My First Breech Baby
I’d like to start by explaining that I have had two breech babies. One planned home breech birth, and another planned home head down birth, only my breech baby turned last second as did my head down baby. The idea that any baby is stuck any one way baffles me. It’s their birth, it’s their way, we’re just going along for the ride.
My first born (I have three children) was breech. In a brief summary, my water broke in the morning with no contractions. My midwife checked for heart tones and realized that the baby we had thought was head down was indeed breech. We both agreed to go ahead with the planned home birth, only she didn’t want me laboring in the water because she wanted a good view on everything. She also said that I was not to push at all till I was fully 10 cm.
Ten hours of labor isn’t that much for first time, but without the water sack my urge to push was great. When finally given the go ahead, I had about an hour of pushing before my husband announced that he saw hair. Suddenly, I could feel my midwife start breathing. I did not give birth to a hairy butt baby! He turned! ‘M’ had a five foot cord wrapped around his body so many time it was as though he’d been doing pirouettes in my belly, which he probably had. My midwife cleared his airways (with her mouth), put him on my, chest and within seconds he was healthy and breathing.
My Breech Birth
‘A’ was definitely head down through the end of my pregnancy. I have an ultrasound to confirm it. Before I was even 37 weeks I started having some on and off contractions. I begged her to stay in a little longer since she was measuring about 5 weeks small (fundal height) and I was worried. She listened, no more contractions till 38 weeks.
Twice I got up in the middle of the night to call my midwife with contractions 5 minutes, then 3 minutes apart, only to have them go away and nothing happen. It was like she was holding the carrot in front of my nose and not letting me nibble. I wanted to hold my baby in my arms so bad! The night before she was born I was in tears. I was sick of the false labor (also known as prodromal labor) and my mucous plug had come out. I knew I wasn’t at her due date yet, but I was being told not to pick up my other two children. I could hardly do any housework, and I was generally tired of waking up at night thinking ,“Is this it?”
That night I sat down with my husband.
“Let’s picture this,” he said. “How is your labor going to start?”
So we drew it out. “I’ll go into labor at midnight, and she’ll be born early in the morning.”
“OK.” said my husband.
“I think…” I said.
“Don’t think. KNOW!”
So I tried.
Midnight came and went and nothing. “Don’t worry,” Mat said “You’ve been through this twice before, they don’t stay in forever.” So we went to bed. An hour later I woke up again with semi strong contractions. Nothing I hadn’t been through the other nights. I was scared that if I started thinking about it they would stop. “It’s OK,” Mat told me. “It’s OK,” I repeated over and over. “If they stop, it’s OK, if they keep going it’s OK. It’s OK, it’s OK, It’s OK!” They kept going….
Around 3 we tentatively made our phone calls. My friend Noa came over, my midwife decided to let me ride it out another half hour and call her at 3:30 if they were still going. They kept going. My midwife arrived and made sure everything was set. At this point I wanted the birthing tub set up so Noa and my midwife got to work while my Mat helped me through the contractions.
Stepping into the birthing tub was not as much relief as I had remember it with my second labor. Back labor was incredibly intense. I had Noa pressed up against the wall using every ounce of strength she had in her to lay pressure on my sacrum while I held onto the sides of the tub. “I hope I don’t bite a hole in your birthing tub,” I told the midwife. “Don’t worry, it’s happened before,” she told me.
From my second unassisted labor I knew how to check dilation so my midwife had me giving her reports. I still had a lip, not being the most patient person in the world I started massaging it away. It felt good to have something to do, it felt good to feel the sack of water that I now wanted to feel descending. I wanted to push, I didn’t need to, but I wanted to. I gave a couple tentative pushes and my water broke.
“You should be able to feel the head now,” my midwife instructed me. I felt, but this didn’t feel like any head I’ve ever touched. “There’s no hair, it’s soft, and there’s a fold in the middle.” I told my midwife. “Some babies get bruises on top of their heads,” my midwife said. “But none of my kids were bald,” I told her. I didn’t want to argue. I was in labor, the pressure on my pubic bone was really intense and whatever part of the baby this was, it wasn’t descending. I felt with my fingers for a butt crease, but it was too difficult to feel. Midwife must be right. It didn’t matter, I wanted to get this baby out!
Suddenly the tub did not feel like the right place to be. I clambered out and sat down on the couch. Lifting my baby off my pubic bone I asked “ Is this OK? Aren’t I pulling her the wrong way?” I needed this, I needed to be pulling her up, off my pubic bone. I didn’t know why, this was not something I could control. My pubic bone felt like it was going to break open and lifting her up off it was the only thing I could do.
My midwife gave me a shrug of her shoulders as if to say ‘Whatever you body tells you’. Then she said, “If you want to push on the couch that is fine, but it’ll be more difficult getting her out because–” Fine! I didn’t listen to the rest. ‘More difficult’ is not a term I like to hear during labor. I got up off the couch and on all fours on the floor. Everyone shifted their position to be ready for whatever came next. I might sprint across the room to the bathroom, they weren’t sure.
I started to push. The other two kids were up by now. I could hear them through the door, but another friend had come to be on toddler patrol and their games were like background music while I screamed. I am a screamer, the kids were warned, they knew their sister was coming. I screamed and I pushed and my hips popped out of their sockets with a great “POP!” I could both hear and feel.
After that things progressed quickly. A few more pushes and my midwife’s voice cut through the air. “We have a breech!” she announced. Her voice was crisp and you could tell that despite years of practice she still had a little fear regarding breech births. I realized she was probably in denial the whole time. Soft, bald, and a fold in the middle does not sound like a head. There was a split second of silence and then another contraction came to bring us back to what was at hand.
A breech baby? Well, she was already so far along she literally pooped in my midwife’s face. A few more pushes and I could feel her bum firmly coming through. Kept pushing. I felt her torso then legs. It felt as though my midwife was pulling on her body, but in reality she was just making sure the cord had enough room to circulate oxygen in and out. A last push, her head came through easier than I remember any head coming before this.
“Can I see her?” I asked my midwife. “Not yet.” she told me. This wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear, but I trusted her. If something is wrong she’ll tell me when I am able to hear it. There was silence in the room where I was waiting to hear a little baby cry. Right now she’s taking care of what she can take care of, I told myself. I trusted her. In the end it was simply that ‘A’ had a short cord and my midwife was trying to maneuver her so that I could sit and hold her without mistakenly kicking her on the way. I was still on all fours and she needed to pass her through my legs to get her to my chest. Still, that was a long thirty seconds.
She was beautiful! He color was perfect, her hair was brown (I don’t have bald kids). She felt no need to cry, but was instantly gulping down copious amounts of colostrum I didn’t know I had yet. Five minutes later I felt another contraction coming on and before we had the thought of cutting the cord I was handing off my baby. The placenta slipped out like a wet fish and was whisked away to the refrigerator to be saved for encapsulating . Mat clamped and cut the cord. Someone got me some orange juice and I held my little breechling who was already ravenous for some more colostrum.
As difficult as labor was with little ‘A’, I have to say it was a lot easier than it was to not push when I was in labor with ‘M’. When people make faces about my hips coming out I have to tell them that while they took two days to fully go back in their sockets, that’s fast healing compared to having a c-section.
Little ‘A’ was 7 pounds, 21 inches, and though her head was only 13 cm, her bum with legs up was 15 cm. I did not tear, I didn’t even have any “skid marks”, which I experienced with my first. I was concerned when within the first two weeks she began sleeping 6-8 hours a night, and pooping every other day, but after weighing her at two weeks we found that she had gained a total of 13 ounces. She does have torticollis which we attribute to the position she was in in the womb. Other than that, she has been one of the easiest healthiest babies I know.
One crazy moment came after her placenta was born. I called my mother to tell her the good news. My mother picked up the phone with a brief “ Can’t talk honey, I’m in the hospital!” I called my brother only to find that he had gotten the same cryptic message. The moment that my daughter was born, literally that moment, both my parents were hit by a tour bus while standing on the sidewalk in Philadelphia. Amazingly they are both fine and recovered well, but the coincidence of that moment stands out to me as a testament to my little gentle breechling and her unexpected strength to shift things, even cross continents.