A Footling Breech Homebirth With Pictures

by Birth Without Fear on August 9, 2011

This birth story is nothing short of amazing. However, it is this mom’s story and she made choices she felt were best for her and her baby. If you have a breech baby, please note there are different complications that can arise. Many babies will turn in time for birth, but some remain breech. Talk with your care provider about the risks and benefits regarding a cesarean or vaginal birth.

A bit of background to my birth {by Tracy}.

I went for a scan at just before 38 weeks, which showed the baby lying in an unstable lie transverse/breech. His head was under my right ribs and bottom left hand side while either one or two feet dangled into my pelvis. I knew if I was at a hospital that I would be urged to have an elective c-section pretty much immediately as my last two children came at 38 weeks.

I was a bit upset at first but I had some time to pull it together and I ended up going to see someone to try some cranial sacral work to move baby. She told me baby was reluctant to move and didn’t trust me even though I thought I could birth this way. She said I needed to forget about my other children for that moment and try to connect with my child to move him into a better position. I had to agree that I had not really had much time to connect as I was busy with my other two.

I tried exercises, inversions, reflexology and taking baths submerged lying on my stomach and sometimes I would think he had moved but then be quickly disappointed to feel feet in my pelvis again. I was suggested to to try some osteo or acupuncture to turn him, but by this stage I had accepted his position so stopped trying. I didn’t want to waste my energy being disappointed, but actually redirect it to be able to birth this baby footling breech should he decide to come that way. I am thankful I had almost an extra month of pregnancy than my last two, so I could get in the right frame of mind and connect with my son.

Friday, the 25th of February:

40 weeks plus 6 days, I had been having very mild sporadic contractions all day. I didn’t take much notice as I remembered with DS1 that these had lasted for days. I just carried on as per usual, but by the afternoon I started to get the feeling I may need to be prepared to birth in the following days so I started cleaning everything I could and called my partner W to tie up loose ends at work before he came home.

The week before my eldest daughter had brought home head lice, so for the week I had been frantically washing everything and treating the children’s hair. I decided to wash the sheets again that week…I think it was the fourth time I had. I then went to the laundromat at about 7pm to dry the clothes and sheets. I told W I better do it now because I didn’t know when I would get a chance to next. While I was at the laundromat the contractions seemed to become regular and more intense, so I called my support person M and told her to be prepared to come over if something did begin to happen.

I began to fold the dry clothes but as the contractions continued I thought, “Hmmm…I probably should just go home”. This was the first time I had driven the new car as well so I was having a little trouble. I was thinking this was probably the worst time to try driving it for the first time and I hoped that my waters didn’t break on the seat.

I got home and told my W he needed to get the children in bed as it looked like something was happening. I hopped in the bath to try and slow things down, but they still seemed to be coming. I then called M back and asked her to come over as they had not eased back. I then called my friend C (she lives 2 hours from me) to come over to photograph the labour.

W ended up going to bed with our eldest just in case things happened so he could be well rested to take care of the children. He did however blow up the birth pool before he went to bed. I took this time to prepare the birth space and make sure everything we needed was available and easily at arm’s reach.

M arrived probably around 10 pm. I’m not sure exactly, but I was quite tense and nervously excited at this stage so she tried to relax me. I had a smudge stick so she used it to bless and cleanse our energy and the energy of the home, then we left it to burn out in the birth space. She suggested I try and get some rest in the early stages while the contractions were not painful. She gave me a neck and shoulder massage and a cup of chamomile tea. I tried to lie down and go to sleep on the lounge. C arrived at maybe around 11-12 pm and by that stage the contractions seemed to have backed off. I felt like I had called her for nothing plus she had to be at Byron to shoot a wedding at 8am the next morning (We are far north Brisbane).

I said to M perhaps I should try and walk as she had suggested earlier to try and pick things up again. So we all ended up walking to a sports field near my house and I almost had a heart attack when a bat flew out of a tree towards me so much so I screamed. I hate bats and toads (was also scared of one of these jumping out) and I made some passing comment that bats, toads and head lice sent me into panic and melt down mode, but birthing a breech was so normalized in my mind that I was completely at peace with it.

Walking through contractions

Saturday, the 26th of February:

By the time we got back home the contractions had ramped up and were coming regular and quite strong so I think I began leaning over the kitchen bench then progressed to a fit ball while C and M filled the birth pool. The mood was really good and still very light-hearted. I had this crop top on and I told M and C when I bought it, the girl asked me if I had somewhere I planed to wear it…ahhhh birth? I found it funny that she thought I would be wearing something like that around in public.

water birth

Footling breech birth

I went to the toilet and I could feel something and said to M, I think that my waters were bulging. I stood next to the birth pool and asked C to take a photo of my belly as it may be the last time I have it and just as she did I got a contraction pretty much instantly and my waters broke. I thought, “OK, well this is it! Everything is going to speed up now.” So, I hopped in the pool and it was really great. However it seemed to ease off the contractions again, so I decided to go for another walk with M. We walked a couple of streets away and they started getting intense again so we headed home while my waters continued to leak on the way.

Home footling breech birthI got back home and decided to lean on the fit ball for a bit more before hopping back in the pool. I was in the pool for quite a while and the contractions seemed intense and I could feel something as well as little toes but not too low. I must have stayed in the pool for a couple of hours and there was still no progress. The contractions seemed to intensify even when I was on all fours. It was at this stage I decided to get out again. Not long after stepping out I felt something flick out which I assumed was baby’s foot. I then went to the toilet to see if it would help things along by sitting there.

At this stage C had been sleeping, because she thought nothing was happening and she was about to come in to tell me that she had to leave for the wedding. When she came in though, a foot had come out while I was on the toilet and I told her to wake W. By this stage I was so zoned out, but I still happened to notice the looks of shock on everyone’s faces.

Vaginal Breech Birth

Another foot came out and since the baby was posterior, I got off and got on all fours. His feet started to come out and rested on the floor till someone reminded me. I tried getting them off the floor by raising a bit so that he could have gravity to pull him down. I remember looking down and seeing his legs and bottom out with meconium. He had to be guided a little into anterior just after the umbilicus was born. When I was told the umbilicus was out I knew I had to push even though the urge was not there as I had 8 minutes to get this boy out before oxygen was cut off.

Vaginal Footling Breech Birth

I tried, but we realized that his arms were above his head and his head was deflexed completely looking sky upwards. Had to sweep those arms down then pull his head down which was reasonably quick and easy as there was a lot of room. After that I just pushed and pushed as hard as I could to get those shoulders then head out and the whole process thankfully happened in under 5 minutes and he was born at 4:05 am the 26th of February 2011.

Vaginal breech birth

I was so caught up in the moment that I instinctively went to pull him to my chest when someone stopped me as his cord was around his neck which we managed to untangle and we welcomed him earthside. I turned him over with my hand under his stomach and tried to drain him as he was not breathing yet. I talked to him and we rubbed him up and he really looked like he wanted to breathe, but it was bout 30 seconds before he gasped and took his first breath.

Footling breech birth

vaginal breech home birth

I brought him to my chest absolutely relieved we made it through this when he was quite possibly in the worst breech position a baby could be in. When he was raised to my chest he grabbed the cross that I had on my chain I was wearing. Out of all the beads on my birthing necklace, that was what he grabbed. It was quite powerful.

Breech Home Birth

He was quite upset and still screaming a lot so we decided to hop back in the birth pool to see if it would calm him down. More warm water was added and it appeared it really relaxed him. We then brought my eldest daughter out to meet her new brother and she was beaming. It was beautiful. C had to leave, but I was thankful for her being there to capture the most important part.

Breech birth

Footling breech birth

After a while I moved on to a mattress to try and birth the placenta. We waited till the cord had stopped pulsing. About an hour and a half later we tied it off with a cord tie and W cut the cord. W then took him while I sat on the toilet and the placenta instantly delivered into a bowl we placed there with no need for any synthetic assistance. I didn’t have any signs of post partum hemorrhage. I only had a small little tear about half a cm that wouldn’t have even been first degree.

After he fed, we lay down together and slept at about 7 pm. It was the most amazing experience and by far the most easy and gentle birth I’ve had…even compared to vertex deliveries. We weighed him the next day at 4.2kg, 52 and 1/2 cm long and 34 and 1/2 cm head circumference. I knew all along that he and I would make it through this and I’m so glad and thankful I trusted him and myself, because I know the outcome in hospital would not have been as gentle.

*Photography by Mihaja Photography.

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