Breech at 41 Weeks, Turned Head Down, 12 lb. 4 oz. Baby Born Naturally

by Birth Without Fear on December 20, 2011

I had already had two successful homebirths, and I loved the experience.  Amazing.  That’s what birth is.  And beautiful and wonderful.  A gift.  I know there are times when intervention or surgery may be needed, and it is wonderful that it is there for such times, but it is not the norm.  This birth turned out to have some surprises and potential obstacles, but it all worked out in the end and was an incredible experience.

Two and a half months ago, I was ready to deliver my third baby and was again hopeful for a homebirth.  Having confidence in our bodies and the birth process, I wasn’t alarmed that I was a week overdue.  But that day, I went to my 41 week prenatal appointment and faced a big change.  We discovered that the baby was in a frank-breech presentation.  According to Colorado law, it is illegal for a midwife to deliver a baby at home when there is a confirmed breech (not because it’s not possible, but because that’s the law here).

My second baby, a daughter, had been discovered to be breech at 38 weeks.  But a week and a half later, she turned.  But now, at 41 weeks, time wasn’t on our side.  We were facing a scheduled appointment with a doctor, to do an external cephalic version (ECV) and try to get the baby to turn head down.  I was told that if we did that, I would likely have a hospital birth and possibly a cesarean section, if complications arose.  That wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it certainly wasn’t what we hoped for.  And first, we wanted to do all we could to help the baby turn and help us to still have a homebirth.

So we jumped into action!  My daughter had turned, granted with more time, but she did turn.  And so I believed that there was a good chance that we could get this baby to turn as well.  My husband and I found a chiropractor up near our new home who knew the Webster Technique (what was used before in helping my daughter to turn).  It involves an adjustment for the sacro-iliac joint and addressing the round ligament, to enable the baby to have room to turn.  We also went to a cranial-sacral therapist who helped me to relax—the spine, pelvis, uterus, etc—to also foster the baby turning.  And in addition, we talked to my husband’s sister who is a mother of 10 and all of those babies were breech, and she was able to get them to turn.  That was all done on the same day that we discovered the baby’s position.

The next morning, I awoke to find that the baby’s bum had dislodged from my pelvis, and was off to my right a bit.  I got a hand under the bum, and I gently pushed upward.  The baby started to move.  My husband got on Skype with his sister and she gave us some tips about how to help the baby turn, without forcing it (you do want to be careful of a possible cord wrap).  My husband and my dad gently urged the bum up and the head down, and I focused on relaxing.  I didn’t feel any resistance.  The baby turned!  We had a midwife confirm that the baby was now head down, in a great position.  She encouraged me to do some squats, to help the baby settle down more and prepare for birth.

That night I started having contractions, though it wasn’t anything big or difficult.  I was very tired, however—probably from all the emotion and stress of the past day and a half.  So I fell asleep and slept until about 2:30 in the morning when I awoke to the start of strong, intense contractions.  But they were only coming every 10-13 minutes.  So I tried to sleep more.  At around 5:45, my husband woke up and I told him about the strong contractions and he alerted my parents, who were in the guest room downstairs.

After about an hour the contractions weren’t as regular.  I started to worry that labor wouldn’t come.  It was still strong and intense, but so irregular that I wasn’t getting anywhere.  My sister, who lives nearby, had twin baby girls who were almost 2 months old.  She offered for me to nurse one of them, to help with labor progress.  So we decided to do that and it totally worked!!  I had to quickly hand that sweet baby girl to my mom, sitting by me, as the contractions got so intense!  After that, they came every 6 minutes and things really progressed from there!

That was at about 11:00 a.m.  My sister then graciously took my 3 year old and 2 year old to play with her kids while I labored.  It was great to know my kids were being well taken care of, and I had the support of my husband and parents there to help me.  Labor got really intense—I had so much pain in my low back.  I tried to rest in between contractions, but the pain in my back never seemed to go away.  If I did sit or lie down in between contractions, it seemed to slow things down.

So even though I was exhausted, after awhile of pretending to labor, I knew that to bring this baby here, I had to get serious and be willing to stand on my feet—and have things be even MORE INTENSE!  But I knew that if I took it a step at a time, and just focused on each contraction as it came, that I could do it—and with a great reward in the end!  So that’s what I did. I hung on my husband and my dad (like I did with my two previous deliveries), which helped things progress because of gravity, and I stayed on my feet in between contractions.  I did that until I was near the point of pushing and then I got down on my hands and knees.

It was time to push.  And things became SO intense—the burning came and I soon knew, somehow, that this delivery was very different from my other two.  In some way….but I couldn’t pinpoint it (I had no idea just how big this baby was, even though during pregnancy people had repeatedly asked me if I was having twins!).  I kept myself focused.  I pushed with each contraction, and the burning intensified, and then I’d have to breathe and resist pushing so that I’d ease the head out, and not tear.  My husband guided me, letting me know when to pause and allow the tissue to stretch, and when I could push again.

It was hard.  But I trusted that I could do it.  And I did do it.  I felt the support of those around me and reminded myself that once the head was out, the hardest part was done since the head is the biggest.  That’s what is typical.  But that wasn’t the case this time.  The head came out, but the body wouldn’t follow.  What I didn’t know at the time was that the baby’s shoulder was stuck—shoulder dystocia—because the chest was bigger than the head.  I was confused and didn’t understand why he wasn’t coming out.  I didn’t know why pushing didn’t seem to do anything.  It was so frustrating and hard.

Suddenly I felt the stress in the room.  My midwife was telling me to push, but I was pushing, without anything happening.  My loving supporters were there, encouraging me.  And at the height of discomfort and exhaustion, it felt like the midwife was pushing the baby back up—which, of course, made NO sense at all.  I later learned that it felt like that because the midwife had to reach up to get the shoulder loose.  I reached back and grabbed my mom’s arm, and she responded with holding onto me and encouraging me.  Oh, wow.  I had been praying for help and strength to help me get my baby safely out.  I felt so supported and strengthened—and I needed that, because having thought the baby would be here by now, I was at the point of being way beyond what you think you can handle.  We are religious, and I KNEW that my Father in Heaven was with me.  I knew he was sustaining me, giving me strength beyond what I thought I had, and offering me peace and comfort.  And then…he was here.

I did it.  But it wasn’t over.  Because of the dystocia, he hadn’t breathed for those few minutes.  And he still wasn’t taking a breath.  But somehow, I felt so calm and reassured.  That answer to prayer gave me so much comfort and confidence—and I felt that my Heavenly Father was helping me to know that it was going to be okay.  My baby was okay.  I just wanted to connect with my baby, and let him know that his father and I were right there, ready for him, and loving him.  I immediately rubbed his back and front and talked to him, trying to stimulate him.  The midwife got the oxygen and used that, as I talked—I told him that I was so happy he was here and to get to hold him, that we were right there for him, that it was all going to be okay, that we loved him so much, that he was perfect and beautiful,…. He coughed and cried and it was a beautiful sound!  As soon as I could, I held him to me, and stroked his sweet head and just kept talking to him!  I was so full of gratitude.  The emotion was strong and sweet.

Soon after, I got to get up in bed and he nursed right away.  We got to cuddle and then I was taken to the shower, to clean up.  My husband helped the midwife weigh him and he called to me, “Babe!!  He’s 12 lbs 4 oz!!”  Oh, my.  Although I realized, once he was born, that it was his size that was so different about this difficult labor, I had no idea he’d be THAT big.  My first son was 9 lbs, and my daughter was 8 lbs 10 oz…so it’s not like I had small babies.  But 12 lbs?!?  Wow.


The first thing my mom had said, when he was born, was “You did it! Oh, Marlise…he’s HUGE!”  And my sister commented, “Congratulations! You had a toddler!”  Yes, he was big.  And no, it wasn’t gestational diabetes—I never had that.  He was just a big baby.  He still is—at 2 ½ months—he weighs in over 16 lbs and is 25 ½ inches long (wearing 6-9 month clothes!).  He is an angel.  And the advantage of having such a big baby is that from day one—he sleeps great, he eats great, and I, as a result, have gotten more rest and my recovery has been awesome!

It was an incredible experience.  Every one of my births has been.  But this one was really extraordinary.    A 12 lb baby, breech at 41 weeks, turning head down within 24 hours! Despite the shoulder dystocia, he didn’t break any collar bones and wasn’t harmed at all, and I wasn’t either.  I didn’t even tear!!  It is amazing what the body is designed to do.  And it can do it!  Miracles all around.  Welcome, Colton Charles—my sweet, sweet boy.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Jocelyn December 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Stories like this are why it should be looked down on to schedule a c-section in advance of labor starting for a breech presentation. (That and the fact that breeches aren’t nearly as dangerous as we’ve come to believe)

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Cindy B December 20, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I agree it’s not a good idea to automatically schedule a c/s and that breeches are just a variation on normal, but let us not look down on anyone here. I also, think it’s important to point out that we shouldn’t schedule a c/s for a big babe either.

Great story… blessings.

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Krystle December 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Lovely story, so inspiring!

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Tiffany December 20, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Love this birth story!

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Tiffany December 20, 2011 at 6:19 pm

That is awesome – everyone should have that confidence in their body’s ability to birth a larger than average baby! Also, kuddos for trying all sorts of natural techniques to get the baby to turn!

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Melissa December 20, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Thank You for sharing! So inspiring.

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Elisa J December 20, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Thanks for sharing! What an awesome experience! That is very inspiring!

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Kathryn December 20, 2011 at 10:01 pm

That was a fantastic birth story! He’s gorgeous! So glad it turned out so well for you. When my dd was born, she was sunny side up, and I tried so hard to push her out, but when she went into distress, I ended up having to have an emergency c-section. She was only 8lbs 11.1 oz, Kelly is now 5 years old and I still have those what-ifs and regrets……

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Andrea December 20, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I love your family! Your sister having you nurse your neice, your dad holding you up during contractions, you are a very blessed woman! Congratulations on your sweet big bundle!

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Cher December 20, 2011 at 11:22 pm

This was a beautiful story and I just came home from the hospital frustrated and in pain but doable pain thought my water broke but it wasn’t not only that I’m still close and nothing was happening just braxton I’m 39 weeks and with my first son I went all the way up to 42 weeks had me induced they pushed c section but I told them to shut it and I had him vaginally thank God. Your story was amazing and awe inspiring you def lifted my spirits up and made me calm down thank you for that and now I will go and patiently wait for my second son to come when God wants him out :)

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Alexis December 21, 2011 at 12:07 am

Thank you for sharing! You are such an inspiration! And you are a very fortunate woman to have your family so close and to be so supportive. I’m a little envious. I had my sweet babies naturally at a birth center, but the Lord knew I could only handle so much, and being that my husband is military and my family is far away, He gave me blessedly easy, uncomplicated births. Your story is amazing and I hope you continue to share it with everyone who will listen. Maybe you can change just one mama’s birth experience for the better!

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Katie Flynn December 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Beautiful story!!! Thanks for sharing this! 12lbs!? Incredible ! !

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Lora December 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Huge congrats and we’ll done! My last baby our hba2c was 11lb and I remember it so well! He too was fine, as was I, but it’s such a bizarre feeling knowing your pushing hard and nothing is moving! Thanks for sharing! We have our 5th due in just under 7 weeks and are planning another homebirth xxx

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Mattisa December 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Amazing!! You did such a beautiful job and he did too!! Thank you for sharing your wonderful and inspiring story! :)

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Becki December 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

My 10lb baby was breech on his due date, but turned just fine with an ECV (then turned back on his own 24hrs later and was turned again with a 2nd ECV!). 5 days later I went went on to have a lovely homebirth and fantastic recovery.
Having read around the subject (some great articles here – http://www.aims.org.uk) and discussed the risks of vaginal breech birth vs cesarean breech delivery with my Doctor, had he turned breech again after the 2nd ECV, I would’ve tried for a vaginal breech birth rather than section due to the health benefits for mum and baby.
It is scary how one flawed trial changed obstetric practice so drastically, and how impossible it seems to fight back even now evidence clearly suggests that vaginal breech birth is safe with a healthy mum and normally progressing labour, and that the loss of skills to deliver breech babies vaginally is causing harm to mothers and babies.
Thanks for sharing, it is important that mums know that there is an option rather than immediately booking a section on discovering baby is breech.

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marsha dickerson December 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Thanks for sharing your story. My 4th son was born at 12lbs, 2oz and, yes, I had him completely natural with no drugs. I loved reading your story because it reminded me so much of my own although I did not have shoulder dystocia. People always ask me if I had gestational diabetes and if I had a c-section. I’m always so proud to answer no to both. God bless you!

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Katy December 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Oh my goodness! You are a super hero!!! God bless you- it seems a silly thing to say when you are already so obviously blessed! Loved this story, thanks for sharing!

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Rachael December 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm

What a wonderful and encouraging story! See, there is no reason to schedule a c-section just for breech or because the baby is “too big”! Thank you for sharing this!

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Ronda December 29, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Oh, this is SO inspiring! Thank you! Thank you for sharing! Next year is my 40th and I am craving another baby.
Enjoy.

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Diana Frost January 23, 2013 at 11:26 pm

@ Ronda, I had my first 3 children between 21 and 24. I had my last 2 at 37 and 39 and have never regretted doing so. My Grandkids are 22,19,17,17,15 and 4 months. What a thrill to get a new baby boy after all these years, my 27yr. daughters 1st child. She is the one who shared this beautiful birth story with me. My last 2 children also kept me on the go and young doing all the fun and enchanting things childhood brings.

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Karina January 2, 2012 at 11:32 am

Oh man, that was intense and…well, hard to read since I had a similar experience. But what a beautifully-told story. My third baby (first home birth), she was 9 lbs. 8 oz (but my biggest baby so far was 7 lbs. so that was quite a difference). It was a very scary experience, so scary in fact that I had an out-of-body experience. But she’s here safe and sound and I wouldn’t trade having a midwife for anything! What a blessing that was. I didn’t tear either and baby didn’t break bones either, but she got adjusted by a chiropractor at 12 hours old. Ironically, her shoulders are so, so tiny now. Blessings to you and your family. Way to go!

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MissKatherineA January 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

You did an amazing job!! What a big gorgeous boy, loved your faith through everything!

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Amanda Iden Howell August 3, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Love this birth story. You are so strong!!

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Laura H August 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm

How I needed to hear positive breech baby stories this week! Thank you for sharing! Amazing birth story. Way to go mama!

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Jen August 4, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I connected so much with your description of what it was like having a baby with shoulder dystocia- my youngest also had true SD (his chest measured an inch larger in diameter than his head, shoulders so broad!) and it was so odd mentally preparing to be done as soon as the head was out and having to just draw strength from God to get through those uncertain moments when my midwife and my husband were trying to pry him out as I continued to push. He is still an ox, he’s 4 now and is over 4 feet tall and 69 pounds. Loved this story and your precious pics!

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Jen The birthing lady August 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm

WOW, what a great miracle story. I love the trust you had in yourself, God, and your birthing team. Your story will help many other woman out there! Congrats on your cute baby.

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Tiffany Dorris August 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm

what an awesome and inspiring story. 12 pounds of perfect…congrats!
GOD is so good.

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Alexandra August 5, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Beautiful birthstory! Brought tears to my eyes.
I had my fourth child 8.5 months ago–at home, in water. He was 12 lbs and I was shocked! My first three were big, but not THAT big, and I had only gained 15 lbs during my pregnancy. I also did not have gestational diabetes (although medically-minded people certainly do assume it). I also did not tear and had a great recovery.
Thank you for sharing your story–it is very powerful and very beautiful, as you are.

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Terri August 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Thank you for your story! I am 38 weeks with a breech baby measuring close to 9 lb. – I have some of the best doctors in Los Angeles telling me that c-section is the only option because it doesn’t look like he is turning and he could get his head or shoulders caught in the birth canal because he is so big. Also told, “it can really tear you up” that c-section recovery would be easier than natural birth for a baby this big. I had such a beautiful natural birth with my first- so when I read stories like this I question my medical team…so sad how they all default to medical intervention and no one is trained to handle a natural breech these days.

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Sue January 22, 2013 at 3:53 am

Thanks for your story! I had a similar story with a nearly 12 lb baby. I love hearing big baby stories! Every woman grows a baby so she can birth him/her. Thanks for trusting your body and birth itself.

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Aileen January 22, 2013 at 7:49 am

Best birth story ever! I can feel your peace and trust in the process. I had that same peace with my third child. It brought back memories. :). I agree that medical advancement is a wonderful thing, when it’s really needed.

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Susan Courtney January 22, 2013 at 8:37 am

Beautiful story and congratulations on your gorgeous son. My baby girl was homebirthed in our spa and was only 7lb 9oz but she felt big enough! She is only 12lbs now and she is a week off being 6 months old – she’s just a pocket rocket.

I have read a few stories now of breech babies that were turned and were large and ended up with shoulder dystocia. I can’t help wondering if the risk of shoulder dystocia would actually be less if they came out feet/bum first as then you would get a gradual tapered increase in their size up to their shoulders as they are birthed.

I get really angry that you can’t have a midwife attend you in some US states if your baby is breech despite the fact that it’s been proven that it’s safer to vaginally birth a breech baby than deliver via C-section and C-sections are far more likely with a hospital birth… We have the same issue here in Australia if you are going through one of the very few hospital run homebirth programs – if your baby is breech, if you have gestational diabetes or if you test positive for Group B strep (which you might do today but not if you were tested tomorrow), you no longer qualify for a hospital midwife to attend your homebirth.

We didn’t have one of those programs at our country hospital, so we had to pay $4,000 for an Independent Midwife. But we paid her in regular small instalments, and she was worth every cent :)

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Camille April 4, 2013 at 2:34 am

So glad I found this! I’m 41 Weeks today. Had an ultrasound to check on the babe and she is breeched! See was breech at 34 Weeks but flipped after moxibustion, Webster, swimming, etc. so tomorrow I am going to see a Dr because my midwives will not attempt an incomplete breech vaginal birth and I don’t want to either. So I’m guessing the Dr will want to schedule AC section. It its the last thing I want so I’m going to work my butt off to get her to turn, I know if your 12lb baby can do it, so can mine…and hopefully I will get the water birth I’ve always wanted.

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