is a beautiful experience! I had my baby last year via c-section. I had a Doula my entire pregnancy motivating me to have a natural non-medicated birth. My heart sank when my OB told @ 28 weeks that I was going to have to have her by cutting my boby open and taking every natural thing away from having the birth experience I so longed for… He said she would not move. I had only gained 8lbs my entire pregnancy b/c of msickness. I did EVERYTHING I could to get my baby to turn. No damn luck. My OB scared me so bad when he told me the things that could happen while giving birth to a Frank breech baby. I was mortified. Needless to say I had a horrible experience. I violently jerked from the spinal block. I could not even hold my baby!!! I just had to lay there and listen to her cry. All I wanted to do was hold and kiss her. I wanted her to hear MY voice first. I got a glimpse of her oand that was all I could do for the first hour because I was shaking/jerking for about an hour. I feel like I was waiting for this huge climax/birth and it was as if I had prepared for it for 9 months and it was an eventual anti-climax. A loss of my womanhood. Two days after we left the hospital I started violently jerking. Post-partum preeclamsia…My blood pressure was 166/144. I had to ruch to the ER where I was put in ICU for two LONG excruciating days!! My Baby girl was not with me!!!! They would not move me to a postpartum room. Finally after being in so much pain from my c-section and them not letting me takee my pain meds, I was sent home. I suffered from ppdepression and am still battling. My hope now is to have a successful natural vbac. One day soon. IT WILL heal my soul. This is an encouragement to a mommy who almost lost hope. Thank you!

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Shelly H. July 20, 2011 at 11:37 pm

That picture is worth a million words :-) Simply amazing!!

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Rhonda Tombros July 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Hi all
I recently gave birth to my breech baby vaginally in Melbourne, Australia. It was a very stressful time for me – eventually we found a private obstetrician who would help me but that did mean a lot of compromises about my ideas on natural birthing. If anybody is 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 stories? It is called Breech Birth Australia
Best wishes
Rhonda

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Jay August 22, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I loved Dr. Tate when he delivered my baby three weeks ago. He was supportive of all of our birthing decisions. No drugs, no interventions- all natural. He even brought in the interns to watch- who were all shocked at the level of noise I wasn’t making while in labor.

I recommend Dr. Tate to everyone I meet who is having a baby. I have since I started seeing him. I will continue to recommend him to everyone I know who is having a baby- especially VBAC and those who want a natural birth.

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Daja October 29, 2011 at 11:18 am

LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT!

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Ash October 29, 2011 at 3:57 pm

My baby girl who is now 12 weeks old, was a frank breech baby. Not knowing she was breech, my birth plan was to have her drug free and all naturally at a birthing center using hypnobirthing. I spent 4 months practicing the technique. When I was 41 weeks and not showing any signs of progression, my mid wife sent me in to get an ultrasound. Surprise! She was frank breech and my fluids were low. There was nothing they could do. I went in that night for the scheduled c-section. Although I was happy she was finally here, I felt like she was taken from me. I felt like I had betrayed her because instead of the gentle, no pushing, water birth I wanted to bring her into this world with, she was pulled out of me upside down by her tiny waist. I was going to let her cord stop pulsing before it was cut and let her skin absorb the natural moisturizers she was born with instead of being scrubbed off with a rough towel right away. She had bright lights beaming right into her delicate little eyes that have never seen light before. She was bound tightly with blankets instead of placed on my chest for immediate skin on skin bonding. What a horrible way to be born.. I am so happy that there is a doctor out there that supports mother’s wishes. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing.

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Nicole November 2, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Truly amazing!

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Andrea November 10, 2011 at 12:51 am

What an awesome story. And I also want to thank you for allowing the medical residents to be present to observe the birth — breech delivery is becoming such a lost skill of doctors these days that to the extent there can be a next generation of doctors who have learned how to do it, it will be a positive for other women like you.

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Lana January 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Melissa Hill, I was wondering if there was any way to contact you…we just found out we are having twins, and currently the first is breech and the second breech/transverse…the docs around here won’t even consider allowing me a vaginal delivery but through our Bradley instructor we heard “about” Dr. Tate and are planning to meet him. I would love to chat with you.

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Vita March 31, 2012 at 10:24 am

Wow, a great story! Very happy to see one more mum able to give birth the way she wanted :)

My first baby arrived breech as well, except that noone knew about it :) The midwife found out at the moment when instead of the head out came the bum :))) I was at the midwife-led unit, which made the birth all the easier, as I was active throughout the labour and gave birth semi-squatting (which helps to open up pelvis fully). There wasn’t even a bed in the room! Anyway, really respect the author of this story for doing it laying down on an operating table – it’s one of the most difficult positions to give birth (and breech at that)! Well done!!!

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Melanie January 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Amy and Jon, you guys just rock! I love when you share your stories. Many blessings to you, the family, and your practice.

Mel

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Aimee January 31, 2013 at 7:45 am

What an awesome story. I’m also a mom who exclusively carries breech babies. There aren’t practitioners in my area who deliver breech, so I agreed to a CS the first time and will be having a RCS this time. But I also found out I have other factors that lead to the breech position in the first place.

Anyway, what I wanted to say was the best part of this for me is that Dr. Tate was educating the residents and interns. That is what will create a new generation of doctors who are capable of delivering breech babies and giving women like us more options!

Congrats on a beautiful baby and empowering birth story!

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Steph Margist September 1, 2013 at 9:06 pm

Wow what a great birth story. Isn’t birth amazing expecially when you are holding the reins! I felt so empowerd after my natural birth like a goddess.

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tallya February 26, 2014 at 5:54 pm

I had a frank breech baby at home with a midwife. The breech presentation was a surprise to us all and I am so thankful because my baby was born gently and safely at home :)

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