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Category: Breech Birth

Breech Birth Story {Frank Breech}

Breech Birth Story {Frank Breech}

In 2009 I became pregnant with my second child. I was very excited. My first birth had gone very well, easy, no complications, no interventions. After birthing an 8 lbs. 1 oz. posterior baby boy after only 4 hours of labor and 30 mins of pushing, I decided the second would be out of hospital.

We hired a great midwifery team. My pregnancy progressed normally, although I felt very tired and nauseated through most of it. We changed our birth location from birth center to home after talking to our midwife about the two options, and realizing that it made more sense to stay home to welcome our baby girl.

In late 2009 my husband accepted a job transfer to Houston, Texas (we are Canadian and were living in Edmonton, Alberta at the time). We decided that I would stay back with our soon to be 4 year old son, and he would make the move to Texas alone for the first few months, so I could continue my care with my midwives and our daughter could be born at home, in Canada. He left at the end of January 2010, our daughter expected to arrive mid March.

At 36 weeks, I went to my midwife appointment as normal. As my midwife palpitated my belly, she seemed to be taking longer than normal… “No, no, no baby”. My heart sank for just a moment and I said “Is she breech??” My midwife told me she thought the baby was breech, but she wanted me to have an ultrasound to confirm. She told me she would refer me to an OB, who would be able to confirm and if she was breech, we would go over options. She gave me some exercises to do (Breech Tilt, etc) and suggested a Webster Trained Chiropractor close to my home. She was very supportive.

I went home that day and called the Chiropractor to make an appointment. I attempted the breech tilt, but with my husband away I found it difficult to get into a good position. I researched ways to turn a breech baby, and tried ones I felt I could do on my own. The night before my appointment with the Chiropractor I got a call from the OB’s office saying they wanted to see me the following morning. I cancelled the Chiropractor and went in for my ultrasound. My husband was back in town for the appointment the next day. We went into the hospital, they hooked us up to an NST and I waiting for the OB. He came in, put the Ultrasound wand on my belly, and confirmed that my baby was breech. She was easily moved with the wand, and the OB said he was sure she would turn on her own. We agreed to come back in 2 weeks to check on things.

At my 37 week appointment with my midwives, my daughter was transverse. I thought that must be a sign that she was moving back into a good position, and I didn’t need to worry about it anymore. I continued to do what I thought would help turn her, but I never did go to the Chiropractor.

I went back to see the OB at 38 weeks. Breech. Again! He talked about the possibility of trying to manually turn her, but when he felt to see he position, she was engaged in my pelvis, and he was not able to move her. He told me I had some options to consider. I could opt for a cesarean or I could try a vaginal delivery with him in the hospital, knowing that if there were any signs of complications, I would have an emergency cesarean.

I cried on my drive home that day, this is not what I was expecting to hear. I was completely devastated. When I got home I immediately started researching, and continued to do so hours a day for about 4 days. I talked to my midwife, she assured me that whatever I chose they would be there to support me. In the end, I didn’t feel right about just signing up for major surgery if there was even a slight possibility that I could do this vaginally. We lived an hour and a half away from the hospital where the OB delivered, and with my first labor being only 4 hours, I talked to the OB about inducing. He reluctantly agreed, making sure to tell me that induction went against my own beliefs in natural child birth. I realize now how rare that kind of OB is.

I was due for the induction at 39 weeks, 4 days, on a Friday. Wednesday, I had my midwives sweep my membranes, in hopes that would be enough to start labor and be able to avoid the medical induction. They swept me 3 times on Wednesday, and I spent much of the day walking around, contracting every few minutes. It never amounted to anything. We dropped our son off with friends and stayed in a hotel close to the hospital for the 2 days prior to the induction in case labor did start.

On Friday morning I got up about 6:30am, ate breakfast, had a shower, and headed over to the hospital. We got there about 8am. They offered me a brochure on breech delivery, and told me that the OB had ordered the induction be done with Cervadil. They talked to me about what it was, how it worked, etc and then inserted it. I was 1-2cm. Contractions came every few minutes for hours, but they were not very strong, more annoying than anything. I walked around the maternity floor, and hung out with my husband for much of the day, just chatting, trying to sleep, etc. My midwife told me to call her when active labor started, so I had them check me about 5pm and I was 5cm!! They removed the cervidal at that point, and I labored on from there. I called my midwife and she arrived about an hour later.

Active labor continued as normal. At one point, I can’t really recall at what point, they told me my baby was no longer engaged and was sitting transverse. At that point they hooked me up to an IV incase an emergency cesarean was required. I felt very limited by the IV and I spent much of the next few hours, sitting in bed. They checked me at 7cm, and a few hours later, still 7cm…..the OB came in and offered some additional augmentation. I declined and he agreed to give me 2 more hours. That was 8pm. My baby had turned again and was frank breech. At that point my midwife suggested that I get out of bed, empty my bladder and try to get mobile.

I got out of bed, emptied my bladder and tried to walk around. Contractions were very strong at that point, and I could feel my legs shaking under me. I leaned on my husband, but quickly requested a birth ball. I sat on the ball at the end of my bed, rested my arms and head on the bed, and swayed slowly. My husband sat on one side of me and my midwife on the other. They were so supportive, rubbing my back, and just sitting quietly while I went through the most intense experience I have ever had. I was getting hot flashes and was shaking uncontrollably, my midwife was so wonderful at reminding me to relax my shoulders and breathe.

About 10pm, right about the time my OB was going to come back to check my progress, I felt my water break. I felt the warm gush of fluid and stood up. Water flowed out of me at what seemed like record amounts. I felt intense pressure and knew that it was almost time to push. I made my way to the bed, because I felt too weak to stand. Once I got into the bed, I started pushing. I heard someone yell “She’s pushing, 10:05pm, get the doctor.” My OB came in, I don’t think he said anything, if he did, I don’t remember. I felt a lot of bodies in the room, I knew there would be, but I didn’t expect to feel it. The urge to push was strong and uncontrollable. I had remembered that same feeling with my son. I tore badly with my son, and tried to push gently to avoid that this time around. I heard the OB say that her feet were out. One more push and I had my daughter. 10:13pm. I felt her body on my chest and looked up. I only saw her feet. Moments later they took her from my chest and moved her across the room to the warmer. It seemed like it was miles away, but I could see her, and she was beautiful.

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It wasn’t long before I had my baby back in my arms, all 7lbs of her. My midwife told me that after her feet were out, the OB let go, and while he was waiting for the back of her head to emerge, the strength of my push sent her flying out of my body, and he caught her mid air.

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I am a doula now, thanks in no small part to this experience. I was not a doula then, and didn’t know everything I know now, but I knew enough to trust my body and my baby. I knew enough to ignore the negativity around me, and the all the people telling me I was stupid for even trying and to just get a cesarean. I owned my birth, I did it on my terms and I will forever be able to tell my story, without regrets.

Breech Cesarean Birth

Breech Cesarean Birth

When I was 18 I fell pregnant with my first daughter. I’m 4ft 10 and then I was a size 6 so a very very small build (my now husband is 6ft4 need I say more lol).

They discovered she was breech at 35 weeks with a following scan at 36 to double check. The awkward little bugger was in such a rare position they were a bit confused by it- she had her bum and one leg/foot slightly engaged and her head and other foot completely jammed under my ribs. As a follow up we had a consultant meeting where they pretty much told us there wasn’t a chance in hell they could turn her because of her position and my size. They offered a turning procedure but he kept saying how it probably wouldn’t work and it would just cause me pain and our daughter distress, because of this I opted not to have one and go ahead with a planned section.

I had no knowledge of any other information at that point in time and was very young and naive, I believed they must be right because they were medical professionals. It’s only now I look back and realise how little information they gave me and how much they swayed any decisions I had. I also made the decision on a young and naive perspective of “yay, I’ll get to see her sooner”, and supposedly it was the easy way out as the media portrayed. How foolish I was. I had no one to talk to about sections, and nowhere for information, I literally was walking in blind.

At 38 weeks, with still no planned c-section booked, my waters broke naturally at home. I panicked, I hadn’t been told what to do if this happened, we rang the hospital and they got us straight up there. I had a check two hours after my waters broke and was 5cm. After an hour of monitoring I couldn’t feel any contractions at all, I hadn’t had any medication, but the midwives insisted that they were coming thick and fast. I became somewhat of a talking point. I insisted an hour later that they needed to check again – I felt like they were just standing around chin-wagging while I was in full panic mode. I didn’t know what was going to happen or why I couldn’t feel the contractions, I thought it was my fault, that I must have done something wrong. They checked again and after just an hour I was now 8cm.

They all flustered, I had people coming in and injecting me, people taking my BP etc. People fussed around me; I don’t even know what they were doing, and all this time no one explained anything to me. It was so busy – the women with the section form was standing at the back in the corner literally shouting across what it said. I don’t even remember signing it and could not tell you what it said to this day with everything going on around me.

They ordered a wheelchair to take me to the theatre but I refused, I wanted to walk. I remember the women looking at me like I was crazy, and treating me like a china doll that would break any minute the whole way down. I remember wanting the control, I didn’t know what was going on, I was scared and nervous and the choice to walk I still had control over. That was my decision, it was my way of putting my stamp on things. I could walk in my own time (much to the women’s dismay) and take it all in. It gave me that precious few moments to breathe before they all nagged and tugged and pulled at me again.

I got to theatre, sat up on the bed and had the spinal. I laid down. I was terrified. Never In my life had I been somewhere like that, and they wanted to operates on me?! I remember thinking “but only pooly people get operated on and I’m not poorly. I just want to have my baby” but that was shut away pretty quickly as I was struggling to breathe.

They had not taken into account my height or small frame and had given me too much in the spinal. It had begun to paralyse the use of my lungs. Again they all flustered and shouted clinical things I didn’t understand at each other. I remember one women with an ice cube on my chest, she kept rubbing it over and over asking if I could still feel it. I remember looking at her like “duh, yeah, I did just say that…”, she was annoying me and scaring me. She kept fiddling with things and pushing and prodding me (I realise now she was probably making sure the spinal didn’t reach my heart or anything vital). Whilst all this was going on my daughter was born.

The surgeon proudly pronounced that it was the fastest section he had ever done, six minutes flat. I personally felt this was rude and uncalled for, I was not a timed peice of meat. I was scared and no one was telling me anything. The section itself as any other cesarean women will tell you is such a surreal feeling, you can feel the hands of someone else internally, inside you, moving around and you have no control over it. Then wooosh, baby just plops out, that little thing that has taken residence the last 9 months just woosh, taken straight out. It doesn’t descend slowly or bubble out with love, just woosh and out. Nothing more and nothing less in my experience.

They told me she was ok and took her to the table to be weighed, suddenly nothing else in that room mattered, just her and her wonderful little screaming lungs. I strained to see her, people kept touching her. I wanted to hold her. They brought her over and told us her weight and allowed my partner to hold her. I got to see an eye and a nose from my angle, I just wanted to squeeze her with love but I couldn’t.

cesarean birth

My partner and my daughter left and I was stitched up. I went on to see her and cuddle her in the after care waiting place. Later I got frustrated because I couldn’t get her myself on the ward, I couldn’t do things a mum should be doing because of my section and I started to resent it. I did not in a million years expect the pain or burning that accompanied the section. It was NOT the easy way out! I refused to stay in hospital, I wanted my partner and I wanted to be at home in my own bed.

I astounded staff my checking all their needed check points in record time. Even with my increased spinal, just 8 hours after having her I got out of bed and attempted to walk. They insisted I couldn’t but I proved them wrong and insisted I was ok, an hour later taking first shower alone and unassisted. It was hard. Really really hard – words fail me. I didn’t want to tell them. I stayed in there well over an hour not because I wanted to but because I was stuck and refused to tell them different. I wanted to go home. I left the shower room and proudly strode (as well as I could) back to my bed with my head held high. I made sure the nurses seen it.

Naively I didn’t know you bled after a section I thought they sucked it out for you in the procedure. That was a shock going to the toilet! But I gave the nurses a sample (I over heard another women in the day and assumed I was meant to with my first wee luckily), and just over 24 hours after the procedure I was home, safe, in the arms of my partner with our new baby girl and happy.

Looking back I wish I had a page like Birth Without Fear. I wish I had of known where to get information and not been so naive about it. I wish there was more awareness as they just expect you to know. And most of all I wish more than anything someone had of told me how having a section can change everything in subsequent pregnancies, like the birth of my little boy 14 months later – a failed VBAC story but that’s for another day! I wish I’d have had the knowledge about breech babies and Spinning Babies so that I could have made my own informed decision. Both my births might have been entirely different, but I wouldn’t be the strong minded person I am today without them.

I am strong because after all the trauma in both my births and suffering from PND after having my second child I can look back and be thankful for it all. It has made me the person I am today. Strong and empowered.  It’s not often enough I get to talk about my first birth experience.

Breech Birth Story {Cesarean After Unexpected Breech Presentation}

Breech Birth Story {Cesarean After Unexpected Breech Presentation}

My first pregnancy was normal and uneventful until I had a partial placental abruption at 27 weeks.  The partial abruption had no adverse effects on my pregnancy but to scare me half to death.

At an ultrasound preformed at 29 weeks to check on my son and the placenta we found that my son was still breech.  This really worried me because for some unfounded reason, I had been afraid my son would be breech since the beginning of the pregnancy.  The pregnancy continued on uneventfully.

As I got farther along, I started asking my OB what position my son was in because I was worried that he was still breech.  They told me there was no point in checking until around 36 weeks because babies could still flip a lot.  At my 35.5 week check up they did an internal exam and said my son was head down.  I was so relieved!  I still honestly didn’t understand how I could have the bumps and kicks where they were, and where they weren’t (never in my ribs), and have my child be head down, but I trusted my doctor.

I should have trusted my gut.

I had 3 more internal exams and was told he was head down every time.  The bumps and kicks never changed location.

I went into labor at 5 days before my due date.  My contractions were very irregular, they would be 10 minutes apart but last 2 minutes or only 3 minutes apart and last 20 seconds.  I wasn’t fully convinced I was in labor until my water broke.  We got to the hospital and a nurse checked to see how dilated I was and exclaimed, “I feel another hole!”. My first thought was “my baby has a hole in his head!”.  They emergency paged my doctor who came in and said I was 9 cm dilated and my baby was breech.  She told me I needed an emergency c-section.

They then ran me down the hall toward the OR.  One of the nurses actually fell on the way and they left her laying on the ground.  I remember thinking that I must be in trouble if they were that urgent. By the time they got me to the OR I was doing the breathing exercises I learned in my birthing class to avoid pushing.  I was put under general anesthesia and woke up in the recovery room some time later.

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I had no idea where I was or what was happening.  A nurse had to tell me I had delivered a baby.  My first thought as a mother was “I am a terrible mother, I didn’t even remember that I’d had a baby”.  They finally got me back to my room where I met my healthy baby boy but I don’t remember much of that first meeting.  We went on to successfully nurse for 16 months and he is now a happy almost 4 year-old boy.

Kids!

In response to my story, many people tell me “doctors make mistakes”.  That is true, but how would you feel if they made that mistake on YOU?  Many people tell me I need to “get over” his delivery because I got a healthy baby.  When did the physical and mental health of the mother become so easy to ignore?

My next pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage.  This was followed by a pregnancy with placenta previa.  My previa daughter was delivered at 36 weeks due to excessive bleeding.  We had a rough start but she is now a happy, healthy 22 month old.  This December I delivered my second son vaginally.  He is my VBA2C baby and I am so proud and happy that I was the first to hold him.

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It has been a long journey from that first pregnancy and I have learned so much about myself and childbirth.  I was so ignorant the first time around.  If I could have women learn anything from my story it is to trust your gut.  I knew my baby was breech, but never pressed the issue because I trusted my doctors.

Breech Cesarean Birth {After Spontaneous Labour}

Breech Cesarean Birth {After Spontaneous Labour}

We knew at 34 weeks that Parker was frank breech. Every one kept saying she’d turn. I tried spinning babies exercises to turn her; every thing. I was desperate to have VB, so I agreed to the versions. Her butt was just stuck. It was so painful. The doctor moved her head from side to side, but she would never turn. He said he’d never had an unsuccessful go at it. Well I was his first. I went home heart broken but with hope that she would turn.

I was scheduled for a section on April 3rd. He could have done the week before, but I chose her birthday to be 4/3/12 (plus that’d give her some time). Husband and I moved into our new house that weekend. I set up our house, focusing specifically on baby stuff. I was distracting myself from the sadness I felt. Didn’t buy formula. Didn’t set up a crib. Just stalked the fridge and washed some nursing tops. That’s what I had planned on doing for a few weeks. Introducing my baby to a loving home, loving parents, and tons of boob juice.

I ended up going into labor on Monday, April 2nd. In the middle of an exciting National Championship for our beloved Kansas Jayhawks. I labored at home for a while, still hoping she’d turn. Finally at midnight we went to the hospital.

Parker Kate was born via c-section, at 2:26am, on a stormy Oklahoma night.

No family held her before me. No one saw her before me. Every one respected my wishes.

breech cesarean

breech cesarean after spontaneous labour

My birth story saddens me. This isn’t the birth I wanted, but I was scared. Parker is now a thriving almost one year old, and although her birth still haunts me from time to time, she was worth it. She’s happy, healthy, and absolutely beautiful (and still breast feeding/co-sleeping).

Unassisted Footling Breech Birth {Unplanned Homebirth}

Unassisted Footling Breech Birth {Unplanned Homebirth}

I woke in the early hours with pains, and called hospital who advised to wait it out – contractions were roughly 15min apart. I called back around 6am before my partner went to work, and was still advised to stay home. We figured things were ok, partner went to work (an hour away).

The pains got more intense so I jumped in the shower until the water went cold, then I got out and called my partner who said to call the hospital and then call him back. The contractions were about 5-8min apart but I could talk through them, and hospital told me to wait it out: “it’s your first, you could be like this for days”.

I called my partner back and he said he would head home, so I called my mum who lived over an hour away. While on the phone my waters broke, I headed to the bathroom (still talking to mum) and advised her I needed the toilet.

I sat down and felt some pressure, as I felt between my legs I felt two feet.

My mum called 000 who called me back & conference-called my mum in.

15min later after some coaching and about 6 pushes my beautiful daughter was born, before the ambulance arrived! Home alone on the bathroom floor my beautiful girl came into the world feet first. 20min after waters breaking she was here & safe!

My cousin & his wife beat the ambulance (and daddy!), and helped get her wrapped and warm.

[Mummy & Ava – a day and a half after it happened because with all the rush we forgot the camera]

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[The bathroom where it all happened]

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My daughter is now 4yrs old and lives her life in exactly the same manner she entered the world – fast, feet first and running – she does not stop. She now also has a little sister who is 3 (15mths age gap) who is very similar in personality… my labor with her was 5hrs total, my waters broke and she was born 8 minutes later…. very fast and furious.
Twyla’s Journey from the Stars {A Breech Home Birth}

Twyla’s Journey from the Stars {A Breech Home Birth}

December 10th.

This nesting business is no joke. I feel like I’m about to sweep a hole through the tile floor. I could serve a 4 course meal in my bathroom, off my toilet even. At least up until the point I walked in and sat down to discover I had just lost my plug. I phone my midwife, Claudette. My first labor was prodromal for three days, then after an amniotomy, 2 hours of hard, fast labor. We all agreed that I should alert everybody at the first signs of impending labor.

As the day went on, my contractions continued. My dear friend N stopped by and began timing them for me. 8 minutes apart! This continued for several hours. I decided to head to the grocery store for our weekly rations, and N joined us. I found myself wandering around, somewhat confused. Seems some endorphins were already having their way with my brain.I paced back and forth down the aisles unable to commit to putting anything in my cart. I finally bought some celery and carrots and hightailed it out of there. By the time I got home, my contractions had slowed to one every half hour or so. I cried a little, fearing I was falling into the pattern of my first labor, which I had no desire to repeat in any way. I phoned Claudette again, and we agreed to meet in the morning. She advised me to get some rest, as it seemed we would meet this little Breechy soon. Taking her advice, hubby and I took a quick soak in the hot tub and then nestled under the sheets.

December 11th.

10 hours later I tucked and rolled out of bed feeling like a million bucks. (Haven’t done that in almost a year now!)

Mylabor

Claudette stopped by to listen to Webbie’s heart rate, check position, (yep, still breech!) and at my request, check my dilation for the first time in this pregnancy. I was 100% effaced, 4 centimeters dilated and stretchy.

I just want to take a moment and say how great it was to welcome her into my home to take care of me. I had never experienced a “house call” before. An exam on my own bed, not on some crunchy paper with my legs in stirrups!

Hubs, eldest daughter and I all headed out to take care of some errands and to enjoy the day. We picked up our mail, and were eating lunch when I excused myself to the ladies room. Oh lovely, more plug! Still no regular contractions. We dropped off our sweet girl with her other daddy and went to pick up a few things from the mall. While wandering (note: following the Mister) around the hardware department of Sears I noticed I was feeling pressure, regular pressure. I spent some time sitting on the bottom shelves there pondering whether or not to phone Claudette again while he looked at tools. I laugh now when I think of the clerk who approached me and asked if I needed anything. He told me he and his wife have 5 boys, and I had “that look, those rosy cheeks of a woman about to go into labor at any moment.” (I need to hire this guy into my practice, right?!) About a half hour later, in Radio Shack, I started timing these pressure sensations.

I saw that they were 5 minutes apart, on the dime, yet I felt no tightening, no cramping, as I had been feeling with my Braxton Hicks the week prior.

After an hour of these, I called Claudette and updated her. Neither of us really could tell if this was the real deal or not, it was just so…strange. It felt like a spreading, from the inside, pressure on my hips and tailbone, but absolutely no uterine contraction. It was almost as if she was burrowing down, nestling deep into my pelvis every five minutes. What a beautiful, gentle sensation it was to feel labor starting all on its own!

I began to feel a real need to be at home, so we headed out. On our way, we stopped to take pictures of the sunset, and when we got home, spent about a half hour out in the front yard photographing and enjoying the moon. I am so grateful to have these pictures! To have captured the essence of the night our baby was born forever!

Moon

I remember one of our neighbors coming over and talking to my husband while I was taking pictures.

“Whoa, looks like she’s ready any time, eh?”

“Actually we think she might be in early labor right now.”

“Um. Wow, so getting ready to head out to the hospital then?”

“No, just inside. We are having the baby here…”

Poor guy turned white as a ghost and looked at my husband like he was a crazy fool!

We went inside and closed the door, laughing and wondering if our neighbors would call the cops when they heard me moaning through transition. We had notified only one of our neighbors, but with plans to labor in the backyard in our hot tub, soon everyone in a 2 block radius may be wondering who was murdering (or pleasuring!) the woman in her backyard!

During my pregnancy, my husband would tease me about prostaglandins and the horizontal polka, always finishing with “I put her in there, just let me know when you want me to tell her to get out!”

Ok, big shot! Let’s see!

A half hour and many giggles and I love you forever’s later, my contractions got serious.

“Oooohhh…. CALL THE MIDWIFE!” I crooned sweetly from the bedroom at my husband who thought he was making himself a sandwich.

What seemed like 3 minutes later Dana materialized at our doorway. She was our midwife’s assistant, and lived about 10 minutes away, though I honestly believe that both of them teleported to my house…or drove 90 miles an hour, they got to us SO FAST!

Claudette arrived about 5 minutes after Dana, with several rolling suitcases and other miscellaneous baggage. I felt pretty bad about calling them out at this hour, considering they would just have to pick all this stuff up and go home when my labor stalled, I thought, watching them lay out birthing supplies, unpacking my kit, tenderly setting our baby’s first outfit beside 3 little hats and several receiving blankets. I thought about all the effort they were going through, all the meticulous care they were taking getting things prepared just so. Oxygen tanks, resuscitation equipment, heating pads, anti-hemorrhage drugs in little vials lined up just so on my coffee table…all for a woman who is not really in “true” labor. The fact that I was having all these apologetic thoughts as I stood naked in my living room wasn’t a true indication of active labor to me, I suppose.

I retreated into my bedroom to give my hypnobirthing training a go. Basically, to lie down, breathe deeply, and relax all the tension from my body. Or not.

Lying down was NOT OK. It made my contractions feel like my torso was an aluminum can someone was twisting into a rope and then stepping on.

OK!  Well, that was what I was counting on here! I panicked. If this wasn’t going to work, then I was screwed. SO SCREWED. I knew what a hard labor felt like, and the thought that I was going to experience that again right now made me want to die.

I decided to try out the hot tub, as I planned to do most of my laboring there. My husband made me a beautiful enclosed canopy and hung twinkling little lights all throughout the inside. I climbed in, had two contractions in there and climbed right back out! I needed to move, and at this point, gave up on trying the ‘Just Be a Limp Noodle Method’. I went back inside and stood by the fire, trying to become as fluid as the flames, letting the pain resonate through me and out, not trapping it within.

It took me a half hour or so to get into the rhythm of it, to let go of the fear of it, and to simply be an obedient bystander at this great show. To SURRENDER. My body said MOVE. So I did.

With Mister on my heels fanning me vigorously, I zoomed down the hall into the kitchen and back, several times and to my surprise, found it to be completely manageable. After a few “runs” I began to feel like a mama panther. I paced my house back and forth huffing, growling and tossing my head, eyes dilated and sightless. At times I almost broke into a run even…when appropriate.   I imagined myself hiking naked under the moon, in the cold December night air. It sounded so amazing, and the absolute most appropriate thing to do. I told hubby this, and headed for the front door. He gently steered me away and back down the hall. I complained, but in the back of my mind knew that it probably wasn’t a good idea, us living in a suburban neighborhood and all, a naked woman in labor might prompt my neighbors to call enforcements of some kind, which I agreed would be annoying and disruptive.

I noticed that during the absolute peak of contractions I would pause with my pacing to rock my hips in belly dance-style movements. In the back of my mind I pictured women in ancient Egypt and how many of them must have danced their babies out just like I was that night.

After a while I ended up in my older daughter’s room. I paced back and forth, squatted and swung my arms up and down like metronomes to the beat of my labor. At several points I looked over and noticed the cat curled up on a little table, watching me with a slightly irritated look on her face for disturbing her slumber with all my blubbering. It was really reassuring and amusing- to realize that amidst all my internal chaos I was still on earth, in our home, in my daughter’s room… and the cat was annoyed.

Soon I began to feel very tired. The lovely endorphins were kicking in, and I felt boozy. Between them I would lean over and rest my head, almost falling asleep. As soon as I was comfy and dozing off another pressure wave would build and I would have to get up and swing my arms, power walk and squat when all I wanted to do was SLEEP.

During contractions I started talking to her.

“OOOOOOUUUUUUUUTTT BABY, COME DOOOOOWWWWWWWN BABY, Yesss baby, I want to meet you, I want to hold you… to kiss you… “

I was getting exhausted. Though I had only been in labor for 6 hours at this point, my contractions had been coming a minute apart for the last 2.5 hours.

I made my way into my kitchen where the midwives were sitting at the table eating chocolate, laughing and drinking tea. “I’m tired.” I announced, waiting for them to give me the magic solution to my problem. They looked at each other and smiled. “Do you want me to check you?” Claudette asked. I declined and retreated back to my cave for more pacing.

10 minutes later I was back. “Can you check me now?” She agreed and followed me to my room. Thus far she had asked me only one other time during my labor if I wanted to be checked, when I went in to announce that I had some bloody show earlier, shortly after they arrived. I had avoided it so far out of fear of my water breaking during/after the check. I had labored before with broken waters and much preferred this, thank you. Though at this point I think I was nearing the end of my energy reserve and wanted some feedback.

In between contractions she knelt down and checked me as I leaned forward onto my dresser and rested. I was 7 cms dilated in the front, and 9 in the back.

She went on to explain that though it was a good coping mechanism for me to run laps around the house, it wasn’t doing what needed to be done. I wasn’t allowing the baby to hold the pressure on my cervix which is what it would take to move things along quicker. She suggested that I do lunges during contractions, and remain still.

Someone might as well have told me to place my hand in a fire and sit still as my skin blistered and melted off my bones…but I knew she was right, and I had to try.

I took a deep breath and put my foot up on my daughter’s bookshelf as I felt another one building. I steeled myself and prepared for massive agony.

I could feel my pelvis open up like a clothespin, joints at the maximum extension, then a little more. I felt so crampy and achy down low, then lower. Standing still gave me a chance to notice and really feel what was happening within me, and it almost felt good! I made low noises, attempting to let some of the insanely intense energy out of me, and then it was done.

Alright, I thought, I can do this!

I went back into my room and into the bathroom and started restlessly folding the towels draped over the shower door. I had an incredible urge to nest, even this far into my labor! I paced back and forth in the bathroom between contractions. I felt another one coming, and got into the suggested lunging position. As it wound down, I felt my belly curl over, and a telltale grunt followed.

Pushing time! YAY!

I love pushing. I happen to be one of those women who is incredibly efficient at pushing, my first only taking 18 minutes. I was sooo almost done!

I suggested Hubbs to RUN and fetch the midwives as our baby was on her way!

Claudette appeared in my room seconds later, asking to check me again before I started pushing. Being that we were attempting a breech birth, it was important that I be fully dilated and then some if possible for the safest delivery.

I was complete…with a lip… darn!

She asked me to wait, if I could and keep up with the lunges.

I took a deep breath and lifted my leg up onto the ottoman at the foot of our bed. Dana was sitting on our bed peacefully, watching it all unfold. I looked at her, through her, as the pressure wave grew stronger. Time stood still. I flared my nostrils and took in as much air as my lungs would allow. I felt my cervix stretch over our baby as she passed through it and filled me to bursting below. Deep inside I felt the screaming intensity of post orgasmic sensitivity and heat. I was a tuning fork, my entire body ringing with the energy of birth, the cosmic power of earth moving through my bones. I went blind. I saw grasses blowing in the wind, clouds drifting through the night sky, heard my heart pounding in my ears as I ran and jumped off a cliff. And I was falling, soaring…  Complete peace and stillness. Looking back on this, I nearly tear up and feel overcome with emotion and awe, even though I can hardly touch but the hem of that incredible moment. Those last few contractions before our baby was born were an incredibly spiritual experience. The kind of stuff one goes looking for on the other side of DMT, LSD, or Iowaska. I compare my experience to a type of vision quest. The sort of thing that pushes your body and soul to the edge of the abyss, one foot in life, one in death. To stand there rooted, yet flexible, simply existing and allowing the forces to crash into you, through you, fearlessly…peacefully. Pain disappears, agenda evaporates, all things seem trivial and illusory in that place. All is one, and all is well.

A split second later I snapped to and felt something between my legs. I pulled down my underwear quickly and saw the milky-clear bag of waters ballooning out from me. I could see the clear water swirling around with bits of blood and vernix incased within a globe. It grew larger and larger then burst with a loud pop all over the floor.

Immediately the urge to push was unavoidable.

I was vaguely aware of Dana running supplies in from the living room (My original planned birthing space) as fast as she could while Claudette supported my bottom with oils, washcloths and counter pressure. How wonderful! It never occurred to them to ask me to move! (Reason number 10,364 why home birth and home birth midwives ROCK!)

My husband was sitting on the bed in front of me, I squeezed his hands, and let go. I felt her body stretch mine to the limit, and then begin to part from me.

I felt everything, and it was glorious.

I looked down in between my legs and heard Claudette’s delighted chuckle- “She’s peeing on me!!”

I could see her little buns sticking out, cupped in Claudette’s palm. I shut my eyes tight and pushed her out into the hands that have caught thousands before.

Emptiness. A river of fluid down my legs. A baby crying!

She passed her through my legs and set her on the bed. “Short cord, ok?”

(AH! Short cord! Breech babies are usually breech for a reason…if I had gone through with the external version, it could have snapped her cord, possibly killing us both.)

I looked at my new daughter. Wide eyed, crying, chubby, beautiful, and cooked to perfection! I tried to scoop her up to my chest but her cord was too tight. I set her back down on the bed and cradled her up in my hands and crooned “Hiiiiiii babyyyyyy…There you are”

She settled down for a moment then cried some more. She pinked up right away and needed no suctioning! With their help I scooted up on the bed to lie down with my fluffy pink delicious newborn.

(My own bed! Yes!!)

They checked her over and deemed her perfect, (of course she is!) and with hardly a bruise on her bum. Claudette took me to the bathroom to get cleaned up and dressed (My own bathroom! Score!) while Daddy got to snuggle with his precious little girl for the very first time.

A while later we weighed her, she was a yummy 6 lb 13.5oz and 19 inches long.

Claudette checked me out and found me intact, not a tear in sight. (For those of you who are wondering if birthing a backwards bub renders your cash and prizes unusable, I will have you know I was back in the saddle a week later, and good as new within 3 months, so the answer is no! I’ve never had a single issue of any sort “down there” before or after children. I get that question a lot. Nutrition and exercise, people!)

I was on top of the world.

I did it! WE did it!

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I had my little Breechy at home, and it was even more amazing than I thought it could be. I ate some food and drank tea, then invited my mom and sister over for a sneak peek of the new baby. There was so much love there, people… No resentment, confusion or sadness, no wanting, no pain.  Just pure respect and love.

A few hours later, Claudette tucked us in and kissed me on the forehead, turning the lights off behind her as she left.

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Midwife: Claudette Coughenour, New Life Birthing Services

Photography: Babymoon Birth Services and family

“It was the single most empowering moment of my life!” {Frank Breech Homebirth In Water}

“It was the single most empowering moment of my life!” {Frank Breech Homebirth In Water}

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

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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).

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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!

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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.

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It was the single most empowering moment of my life – even now 17 years later!

Midwife-Assisted Footling Breech Hospital Birth

Midwife-Assisted Footling Breech Hospital Birth

Early on in my pregnancy I had done a lot of research and reading and thinking and I was strongly considering the idea of a homebirth. I was doing my ante-natal care with a team midwifery practice out of a public hospital that supported this. The midwife assigned to me was really supportive of this choice and I would also have my mum there who is a midwife of about 35 years experience and attended many breech births. However, a fibroid I had that was 9cm and was not just on the surface of the uterus but had grown into the myometrium (the next muscle layer). This meant that I was no longer a suitable candidate for home birth due to the risk of a bleed. So we had no choice but to opt for the delivery suite. As I got further along in my pregnancy and my baby was still breech, I was doing moxibustion and acupuncture to try and encourage my baby to turn. None of this was working so at 36+3 weeks I consulted an obstetrician about having an ECV. I was booked for a scan at 37 weeks to ensure all was ok with the baby and scheduled for the ECV at 37+3 weeks. When viewing the baby on the scan, it was very clear that she was in the frank breech position with the head up under my left ribs and her feet up under my right ribs with the bottom well down into the pelvis. We went ahead with the ECV but baby absolutely refused to budge.

On Tuesday morning, 20/12/11 I was 39 weeks I woke up with pretty bad hip pain but didn’t think too much of it as I’d been getting that most mornings for the previous week. I knew my sister in law was coming around with my niece and nephew and my other 2 sisters in law (also pregnant and due 13 days before me and 5 days after me respectively) were coming around for a bump photo then I was going to go shopping with Mum.

Mum ducked by around 11am so she could be there when my niece and nephew got there and noticed the pain I was having. By this stage I also had some mild period like pains coming and going but figured that although it might be related to labour it would probably just be a sign of things getting ready to happen in a week or 2. Mum said she thought it might be early labour but it could fizzle out so just manage the pain. So I took 2 Panadeine and muddled through my sister in law and the kids being there then Mum left and I dealt with my other 2 sisters in law coming for the photos. By the time they left at 3pm the pain was really uncomfortable so I rang Mum and asked if she would come pick me up and take me to her place for a bath. I prepared everything just in case and rang Dan (my husband) at work to let him know where I’d be.

I got to Mum’s, got in the bath and the relief was amazing. The pains were still coming very irregularly when Dan arrived. I went for a walk down the backyard and then sat on Mum and Dad’s back deck with Dan. They got closer together and more intense so I got back in the bath. The pains eased and got further apart again but by 6-6:30 they had established a fairly regular pattern of 4 minutes apart. Mum had examined me on the Monday and I was 3cm dilated and she debated whether or not to examine me again in case I hadn’t gone any further and got disheartened. She did, and I was 5cm. (Yay!) We rang my midwife who had been my primary prenatal caregiver and told her what was happening and she said she’d get things prepared and ring back around 8pm to see how things were going. I went for another walk and the contractions got stronger and closer so I got back in the bath for relief.

My midwife rang back at about 8:45pm and said she wasn’t on call so to text her when we decided to go up to the hospital. Mum had rung delivery suite earlier in the day and asked the midwife in charge of that shift if the only delivery suite room with a bath was free… it was and they said they’d hold it for us as long as possible. It got to around 9:30pm and we were thinking that, even though I was coping with the pain in the bath at home, if we didn’t go then we risked losing the room with the bath and it would be better to go up and get settled while I was still reasonably comfortable.

I got out of the bath and between there, getting dressed and getting to the car I had about 3 contractions in 5 minutes. We got up to the hospital and got out of the car and it took ages to get up to delivery suite as I was having contractions every 10 steps I took. Someone walking past as we were in the hospital foyer asked if I needed a wheelchair and Mum said, “Nope, she’ll be fine”, then asked if I wanted the lift or the stairs. I said, “F*** the stairs”. It was pretty funny.

We got into the room and I had to do some monitoring and have my first dose of IV antibiotics for GBS. Once my waters broke, I had been told by the obstetrician who had attempted the ECV that I would require constant monitoring. This meant that until then, I could be in the bath as long as I wanted but after that I would need to be out. My midwife negotiated that I would be able to spend 15 minutes every hour back in the bath with her monitoring the foetal heart rate every 5 minutes. All good…

So once initial monitoring was done, I got in the bath. I had to get Dan to help me in as it was really deep and I couldn’t get in without feeling like I was going to fall. Dan sat up on the edge of the bath behind me and I leaned back against his legs. One of the obstetricians who Mum had organised to back me up for a natural delivery came to examine me and said I was about 4-5cm. She apparently then went out to the desk that she didn’t think I would do very well and would probably need a c/s. After about half an hour, (around 10:30pm I think) I asked for the gas. I was seriously considering all pain relief options including epidural at this point but figured I should start with something a bit less drastic and see how I went. I asked for it to be increased twice throughout the labour and by the time I stopped using it I had gotten it up to a level just a bit above 50/50.

Around 12 or so I started having contractions that didn’t really feel like they were completely going in between and at the end of some of them I was having an uncontrollable urge to push. At this stage my waters still hadn’t broken so Mum and my midwife decided to let me stay in the bath as I was coping quite well where I was, especially with my midwife coaching my breathing through every contraction. At 12:35 the urge to push became consistent and far more intense on every contraction. Suddenly I felt a really odd sensation and I said, ‘Something just came out.’ Mum looked and got this stunned look on her face. ‘It’s your bag of waters Laura and it’s still intact…wow…that’s really rare!!’ I reached down and had a feel and it was the weirdest feeling. Kind of like a really soft water balloon. After a couple more contractions they burst. They decided to let me stay in the water just a little longer as I was still coping reasonably well.

Mum said they could see contractions coming before I could feel them as the amniotic fluid would start gushing. A couple of contractions after my waters broke I pushed again and felt something else come out and I said so. As the amniotic fluid settled, Mum and my midwife were watching to see what it was. There was silence… Apparently at this point Mum and Nancy looked at each other and Mum mouthed, ‘Oh shit!’ I asked what it was and Mum said, ‘Um, 2 feet.’ I looked down and floating in the water were these 2 little feet facing the same way as mine…she was spine to spine. I said, ‘Shit, that wasn’t supposed to happen.’ That image of those feet in the water is something I will never forget for as long as I live. Apparently bub had decided to do a little manoeuvring since the scan I’d had in preparation for my ECV and stuck her feet down. Another midwife was in the room at this point and Mum told her to double buzz for an obstetrician as was required but they were all busy in theatre so Mum said, ‘Righto Laura, you just have to do this. Get out of the bath.’ I was thinking, ‘Is she bloody kidding me??? There is no way I can get up out of this thing that I was lowered into in the first place.’ So they let the water out on me. Mum then told the 3rd midwife to call for someone from NICU which I panicked a bit about but Mum quickly reassured me that it was protocol for breech babies.

I ended up getting onto all fours and pushed a bit more and the baby came out up to the thighs. They got me standing and tried to get me to get out of the bath but I just didn’t have the strength in my legs and was worried about hurting the baby so I got 1 leg on the side of the bath and pushed. This time, she came out up to her chest and as she did she rotated herself so she was no longer posterior. On the next push she was pretty much all out except her head and arms. Mum and my midwife both had hold of her body and Mum reached up to pull the arms out but before she could I pushed again and after just 6 hours 5 minutes of established labour and only 23 minutes of pushing, at 12:58am her head came out.

She gave a little cry, Dan cut the cord and the guy from NICU took her to the trolley and checked her over and said, ‘I’ve just wiped her off Lorraine, there’s nothing wrong with her, you can give her back to her mother.’ I was asking what it was and Dan looked at me crying and said, ‘It’s girl!’ I sat on the bed and they gave her to Dan to give to me and I fell in love in an instant! I was in complete awe of her and couldn’t believe that I had made something so beautiful and perfect.

Charlotte Mackenzie weighed 3800g (8lb 6oz), 53.5cm long and had a head circumference of 35cm.

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If they had known about the feet before I went into labour, I would definitely have been booked in for a c/s. Instead, I ended up with a natural birth with only 2 minor grazes that didn’t even need stitching. Mum and my midwife think these are likely to have occurred as she rotated. It was an entirely midwife attended birth with no obstetrician in attendance, apart from the initial exam when I first got to hospital.

One thing I didn’t expect from all this is how much more I would fall in love with Dan. He was absolute gold from start to finish. He gave me everything I needed before I even knew I needed it. When the water in the bath was too hot and I started to overheat he wiped my face with a cold cloth until I cooled down, he had a cup of iced water ready at the end of each contraction because my midwife had told me to make sure I drank after each contraction as the gas was really drying on the mouth. He’s pretty quiet and didn’t say much but when he did it was, ‘You’re doing so well,’ and, ‘You can do this,’ and, ‘Come on Laura, push!’ I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I also have to say, I knew my Mum was good at her job and she’s been doing it a long time, but now I appreciate just how good at it she is. Her and my midwife were both brilliant and made a fantastic team and I’m not certain that things would have gone as smoothly as they did if it had’ve been any other combination as they both understood, accepted and worked with my wishes.

I didn’t get my homebirth and I didn’t get a water birth the whole way, but I got near enough to it and I got absolutely everything else I wanted that was within my reach to get. I honestly could not have asked for a more positive and beautiful experience to welcome my baby girl into the world.

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Breech Twin Birth Without Fear

Breech Twin Birth Without Fear

This is Mallie, a woman who truly birthed without fear.

She moved up from Florida to North Carolina in order to give birth the way she thought best, safely in a friends’ home, naturally with plenty of love and support surrounding her.  Both of Mallie’s twins were born breech after a very quick labor.  The birth was attended by a doctor, a midwife, a midwife’s assistant, a midwife in training, a doula and me (birth photographer).

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Scarlett Grace and Phoebe Anne weighed in at 7 lbs 1 oz and 7 lbs 4 oz.
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