I was 24 years old and planning to have my first baby at home when I found out the baby was in a frank breech position. My wonderful midwife at the time obtained all the latest medical journals on breech birth so we could make an informed decision about the risks. After reading the data, we chose to go with a home waterbirth as the journal articles concluded that vaginal breech birth had a lower mortality rate for mother and baby than caesarean.
My waters broke and contractions started straight away. Unfortunately, since the baby’s bottom is a pretty poor dilator of the cervix, it was three and half days later that she was born (with 5 minutes contractions the whole way through).
I did not sleep during the entire labour and was exhausted by the end of it. I stayed calm and focused during the labour and had minimal monitoring by the midwife, as I had requested.
The bottom crowning
Eventually, the bottom was born and the legs followed. Both of my daughter’s arms were behind her head and my midwife skilfully brought them down alongside her body before the body was out. The body was born under water.
The body out (the cord was around her neck twice).
I knew I had a little girl at this point but her head was yet to be born. I also knew we were at the ‘three minute critical phase’ – she had to come out within three minutes as the placenta usually detaches once the body is born. I had no contractions at this point, was exhausted, but pushed for all I was worth anyway. The midwife inserted her little finger into my daughter’s mouth and lifted the body while I pushed and she was born – with the placenta on her head!
Sofia was born 5 pound, 10 ounces – one week overdue. Although she was blue, she was perfectly fine. She had a large bruise that covered one entire buttock (the presenting part) and I was a bit black and blue myself, but I had NO tears or episiotomy.
I did, however, have an incredibly supportive birth team including the tireless support of my wonderful husband.
It was the single most empowering moment of my life – even now 17 years later!