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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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole August 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm

SO POWERFUL. And, so beautiful. Thank you for leading the way in natural childbirth.

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Nev August 9, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this special moment and Congratulations. :D

Nev

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erica August 9, 2011 at 7:35 pm

LOVE! Thank you for sharing it gave me goose bumps!

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Mathilde August 10, 2011 at 11:31 am

Beautiful and inspiring! Like erica, it gave me goose bumps. Thanks for sharing your story!

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cheryl August 10, 2011 at 11:48 am

Wow! That one picture with just the legs out is amazing! Well done mama!

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Talina August 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Beautiful story, I loved that you shared it and got some many amazing photos. Great work mama and baby :)

I am encouraged for my upcoming homebirth after reading this so thank you!

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marie August 11, 2011 at 8:54 am

What a fantastic story. So inspiring! It was very informative and almost felt like crying it moved me so much. Go Aussie!!

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Karen Joy August 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Beautiful, inspiring story!

One question about this part: “Had to sweep those arms down then pull his head down which was reasonably quick and easy as there was a lot of room.” How was this done? Reaching inside? Who did it? I thought you weren’t supposed to touch birthing breech babies? (I am not challenging anyone here — I have a lot to learn, and am just asking questions for clarification.)

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Britt August 30, 2013 at 2:13 pm

As long as you don’t pull on the baby’s neck to try to get the head out, you can assist as necessary. They say don’t touch them because too many people have yanked on them and caused neck, brain injuries, and internal decapitation :(
Freeing arms and tucking chins are okay when necessary as long as you don’t yank and if needed apply counter pressure.

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Emily August 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Thank you for sharing this! Such an empowering story!

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Rachel August 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Wow, what an incredible story. Absolutely amazing.

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Tracy August 12, 2011 at 6:38 am

He was stuck Karen if someone didn’t put their hands inside of me and move his arms and head quickly he would have either died or suffered serious brain damage. It was a hands off breech birth however he became stuck after umbilicus. The important thing is to know when to step in when the baby is stuck and what manoeuvres to do as you have little time to act. It was one of the things I read up about from the emergency child birth hand book and had discussed with the people present at my birth. Although we assumed he wouldn’t get stuck I am thankful we educated ourselves in the event.

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Janis Bush August 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

And he shares MY birthday!
Aloha and Mahalo, Janis
Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii

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Denise August 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm

This is an amazing story! I loved reading it. Our ability to birth a baby any way is amazing!

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Chelsea August 18, 2011 at 10:39 am

Just over two months ago, I also had a breech homebirth. Mine was attended by two midwives. My baby also had nuchal arms and the same procedure was performed to dislodge him… only they couldn’t get him in time and we lost him.

I’m not posting here to scare people or advocate against homebirth. I had a beautiful pregnancy because of the holistic care I received from a midwife and my labor was amazing right up until those last four minutes. I do think though that it’s important we all stay aware and informed of the dangers — especially when the baby is breech. I also think that what we need is more cooperation between the homebirthing and hospital birthing communities. I was terrified that my baby and I would be hurt or killed by hospital interventions when maybe that’s just the thing that would have saved my boy. There must be a middle ground somewhere and I hope that an open dialogue such as this will help us find it.

Congrats on your beautiful baby. Sending much love and light.

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Tracy September 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Chelsea I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I couldn’t agree more with your sentiment and that is why I chose to share this story. Initially when I suspected he was breech I didn’t think it was such a big deal because I heard all that breech is a variation of normal talk.

The more I read and looked into it I realised it was a risk I had to take and own and be aware that things could go very wrong. Then when he did become stuck and came the way he did was a huge wake up call that sometimes (and more often than vertex) does a breech baby encounter problems that are not attributed to anything other than position.

I came out the other end of that birth realising that it is not just like vertex and something to be blaze about. That in fact you do need to be prepared for such events.

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Jessica October 25, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I cannot tell you how sorry I am for your loss.

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Jodi October 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Chelsea,
First, I am so sorry for your loss, beyond words. What drives me completely speechless however is the incredibly powerful, strong way you speak in your comment. Many women, with every right to be, would be all kinds of angry and upset, but you strike me as a woman who looks grief and anger in the eye and strives to rise above.
You are a warrior, as you said below; you epitomise woman and mother. I believe you will overcome your fear and, however you birth, any child will be proud to call you mother.
Much respect, and my best wishes for the future.

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jennifer leaves February 18, 2012 at 1:23 am

Chelsea, You are amazing to have gone through your loss and survived. It has helped me so much to read this story and yours since my first was a surprise breech. After 2.5 days of labor, having a homebirth, my waters broke and we discovered he was breech. My midwife looked at me and told me, and I knew my chances for a natural homebirth were over since she already made it clear in her contract that she would not be of service for breech births (she had been midwifing to a mother when the baby was lost during a breech birth) I had no question about it at the time, and knew it was the right thing to get a csection. Only did I question why I had not gone with my feelings from a few weeks earlier that he was head up, I felt his head near my ribs, so that I could try to get him to turn. I understood more about why he may have been breech when I had my second. I attempted vbac at home and while the labor went smoothly, after 6 hours of pushing, my babe wasnt coming through so another csection. Pregnant with my third, who was conceived even though I had an iud, so I was seeing the OB who performed the cesection. She advised me that I had true cepho/pelvic incompatability. But I just could not accept it and schedule a csection. I attempted vbac at home with an even easier labor yet again after5 hrs of pushing my babe would not come through. I am glad I went through all of the labor and allowing them to pick their birthdays, I know it was better for them than to have a scheduled csection. Going through the vbac trials made me realize that had I tried to push out my first breech boy, I probably wouldnve lost him to being stuck… I also realized that he mustve turned breech late in that last month for maybe not being able to engage his head. Your story is another confirmation for me as I search for healing of birthing trauma, having always second guessed myself on each birth since.

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Tamera M Weis RN February 18, 2012 at 1:55 am

Thank you for your kindness in your comments. While I am sure that your grief must be at times overwhelming, you have shared here in a way that presents both sides of the decision and choices that must be made.
Breech babies are more likely to have complications–REGARDLESS OF THE BIRTH SETTING.
Breech babies die more often than vertex babies no matter where the family chooses to birth and no matter who the family chooses to care for them during the birth.
Doing your research and and choosing the attendants that are most qualified to help you with the choices that you have made can increase your odds–but the risk remains. This also applies to multiples, VBAC, and infants of diabetic mothers –all somewhat more risky births–no matter WHERE they take place.
Since the birth MUST eventually take place somewhere, there is no way to completely avoid the risk–babies sometimes die in the hospital too.

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tori gillit August 19, 2011 at 10:26 am

This breech birth story is so encouraging! I’ve thought about the possibility of this happening to me and what I would do (I’m delivering with midwives in a birth center) and this was so helpful! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story :)

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Natasha August 31, 2011 at 10:44 pm

This story was both scary and comforting. I’m pregnant with my first baby and worry sometimes that labor will be difficult, but every experience is different and I’m trying to stay hopeful…thank you for sharing your story.

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Jo September 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Oh remember reading this beautiful birth story on SMATS and seeing Caroline’s sneak peak of the birth photos and I’m still struck by the beauty and power. THIS is what trusting your body and birthing is all about.

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Melissa September 5, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Just wanted to send my condolences to Chelsea. My hospital birth was awful and my baby needed chiropractic care to correct the resulting problems. I am hesitant to birth in a hospital next time. It must be heart wrenching to do everything you can to give your baby the ultimate birthing experience and have it not result in a beautiful and alive baby. If you choose to have another baby, I hope you get assistance with your fear – maybe EFT or something similar. I am sending much love to you as I can’t imagine the pain you must be feeling.

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Chelsea September 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Thanks, Melissa. We are TTC again… and I am practicing to face my fears head on. I feel a bit like a spiritual warrior, lol… but I’m doing it.

What is EFT? I’d love all of the help I can get.

Much gratitude and peace.

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Mrs. BWF September 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm

(((hugs))) Chelsea. You have been on my mind.

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MomofTwins September 6, 2011 at 12:58 am

Congratulations on following your Inner Guidance and having such a beautiful birth. The pictures are so spectacular and captured so much emotion. Blessings to you and your family!

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Amy October 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Chelsea,
EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, is a form of acupressure. This is one of the best sites for information on how the technique was developed, the things you can treat with it, and tips on how to perform it on yourself. Hope this helps :). http://eft.mercola.com/

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Beck October 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Your an amazing and strong women Tracy :). I feel very priviledged to know you.

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Tracy November 1, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Beck I’m lucky to know you I think you are just as strong and brave. I’m not sure I would have coped well with what you have been through *hugs*.

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Sarah October 27, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Amazing. Inspirational. Brave. Courageous. Perfect Trust. Just wow. I like to think I would have done the same thing. But how on earth did you find anyone to attend you? was that a midwife? she is brave too. And deserves loads of credit for truly supporting a woman

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Tracy November 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm

That’s the sad thing Sarah I had no medical help because simply no one would be willing to support me in a medical environment to birth the way I wanted to. I had a scan at 37 weeks and with two previous 38 week births I basically would have been wheeled into theatre if I was in hospital. The sonographer told me he was transverse and I wouldn’t be having a homebirth.

I wanted to give him time to turn so I waited. I didn’t go back to my gp for the scan results because i knew I would be sent ot hospital. I knew at hospital I would have been told there was no option but c section and in the unlikely even they let me birth him it would have been lying on an operating table with an epidural hooked up to all sorts of monitors which is not good for a breech birth.

No midwife would take me on in fact I have heard of the hospital here threatening to take the licence of midwives who support any breech birth. If I turned up to hospital in labour it would have either been an emergency section or i would have ended up with a forceps delivery with epitome even basically being ripped apart to get him out.

It’s sad that I had very little choice but really my only option was to have a freebirth with only my friend to support me. It makes me angry that women who would prefer some kind of medical presence (like myself) are forced into having none because they are not “allowed” to birth.

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Stephanie November 16, 2011 at 7:32 am

So amazing!!!!! Thank you for sharing!!!!

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Kylee December 19, 2011 at 9:03 am

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I had my lovely baby girl in 2006 by elective ceasar. I had been looking forward to and planned for a natural birth. My daughter was in a frank breech position the entire pregnancy and right from the beginning my ob/gyn told me, “The last breech baby I delivered died, so I won’t deliver breech babies vaginally.” I waited for her to turn. I was not even told of any techniques to help turn her. I thought it would just happen in time. My husband did not support the idea of a natural birth – regarding it as ugly and indecent. He pushed all the way for a ceasar with both our children. With this lack of support I stupidly didn’t investigate other options. My second, a boy, was born in 2008, and although he was head down, had to be born by emergency ceasar as I developed pre eclampsia at 39 weeks and could not be induced due to my earlier ceasar. Six years on I am still grieving the loss of the experience of a natural birth. I did not even get to feel a single contraction. I feel like my body has failed me – that it could not even do the most natural thing a woman’s body is made to do. I long to have another baby, (hubby of course does not want to). My earlier birth experiences have messed up my feelings so much that I cannot tell whether I really want another child, or just want another chance to have a natural birth. I feel the opportunity was stolen from me and I am heartbroken that I will never get it back. I know that it does not really matter what kind of birth you have, and the best thing is that I have two happy and healthy children, but I don’t seem to be able to get past this loss. I thought that by going through the private hospital system and having the “best” medical care that that would give me the best birth experience. Now I hear of women in the public system being given so much more information, options, assistance and choices than I ever was. No one around me that I talk to understands how I feel.

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Tracy December 25, 2011 at 7:30 am

Hi Kylee, I totally understand where your coming from. I was just thinking before I came on here again how glad I am to have my son my 3rd very unplanned and almost impossibly conceived surprise. Someone once said to me that you will always regret the children you don’t have, never the children you do. I didn’t want a 3rd child I was happy with 2 and really was shocked and upset to find myself pregnant with this one. However as you read from the story he has been a shock to the system in more ways then one but he has taught me so much about myself and life.

I had to previously traumatic hospital births and I never thought i would experience a beautiful homebirth like some of my friends as my family was complete. This little boy came along and healed my faith in my body and my choices. I don’t regret a single thing about him, his conception or the way I chose to give birth.

My partner in the past was extremely anti homebirth and even I thought it was a bit silly when i had my first child but we both grew at that stage and so much more from the experience. I don’t recommend homebirth and especially not freebirth to everyone but if it’s in your heart follow it. I’m not pro freebirth I’m pro choice and whatever you feel inside of you I’m a big believer in following it and mapping out those dreams because you are the one that has to live your life.

Don’t ever for a minute think that your loss or grief isn’t warranted. I know I come from the extremely privlidged position of having 3 vaginal deliveries but it wasn’t till my second did I experience an epi dural free 2nd stage and it blew my mind. I begged for an epi but they couldn’t get it in in time and I will honestly never forget having my second child and feeling every bit of crowning a baby and also feeling robbed that I wasn’t supported enough to achieve that with my first. Of course my second birth was also marred by a lot of bullying but my journey with my 3rd really helped me heal and find myself. Trust yourself and your heart and be kind to yourself. <3

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Jessie December 28, 2011 at 10:14 am

Beautiful photos – so touching. You’re so very strong, brave, and you’re so lucky to have had a natural home birth!

http://www.achangingofhearts.wordpress.com

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Sarah January 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Wow, trully amazing! x

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Jess wheatley January 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm

omg that was intense i started to cry thank you for sharing, what a beautiful moment i really felt like i was there, im due in 5wks and all these wonderful stories are helping me in my fear of birth since my 2nd was so painful. thank u sooo much again

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Ashley January 31, 2012 at 7:38 pm

when they say “your baby will come out walking” you proved they do! :) how strong and powerful! i am amazed! good job mama!

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jennifer February 18, 2012 at 5:02 am

I had two breech, my first was frank, second footling. Id give anything to have the knowledge i have now and take back those c/s. My first was cut out at least 3 weeks early because at the time dr knew best. Its so encouraging to see other mommas birth breech.

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MissKatherineA February 18, 2012 at 8:39 am

Thank you so much for sharing your story Tracy, and thank you also Chelsea. I had a second breech twin and took the risks I found in my research very seriously, as hard as it is to hear stories of loss it is so important to have as much information as possible. I was also very disappointed in the options my local OB’s offered, only a c-section or a manual breech extraction – it is still unbelievable to me that they would not allow me to birth my baby myself. They really are forcing women and their babies into dangerous situations, I wish so much things had gone differently for you Chelsea.

This is an incredibly touching birth story, thank you again for sharing Tracy!

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Lindsey December 18, 2012 at 11:26 am

Why are breech births supposed to be “hands off”? Just asking because I’m not familiar with them and had never heard that before.

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Anna January 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm

What an amazing story, so beautiful. Unfortunately my footling breech wasn’t discovered until I was 8cm dilated! They wanted to c-section so I had the pain relief etc, but my little man didnt want to come out that way. His foot came out on the way to theatre so I ended up delivering him naturally. Am so relieved that he was ok although he didnt breath for three minutes, the longest three minutes of my life. He is now a happy healthy 5 month old, adored by his big brother.

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Lucy March 23, 2013 at 6:11 am

Wow, absolutely amazing. To know that footling breech babies can be born naturally is a testament to the female body and the wonderful midwives and support people you had surrounding you. I have every respect for you birthing this way, although looking back I dont think I could’ve done the same thing.
I had a fleeting thought about homebirthing, after being present for the birth of my dear friend’s daughter in their home in Dec 2011. However my husband would never support this and I didn’t even bother mentioning it to him. Instead I buried my head in Ina May and others and got myself in ‘the zone’ in the weeks leading up to the birth. I’d done this before and my body had performed brilliantly, I was pumped to do it all over again but with so much more knowledge under my belt. I wrote a detailed birth plan, shared it with my midwife and made sure I knew how the hospital policies worked inside and out, so I knew best how to get around them :).I didnt bother with a plan B. I even joked with my antenatal midwife at the 38wk checkup about the baby being the right way around, after my grandmother had told me her experience of a breech birth in the 1950′s. Hindsight is a wonderful thing….
My daughter was born (01/06/2012) via emergency c-section, like Anna I found out at 7cm that she was breech. My water broke and was full of meconium, the midwife took one look and said it was a lot of meconium for a bub thats meant to be head down. I said ‘HUH??!!. The doctor asked me mid-contraction if I wanted to continue to birth naturally although she would recommend a c-sect. Then a little foot fell out and the choice was taken from me. Rushing to theatre the world seemed to stand still and I prayed and hoped that my baby would just ‘fall out’ before I got there. After having a 3.5 hr completely natural drug-free waterbirth (in hospital, the same hospital) with my first child, I was totally unprepared for a c-section. I ended up with a general anaesthetic and an inverted t incision (as her head was wedged under my ribs), she ended up in special care nursery with low blood sugar. When I finally got to meet her I was so doped up on morphine all I could think was to get her onto my chest and feed. She didnt leave my arms (figuratively speaking!!) for the next 3 months.
My antenatal midwife rang me the week after the birth and very humbly apologised for missing the breech presentation. I’d never even heard of ‘footling’ breech presentation before.
It’s nearly twelve months on and I’m finally coming to terms with the circumstances of the birth, coming out of postnatal depression and finally enjoying my breech baby (that ended up in a hip brace for 4 months). I am unsure as to whether we will have any more children, the ob told me that its not recommended to VBAC after an inverted T incision, and a c-sect is something I would really have to think long and hard about doing voluntarily.
A little part of me is envious that you had a beautiful natural footling breech birth, but for the most part I’m just in complete awe. I think the most important thing about pregnancy and birth is knowing all the options, exploring the what-ifs and what you would do should they occur.
Lindsey I think the breech births are ‘hands off’ because the first touch stimulates the bub to begin breathing, and you obviously want them out before they do this or you have a risk of aspiration. Can anyone clarify this?

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Margaret March 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm

A breech birth is “hands off” because the Moro reflex is stimulated when touched. This makes a baby try to open their arms, then tense them up along with the legs, and then try to start crying. Random fact: The Moro Reflex is the only unlearned fear reflex in humans.

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Abigail June 30, 2013 at 10:00 am

When we moved to New York in the ’80s, it was impossible to find a midwife who would take our insurance, so I went to a doctor who worked with midwives and pioneered using the Leboyer (precursor to water birth) in New York. In labor it was discovered the baby was breech and after having homebirths in Texas, I was afraid of being forced into a caesarian. Dr. K. let the midwife handle everything and just stood nearby in case he was needed. I found out later he was an expert in using forceps for breech, but only if absolutely necessary. He told me that doctors are trained to jump in and do something medical. That’ why they became doctors, so he preferred to stay away from the temptation and have midwifes handle the births where he wasn’t needed.

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Sarah July 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I lost my beautiful little girl, who was an undiagnosed footling breech at 41 weeks, three weeks ago. She was badly brain damaged due to lack of oxygen during labour and only survived for 24 hours. We live 45 mins away from the hospital and I actually gave birth at the side of the road as once she kicked the amniotic sac open, her foot came down very quickly, but I wasn’t dilated enough to get the rest of her out quickly enough to save her. Please do read up on the potential problems – I totally understand the desire to give birth naturally, but personally, if I am ever pregnant again (which I doubt as I have had a lot of fertility problems), I will be knocking on the hospital door at 38 weeks demanding a C-section. Like Chelsea, I don’t want to scare anyone, but I had never heard of a footling breech before and, because it was undiagnosed, never had any reason to look it up. Turns out the things I was determined not to do, like lying down rather than staying upright, and not going to hospital until I was sure I was in established labour, were the things that actually would have helped her. So glad for all the lovely people on here who have had a positive breech birth experience – you were obviously well informed and considered all the options carefully.

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A-M August 27, 2013 at 8:00 am

Sarah, so saddened and sorry for your loss. There aren’t really words to express what I wish to communicate to you, I just didn’t want to read you comment and leave it unacknowledged.

And those things you were determined not to do which might have helped, don’t let them cause you guilt. In the vast majority of cases, your actions would have been entirely correct. You only had the best intentions for your baby and no way of knowing otherwise.

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helen January 11, 2014 at 4:52 pm

what if his head was 38cm? My baby was footling breech and 4.1kg, but I lean toward believing that with his large head c-section was a blessing.

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