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Category: Breech Birth

Amazing Breech VBAC {Fast hospital birth with pictures}

Amazing Breech VBAC {Fast hospital birth with pictures}

My first 2 babies were quick & easy induced vaginal births. My 3rd baby was delivered by caesarean section (in Jan 2011), as she was breech. A c/s was something I never wanted, yet the Drs insisted (via scaremongering crap) I have one due to her breech position. I was happy to go ahead with a vaginal breech birth (VBB), but the Drs were not confident and since they no longer practice breech deliveries I ended up with a scheduled c/s. She was delivered at 39wk 4d, happy, healthy and oh so perfect. Everything went really well thankfully. I still regret not trying harder to get a vaginal birth, as I knew I could have done it. I decided I would most definitely be having a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) for baby #4.

10 months after Mila’s birth, I found out I was pregnant again. Due end of July 2012.

My 4th pregnancy was very smooth sailing. I never had any morning sickness, or any problems at all. We chose to find out the sex of our baby at 20 weeks, a girl. We had moved from Canberra to Central West NSW (so we went from city to country pretty much) a few months before we found out we were pregnant, so I’d be delivering at a different hospital this time around.

At 24wk 5d I presented to the hospital with abdominal pain, and after some assessment it was decided I would have an appendectomy. Sure enough my appendix had burst. That was a scary few days, faced with the possibility of preterm labour. Before the surgery, I insisted they give me steroids for baby’s lungs, and if things went sour, to do all they could to save her. Thankfully the surgery went fine with no problems, and I recovered well. Baby stayed happily snug inside and showed no ill effects. I continued on with no problems through the rest of my pregnancy, watching my bump grow and getting excited about meeting our new baby.

At 37 weeks I went for a scan to check positioning of baby, despite her being cephalic (head down) a few days earlier at my antenatal appointment. Surprisingly though, she had flipped to breech. I couldn’t believe it! But I figured since she had been head down just a few days ago, surely she would turn back around, there was still time. In the meantime I tried a few baby flipping exercises, but not holding onto much hope of them working as they never did with Mila.

When I found out I was pregnant, I started reading as much information and birth stories on breech as I could. I knew that if I had another breech baby, I would push harder for a vaginal breech birth (VBB). I never expected it would come in handy.

I saw my OB a few days later, and I informed him that in no way will I consent to a c/s. I insisted I will be having a vaginal birth with this baby, as a c/s was completely unnecessary. He was supportive, agreed that we wait till I go into labour before making any decisions (I was surprised by his reaction, as I was more than ready for a fight). Though he did feel I would end up with a c/s and baby wouldn’t turn. This same OB when I first saw him a few months earlier, had asked why I had a c/s with #3. He was surprised that I wasn’t given a trial of labour with her since I’d had 2 previous successful VB (Vaginal Births), and my babies were only small. But since this would be a VBAC, he was slightly cautious.

Bub continued to be breech at the next few appointments, and as much as I had hoped she would turn, I gave into the fact she wasn’t going to turn head down.

I saw another OB at 39 weeks (I rotated between 2 OBs, so when I did give birth, I was familiar with whomever would be on call that day), and she performed an internal to see where I was at (She also did this as she couldn’t clearly tell if baby was still breech or not, which she was, and an internal helped her to tell). I was found to be at 2cm, soft and very favourable. She told me that I’d most likely have baby within the week. She knew my thoughts on having a c/s, and that I would be refusing one. As much as they didn’t want to deliver a breech baby vaginally, they also couldn’t refuse care. As bad as I felt putting both her and the other OB in that position, it wasn’t fair that I would be put in the position of not birthing the way I wanted, since it was my body & baby etc. That was Thursday 26th July.

I had been losing my plug over the last week or so, just little bits. Then on Saturday 28th (at 39+6) morning I found the rest of it had come away, though I knew this didn’t tell me much, labour could still be a week or more away. I’d also been experiencing painful Braxton hicks contractions over the last week, not too painful, but noticeable. These happened mainly when I was breastfeeding Mila (18mths old at the time). Though on this day I noticed they were around a bit more, and hurt a little more, not regular though. I really didn’t think anything of it, especially since they had been bothering me for weeks.

I headed to bed at 12:30am that night, I got nice & cosy, and then had a cough. Well as soon as I coughed my waters broke/burst. Totally didn’t expect that! I spent the next 20mins trying to get hold of the maternity suite, when I finally did, the Midwife (Susan) informed me that as it was the weekend and baby was still breech, my husband Lach & I would have to drive to Orange Base Hospital. My local hospital had no theatre staff on call, and they wanted that back up should something go wrong. Now Orange was over an hour drive away, and we weren’t too happy about driving all that way, but figured we had no choice.

After I got off the phone (just before 1am), I started getting painful contractions. They were coming every 5mins, and lasting just over a minute. This gave me a little hope that I may get a VB, as I had never gone into spontaneous labour with my other kids.

My Mum arrived at our place around 1:20am, and saw that I was having contractions. She soon suggested we get an ambulance to take us to Orange, as not only was Lach so tired and unwell (he had a horrid flu over the past week), but my previous VB were fast, and we didn’t want to risk birthing on the way. So she called up for an ambulance to take us. I was labouring on my bed at this point, on all fours. I was worried about a cord prolapse as I wasn’t sure if baby had engaged her bum yet or not. I really wanted to get up and jump in the shower, but didn’t want to risk being up right and possibly having a cord slip out.

The Ambos arrived around 1:40am, one of them lived just around the corner from us, so he got here pretty quick. After a check over, he informed me that we would have to go to the local hospital first before making our way to Orange. I felt bad as I had been told to go straight to Orange, but the Ambos said it was protocol. I had a contraction or 2 on the way, and wasn’t looking forward to labouring like this if we had to go to Orange. I had a canula inserted while in the ambulance in case I needed fluids etc.

At 2am, making our way along the corridors to the maternity suite I had another contraction (I was on my back, ouch!), and we were met by my Midwife Susan. I had to wait for the on call OB to arrive to do a check to see how far I was progressing. When she got there, I had an internal and amazingly I was already 8cm dilated! I couldn’t believe I was that far already, so quickly. This was what I wanted since finding out bub was breech, as the OBs had both said if I arrived at hospital at 7/8cm they would be happy to go for a breech VB. After my internal, my OB said I wasn’t going anywhere (YAY!).

Both my OB & Midwife explained how we were going to approach this birth. I had previously discussed with my OB how she would do it, so had a fair idea with how it’d go. I was told once I was fully dilated & ready to push, I’d have to come back onto the bed, on my back with my bum right at the end of the bed. They would be taking the ‘hands off approach’, where I would be left to birth baby without anyone touching her. This was so bub wouldn’t flex her head while still inside me, which would possibly cause her to get stuck. Though Susan said she would have a hard time resisting the urge to touch baby, as she was so used to being hands on when catching (cephalic) babies.

It was almost 2:30am when I found out I was staying, and I made my way into the shower to labour (boy was it great to be up off my back!). I was in there for about 10 minutes when I decided the water wasn’t hot enough for me (I had it up as far as it would go, with just hot water), so I asked for the gas. Oh that blissful gas, it’s awesome! I only had gas in my 2 previous VB, and found it really helped to ‘focus’ in a way.

Not too long and I was starting to feel pushy and let Susan know. This meant I had to get out of the shower and back onto the bed. I didn’t really want to, and was ready to crawl there, but Lach & Susan managed to encourage me to get up and make my way to the bed. I hopped up onto the bed on all fours (leaning over the head of the bed) and my OB checked me over again. I was almost fully dilated, with a little bit of cervix in the way. I stayed where I was and continued to suck on the glorious gas, fighting the urge to push. I looked up at the clock at this point and saw it was 2:45am.

Finally at around 3am I was 10cm, & ready to push. I flipped over onto my back (half sitting up), got into position, and started to push.

After a few minutes of pushing I could feel bub descending. Out came her bum (and she did a big poo & wee right before her bum emerged), then her feet flipped out from under her (she was complete breech with legs folded). Next out came her head, and then she was immediately passed up onto me. My baby girl was born at 3:13am (just over an hour after arriving at the hospital, making it just a 2hr labour).

australian hospital breech vbac

Susan went to clamp her cord, but I reminded her that I had requested delayed cord clamping as I felt (and knew) it was very beneficial for baby to receive all/as much blood from the placenta as possible. Though a minute or so later the OB asked us to clamp and cut it as bub wasn’t quite responding as well as she’d liked. She was fine though, and I knew this as I could see she was alert and trying to cry, just a little shocked. Lach cut the cord and bub was taken over to the warming tray to have a bit of air blown into her, then she was handed back to me where she latched on and began her breastfeeding journey.

first breastfeed

I indulged in my new baby girl as I delivered the placenta and I was checked over & given a few stitches. Bub was weighed & measured – 3110gm (6lb 13oz) & 48cm. After I showered, all 3 of us headed to a room to get a bit of sleep. Susan let Lach stay with me since it was so quiet on the ward (bonus of a small hospital), and he took up the bed next to me. I dozed in and out for the next few hours, had some brekky then waited for my OB to get back so we could be discharged. At 11:30am we were finally ready to go, and headed home to introduce our new daughter to her siblings.

newborn breech birth

Throughout my whole pregnancy we searched high & low for names. It was SO hard! Well if she had of been a boy it may have been easier, but naming our 3rd daughter was very tricky. Finally when she was 10 days old we agreed to name her Remi Violet.

Even now, almost 7 months later I find myself in awe. I can’t believe I did it! Well I knew I could do it, but I figured I’d end up with a c/s one way or another. I just didn’t think things would go the way I wanted. I now know that if we go back for another baby, and he/she is breech too, I will push again for another breech vaginal birth without question. I won’t let anyone convince me otherwise. I am so unbelievably happy that I got the birth I wanted, the way I wanted. I’ve watched my birth video over & over, and it amazes me every time seeing a bum come out first!


newborn breech vbac

newborn hospital breech vbac

 http://youtu.be/w_4RcBMI2OY

Breech Homebirth

Breech Homebirth

* If your baby is breech, please discuss possible complications and options with your care provider.*

I had recently moved to the bay area, which meant I had to find a new midwife. With full support from my husband I chose a home birth.  We were unsure of when exactly I conceived, so I had two due dates, two weeks apart.

The first due date came and went, so we did a vaginal exam to see if I was dilated at all. I was 1cm, but to our surprise my midwife noticed that the baby was actually breech; a quick sonogram confirmed this. Knowing that she was educated and skilled in breech birth, and that women all around the world have vaginal breech births, I didn’t hesitate. I was informed that roughly 20% of breech babies need some form of resuscitation.

At 4am on Thanksgiving my water broke, my contractions started at 10 minutes apart. I laboured around my apartment for 17 hours, with a total of 3 hours of pushing. My contractions were never less than 4 minutes apart, and they got weak because I was tired, so I took some time to rest in between sessions of pushing.

At 8:53pm my baby was out. She was not breathing, but had a pulse. The midwives and my husband stimulated, suctioned, and ventilated our baby girl for two of the longest minutes of my life before she began to cry. While they were ventilating my baby I also began to hemorrhage, but received a dose of Pitocin immediately.

I finally had my baby in my arms, and was moved to the bed to deliver the placenta. However, mine was stuck, and had to be removed manually (this hurt just as much as giving birth). But a short while later I was cleaned up and in bed with my loving husband and beautiful baby.

Three days later the midwife checked up on us and said we were doing better than average. We are both extremely healthy and happy now.

After the birth we notified everyone we had a breech birth. Some of the family was against the home birth and very against breech deliveries, so to avoid their opinion we kept it a secret.

If we were to have another I would definitely choose another home birth. It was the most empowering experience of my life.

Not only did she have a big head, but her arms were also up around her ears!

Photography by Babymoon Birth Services.

Mom Holds Baby’s Hand as Born {Surprise Breech VBAC Hospital Birth}

Mom Holds Baby’s Hand as Born {Surprise Breech VBAC Hospital Birth}

A short history of my previous births:

My oldest daughter was a good pregnancy, fairly uneventful, I choose to have a hospital birth for that “in case” reason, and it was probably good that I did, I had a severe postpartum hemorrhage that resulted in blood loss of almost 2 liters. Scary stuff. My son (second born) presented breech and big, tried the ECV, it failed, and a c-section was booked as our midwives here don’t do home births for breech babies, and hospital policy at the time was to book a c-section.

Here is the story for my second daughter (third child):

I had a Midwife appointment on Tuesday afternoon, we were going over the regular stuff, and talking about how things would go with my VBAC. She wanted to do an ultrasound just to get an idea of the baby’s weight. She also offered me a stretch and sweep to see if that would get things going. She suggested going for a walk as well to help the baby drop down a little more.

That evening I took the kids out for a walk to Dairy Queen to treat ourselves to the BOGO $0.25 Blizzards. I was so crampy the whole way there, and thought something really might be happening. But as soon as we sat down in the restaurant, it calmed down and I was fine. I was dreading the walk home as I knew this really was nothing to get excited about.

That night sleep was not comfortable, and I was losing a lot of my plug since the appointment as well. I thought maybe it was actually leading up to something.

My Mother in law came over Wednesday morning to help clean. I was feeling really crampy that morning, and thought it was really mean if this doesn’t turn into anything. Around noon or so, I thought maybe I should start timing them to see if they were actually anything to be concerned about. They were pretty erratic, between 5-7 min and lasting anywhere from 15-45 seconds long. I could still work through them and do stuff. I told my mother in law that I was feeling the same feeling that I felt that my first labor had started with. I thought we should be prepared this could be something, but didn’t actually know if it was as they weren’t getting any closer or stronger for what seemed to be a long time. We carried on cleaning up the house and timing the contractions. We went outside and the kids played with the neighbor kids for a little while, and we were talking about how soon I was due, and I said well about a week out, but I don’t think I’ll make it till tomorrow night at this rate. So that was kind of fun to think that it really could be so soon. While we were outside they were getting stronger too.

Soon people came over for dinner, and so I got to tell them all that it looked like tonight might be the night. I was so glad to just sit down and eat dinner, and not have to do other things. They kept on coming and became very regular at 5 min apart lasting 30secs for 2 hrs. After everyone left I called the midwives, and when she asked me how they were and how long they were lasting, she was like, “Why didn’t you call me sooner?!” And I said, “They weren’t really getting any stronger while I was sitting down.” So I put last minute things together for me and the kids, and got the garbage out to the road as it was garbage day. As we were getting ready, they were getting a lot stronger and more frequent; I had to stop doing stuff while the contractions passed. My Midwife called back to say that there was room for us at the hospital, and everything was a go, and she would be there in about 40 minutes. That worked out well because we would get there about the same time.

The kids knew something was up, it was dark, and they knew supposed to be bed time, but we were getting ready for them to go to Grandma’s house for a sleep over. They were happy to go to grandma’s!

We got the hospital around 9:30pm. To get into the maternity ward we have to pick up the phone to get let in, they ask, how they can help us, and I said, “I’m here to have my baby”. My husband just looked at me. Later he reminded me that he had said the exact same thing when we had our first daughter while I was fighting the urge to push, and I thought he was ridiculous for stating something so obvious. I completely forgot about that. I didn’t know what else to say to the nurses on the other side. We had a little chuckle about it inside. So they got us set up in our room, my Midwife checks me, and I’m 9cm, and my waters are bulging!

They said that if I got the urge to push try not to until they got everything set up. They had to get an IV lock in me still, and ask me all kinds of questions for the charts. Once everything was set up they offered to break my water and that it really wouldn’t be long until I would be holding my baby. I was a little skeptical because they said that last time too (with my daughter) when I got to the hospital and was 10cm, and I spent 2 hours pushing her out – that’s not too quick in my book. Meanwhile I was just lying in bed letting the contractions get stronger, and I could feel that they were changing. I thought “I’ll go to the bathroom”, and I had that urge to give a bit of a push. They were nearly ready, so they checked me again, and I was 10cm, and ready to go. So they broke my water. But before they broke my water they put down about 3 chux pads just in case there was a bit of a gush. Well when they broke my water, I couldn’t believe how much GUSHED out, and it just kept coming and coming! I was sitting in a puddle an inch or 2 deep at least. They noticed there was some meconium in the water as well, so pediatrics was called to help in case she was under any stress once she was born.

So they were doing their thing, poking me, trying to feel what station baby’s head was at, and the student midwife got this look of surprise on her face and announced, “That’s a bum!” I couldn’t believe it! They were so certain at every appointment that baby was head down.  C-section was the first thing that crossed my mind, they were going to have to put me under and slice me open. We’re in a hospital after all, they’re not likely to let me VBAC a breech baby. I wanted to cry but all I could do was say was, “This isn’t fair.” My primary midwife hit the intercom button to talk to the nurse’s station, but then decided to run out to them and tell them what was going on. The room quickly filled up with people once she got back. They hooked up an IV, strapped baby monitors around my belly. It was all very hectic!

The OB on call gave me the option to try for a vaginal birth, and I was shocked she did, but doubted I could do it for some reason. My husband said something funny, “Why don’t you try for like an hour, and see how you’re doing?” I couldn’t believe he thought I could push for another hour. The doctor said, “Oh no, we need to see significant progress in a matter of minutes.” That made me a little more hopeful that this wasn’t going to last all night long. My midwife was also reassuring me that this OB was very skilled in doing breech deliveries, and so I thought, “Okay, fine let’s do this.” If my midwife trusted this OB, then I could too.

They wheeled me down to the OR, and put me on this super skinny bed. I’m still having crazy contractions every 2 minutes. They are asking me millions of questions still – they started in the delivery room with all these questions about allergies and fake teeth, I don’t even remember them all, but remember thinking, “All this is in the file that I had to answer when I did my pre-registration, why do they have to ask again?”

It was really hard trying not to push through the contractions, and I was bearing down with my arms holding onto the edge of the bed, and when they moved me over to the skinny bed there was nothing to hang onto. It was so awkward – how was I supposed to manage these contractions? Finally someone said, “If you need to, you can push a little bit through the contractions.” It was such a relief!

We were waiting for an ultrasound machine to check the baby’s head position; they wanted to make sure the chin was pointing downward and not upward. This was an important thing that could have made the world of difference between c-section and successful vaginal delivery. I prayed so hard that the chin was downward. Once they figured out that her chin was neither up nor down, they let my husband in the room.

With my feet in the stirrups (ugh, didn’t like that at all) I was given the green light to start pushing again, but it was weird, the contractions seemed to have stopped. Funny timing! But it gave me a chance to collect my thoughts and give it everything I could when they did start again.

It actually felt good to push; I could feel her moving downward. At one point she actually slide back up though, and I nearly panicked saying, “No, no, no!”, but my midwives were great coaches, saying, “It’s okay, 2 steps forward, 1 step back, we’ll get there again next push.”  All I could think was that it felt like 5 steps backwards. But in 2 more pushes I felt her bum right near the edge. I actually thought some was out a bit and said, “Can’t you just pull the baby out?” I think I heard someone actually chuckle then. But someone else said, “You’re almost there, we can see the bum when you push.”

The next push the ring of fire started. I must say it is true, you do forget the pain. I didn’t forget that it hurt, just exactly how much it hurt though is a different story. Holy moly. I also felt her pee, and they announced it too. Made me realize I was actually very close to having my baby. With one more push the bum was out far enough that they had to pull the legs out. Pulling those legs out was such an awkward feeling, more stretching pain, and hotter fire. But once they were out it was a lot better. One more push and they pulled the arms out.

I could see her little arm hanging by my hip.  I was so close! So I decided to reach and see if I could hold her little hand, it was just amazing, I put my finger in her little fingers, and she squeezed my finger. I about cried right there. The Doctor and midwives are telling me to get ready to push out the head. It was so uncomfortable, I didn’t think I could push her head out with the way things were, but I had no choice.

EVERYONE was saying “Push, just one more push. You can do it! Almost there!” I just wanted the pain to stop, and I knew that getting her out faster was the quickest way I could end it. So I gave it everything I had, and then found more energy from who knows where, to get that baby’s head out.

And then there she was, hanging off the Doctor’s arm, kind of bluish looking, but that’s normal for being just born. I couldn’t believe I did it! All I could do was say it over and over again, “I did it!” They had taken her over to the table, and I hadn’t heard her cry yet. I was starting to get a little worried, but then there it was a big wail at nearly the same time as I was delivering the placenta.

Then they were cleaning me up, and told me I had one little tear and asked if I wanted one poke or two. Two was to freeze me first before giving me one stitch. I thought to myself why bother freezing me now, what’s one little stitch going to hurt compared to what I just did? So I just asked for one poke. I just felt the tug of the stitch, maybe a slight poke, but it felt kind of numb already.

Finally they brought her over to me, and I got to hold her for only a few minutes. She was doing a lot more grunting then she should be, and they were concerned, so they brought her over to the NICU.

Once they got me all cleaned up, it was time to go back to our other room, we called our parents let them know what was going on. I thought about how quick it all happened. We got to the hospital around 9:30pm, and delivered her 2hrs later. Once back in the delivery room, they finally told us how much she weighed; it was a whopping 9lbs 15oz! When the midwives were finally were able to do the newborn assessment, and measured her length, it was 22 ¾” long! My big girl! Our midwife said she was almost like a 6wk old baby.

I think about it all now, and it really was a blessing that we didn’t know she was breech. Had they known they would never have let me try. If it had been a different Dr on call, it probably wouldn’t have worked out – the OB that night is one of the most experienced in our city. If they had known, they would have done an ultrasound and saw how big she was, and said no way.

We finally got to go home on Saturday afternoon, and Zoë has been such a great baby, the other two have been so good with her as well, it has been such a wonderful experience so far. There were a few things that afterward I would have liked to happen differently, but I can’t do anything about it now. With baby #4 on the way we’re going to attempt a homebirth. Please pray that everything can go smoothly and I can just have a natural normal uncomplicated birth!

This mama went on to have her next baby at home. Birth story to come!

A Peaceful Surgical Birth of a Breech Baby {after switching providers at 38 1/2 weeks}

A Peaceful Surgical Birth of a Breech Baby {after switching providers at 38 1/2 weeks}

I spent my whole life dreaming about my babies. I’ve loved children since I was young, and looked forward to being a mother for as long as I can remember. When my husband Kai and I got married, I was pregnant within a month. We couldn’t have been happier about it. I didn’t exactly enjoy being pregnant as much as I thought I would – his kicks and rolls didn’t feel sweet and tender, it felt more like having an alien in my belly – but I looked forward to giving birth with the excited anticipation of a first time mother. I read everything I could find, and prepared for birth and breastfeeding with real enthusiasm. I surrounded myself with positive birth stories, and by the time the end of my pregnancy came near, I felt like there wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.

And then at 36 weeks, my baby turned breech. I was seeing nurse midwives at a hospital, and when the midwife discovered that my baby was head up, I was surprised by how big of a deal she made of it. I had read plenty of positive breech birth stories, and didn’t see any reason to be concerned. But, of course, the hospital had a strict policy about breech babies only being delivered by cesarean, and in Utah all licensed midwives are legally banned from attending vaginal breech deliveries, both at the hospital and at home. For two weeks after discovering he was breech, I was really unconcerned. I figured if he could flip head up, he could flip back down. Silly me. At 38 weeks he was still breech, and the midwives suggested I have an external cephalic version the next day. I watched a few YouTube videos of the procedure, so I went in thinking it would be easy and painless, and expecting it to work. I wish I had had time to do a little more research, but everything seemed to happen so fast.

The version was horrible.

Take your hand and try to touch your spine, and you’ll understand how it felt. And, of course, it didn’t work. A common theme that I’ve since noticed in birth stories is that the more power you give to doctors, the less you keep for yourself. While laying in the hospital bed after this excruciating (and, I later learned, quite risky) procedure – wearing a paper thin gown and with tubes coming out of my arm, I might add – the O.B and my midwife had a little conference together on the other side of the room, where they pulled out their planners and scheduled my c-section. They didn’t bother discussing it with me, and when I asked why they insisted on scheduling it at 39 weeks, the O.B. said, “Because that’s just what we do.” I asked again, thinking that maybe wording my question would get me a different answer, but he said the same thing: that’s just what we do. I had heard stories of women’s struggles to birth the way they choose in a hospital, but I figured that since I had read and prepared as well as I could, I would be able to conquer any obstacles that came my way. But after the failed version I came home in tears, realizing that my options were extremely limited.

I got online to start looking for some answers, and the place I started was Birth Without Fear, where January had been inspired to write two posts in a row, one about breech birth, and the next about how to have a positive C-Section. I will always be grateful for the support and knowledge and love that she shared with me on that trying, sad day.

At this point I started scrambling for other options. I started going to the pool at my gym to do hand stands, I did moxibustion, I went to a wonderful chiropractor who did the Webster method, I even laid on my ironing board propped up on our couch with a bag of ice on the top of my belly and a warm rice bag on the bottom. I also called my birth class teacher, who was so supportive and helped me stay positive and strong. She recommended a doctor a few miles north of where I live who is known for being fearless. He’s delivered so many babies that he’s not afraid of multiples, breech, or any other versions of birth.

At 38 ½ weeks I switched care and met him for the first time. He let me ask him question after question for over an hour, which my other midwives and O.B. hadn’t been willing to do. He explained to me why he was hesitant to deliver breech births vaginally, especially to a first time mother, explaining the reasons why it was a little more dangerous than a typical birth. I was able, for the first time, to express my concerns about having a c-section (which I considered equally, if not more, risky), everything from my baby not experiencing any labor and being born before he was ready to all the procedures that happen after a surgical birth that are often avoided or delayed after a vaginal birth. I wanted to be sure that my baby was ready to be here, and that when he came out he could have the same experience that he would have had if he was born vaginally, i.e. going straight to my chest, nursing as soon as he was ready, and not leaving the warmth of my skin until we were both good and ready.

Dr. Parker explained that they preferred to schedule c-sections before 40 weeks because if I was to go into labor, and the baby started moving down before I was fully dilated, there was an increased risk of cord prolapse and head entrapment (if the baby’s feet slip through the cervix before it reaches 10 cm, the head can become stuck, and the cord can become compressed). He also explained that the operating room is quite cold, and the nurses aren’t comfortable letting the baby stay for long. Apparently they started letting babies stay in the O.R. with their parents after surgery, but one time, while all the nurses’ and doctor’s attention was on the mother, a baby began turning blue. The baby was fine, but they’re now very uncomfortable leaving babies with parents without a nurse to keep an eye them, and (they claim) there aren’t enough nurses to have an extra one for the baby, or there isn’t enough room, or something. I also asked if they could delay cord clamping, and he said the risk of infection was too high to keep me open for long, but that he’d be willing to give the baby a few extra moments before cutting the cord.

I wasn’t exactly excited about having a c-section, but my situation, as I saw it, was this: breech birth is most safe when it’s attended by someone who is well trained in the art of vaginal breech birth. Where I was in the world at that moment, there was no one that I knew of who could assist me. So I could either deliver this baby at home alone, which I felt totally unprepared for and considered too risky, or I could have a surgical birth. I didn’t love those options, but at almost 39 weeks, there didn’t see much else to do, besides fly to The Farm in Tennessee (which I honestly considered).

After my conversation with Dr. Parker, I felt such a strong feeling of peace. I felt surprisingly hopeful and positive. I knew that my options at that moment in time were limited, and that there were a risks involved with any decision, but I also knew that Heavenly Father could fix anything. I realized that my birth and my baby were just as important to God as they were to me, and that he’d make up for the parts that didn’t go perfectly. Dr. Parker kindly asked if I’d like to schedule a c-section (such a nice change from the last doctor!), and when we looked at his schedule, I felt incredibly good about a date that was just 3 days later than the first planned surgery. I left his office feeling happy and excited, and my husband and I began looking forward to the day that we’d see our baby!

My section was scheduled for 7:30 am, which meant that I had to be at the hospital by 6, which meant that I had to wake up at 4:30 (I figured if this was going to be a planned event, I might as well take a shower and put some mascara on, because I could). And brilliantly, at 4:10, 20 minutes before the alarm went off, my water broke. I felt a pop and a huge gush, and jumped out of bed and ran into the shower, giddy with excitement. It was such a blessing to know that my little baby was getting himself ready to come into the world, and that September 29 would have been his birthday with or without the surgery.

My water breaking meant that they couldn’t attempt another ECV, which I was fine with (because it’s terrible). So we took our time getting ready and moseyed on over to the hospital a few minutes later than we planned. Before leaving, Kai gave me a blessing that seemed to infuse me to the core with peace and assurance. It said that Heavenly Father was pleased with my willingness to have children, and that he’d bless me for sacrifice. I definitely witnessed those promised blessings during the next few days.

When we got to the hospital, I was told that my doctor wouldn’t be able to make it in that day, and that another doctor would be performing my surgery. I was totally crushed since I had developed such a bond with Dr. Parker, but got prepped like normal, and right before I went in to the O.R., my doctor showed up like a knight in shining armor. Apparently his mother had died the day before, but he knew how important it was to me that he be there, and through his deep sadness and grief managed to show up to help bring my baby to me safely, which was the first in a long line of tender mercies. I know we don’t like to talk about doctors in terms of knights and saviors, because we’re the warriors and deliverers of our babies, but I felt like his willingness to show up that morning was heroic, and I was so relieved, and so grateful. I had never been happier to see a doctor in my life.

With my husband by my side, holding my hand the whole time, Dr. Parker surgically brought my baby boy into the world, and it was the most wonderful experience. After about 10 minutes of surgery, they lifted my son into the air so I could see him (we hadn’t known if it was a boy or girl until that point), and my husband proudly announced that it was a boy! The sight of my son’s scrunched, wrinkled, beautiful face was everything I had hoped for.

Dr. Parker said there was surprisingly little bleeding and the baby was doing fine, so he held him for a few extra seconds and let as much of that precious blood get to him as possible. Our boy was then separated from me for the first time, wiped down, weighed quickly, and handed over to my husband wrapped up in those stripped hospital receiving blankets. While I was waiting for him to be brought to me, the nurse announced that he was 7 pounds 2 ounces and had tons of dark hair!

Kai brought him over to me, and I will never forget the sight of my son and my husband together for the first time. We often talk about women becoming mothers, but in that moment I witnessed my husband change from a man to a father, and it was one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen. I kissed my baby’s face and kept saying, “My baby, my sweet baby!” I was worried about not experiencing the love cocktail of birth, but it was truly euphoric seeing and kissing my son for the first time. I was elated, and felt like I was floating for hours after.

Kai took our beautiful son to the nursery where they checked everything out, and they said his temperature was a little too low for a bath (which I had wanted to delay, anyway), so Kai offered to take the baby and keep him warm while they waited for my surgery to be done, which was great because when I finally held my son, I got to smell that amazing newborn smell. Incidentally, while the doctor was sewing me up, he informed me that I only had one ovary and one fallopian tube. I was shocked as I had never had any indication that I didn’t have all of my, uh, baby making parts, but it was hugely eye opening as to why my baby felt more comfortable in the breech position. I really wanted to understand why my baby was breech, and it was a real blessing to have that insight, both to understand my first pregnancy, and to prepare for potential future breech babies.

After being sewn up and taken to a recovery room, I fully expected to see my husband and baby as soon as possible, and kept waiting to see them walk through the door. They, on the other hand, were expecting me to come through their door in the room I’d eventually stay in for the next 2 days. I waited for almost an hour, making the grand total of time away from my baby almost TWO HOURS!!! I wish that I had known that it was standard to monitor mothers after surgery for an hour WITHOUT THEIR BABIES (who came up with this ridiculous idea, anyways?!), because I would have been much more demanding, but as I laid there I was totally blissed out with this huge crazy grin on my face. I had finally kissed my baby’s face, and he was beautiful and perfect, and I had done something pretty huge and scary, and come out the end of it a mother.

They finally wheeled me down to my room and there were my gorgeous men waiting for me. I immediately stripped off my gown, unwrapped my baby, and held him close to my skin and inspected him from head to toe, smelling his delicious smell and looking into his deep dark eyes. We tried nursing immediately, but it didn’t go great, so I just held him and talked to him, and my husband and I spent the next 2 days laying in bed, skin to skin, with our beautiful baby boy. It took a while to find just the right name, but right before we left the hospital we named him Kaimoku Max Barrus. He, like all babies do, has become the light of our lives, and we’re so grateful that he finally came down to our family.

I’ve had the last 9 months to reflect on my son’s birth, and after turning the events over and over in my mind (should I have tried to free birth him at home, should I have looked harder for a midwife who would attend me, should I have started handstands at the pool and chiropractic care earlier??), it finally occurred to me that what I experienced that day was BIRTH. There were so many parallels to the natural vaginal birth I had hoped to have: the study and preparation, the anticipation of experiencing something unknown and challenging, the huge effort, and the total relief when it was over. My husband was my epidural (well, he was the epidural to my epidural, which wasn’t totally comfortable at first – holding his hand kept me from fainting), and when it got difficult or scary I just looked into his eyes and knew it was going to be okay. The intense rush of love and emotion that overcame me when my baby was born was indescribable, just like I had hoped. When it was all over I was a MOTHER.

My care providers, at the end anyways, listened to me and allowed me to be as much of a participant as possible, and through it all I felt empowered and able to make choices for myself and for my baby. There were some downsides to surgery, including so much time spent away from my baby (though it was a very beautiful and sweet experience for my husband, who has had a unique and wonderful bond with our baby because of that time spent together), as well as difficulties with breastfeeding.

It took us three months to work through our nursing issues, which included a bad case of thrush because of all the antibiotics, but we managed to figure things out in the end. Breastfeeding has been great ever since. I continue to put great faith in women’s bodies ability to give birth in all sorts of circumstances, and look forward to having a different experience the next time around. And while I would never presume to make the decision for anyone else, for us at that time, my surgical birth was the best choice I could have made. Through it all we felt so much peace. We will make different choices the next time around, because that’s life, but I will make those choices without fear, with a strengthened trust in my intuition, my body, and my ability to do difficult, beautiful, powerful things.

Beautiful (Surprise) Breech Home Birth

Beautiful (Surprise) Breech Home Birth

My husband and I chose to have our first baby at home with an absolutely empowering midwife. I distinctly remember between my intense contractions hearing my husband Kevin, Leslie our midwife, and her intern Melissa, in our kitchen drinking coffee and softly laughing enjoying good conversation.

I was in the birth tub letting my body bring our little girl into this world and never once did I wish for pain killers or any other assistance. Being alone in the quiet of my room was all I needed and after 18 hours my beautiful daughter, Lilly, was born.

Five short months later we again found out we were expecting! (Crazy close, I know). At 20 weeks we went in for an ultrasound to find out the sex of our baby. Excitedly we planned for a little boy to join our family! As far as we knew baby was head down and ready to go, so when I went into labor this past month neither myself or my midwife expected anything out of the ordinary.

After only three and a half hours I started that much desired point of “pushing” (Ha!). As our baby boy was coming down the birth canal a significant amount of meconium started coming out and I began worrying a little. A friend had recently lost their little boy when he inhaled meconium during his birth. Even with medical help he was unable to fight the infecting and flew up to heaven after only a week.

However, during the last 10 minuets of pushing, Carol (the midwife’s assistant), quietly mentioned… “That’s not a head”.  Many looks were exchanged around the room between all of us for a brief moment as we all realized this little guy at some point had turned! Much to all of our surprise!

Leslie looked me straight in the eyes and simply told me, “It’s alright, you can do this”. So, I did! Rowin Jax came out butt first completely folded in half. His little feet were tucked under his chin and he had the thickest umbilical cord any of us had ever seen. Totally healthy, he did need a little oxygen, but after a few good breaths of that he did just fine.

The full photo montage of the birth – some of the mother’s favorite photos are those in which you can see her husband’s feet on her back for counter pressure.

A Footling Breech Birth Assisted by a Midwive & Observed by Paramedics

A Footling Breech Birth Assisted by a Midwive & Observed by Paramedics

This is the story of one’s exciting entrance into the world. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would one day have such a fast and furious labor, especially after the perfect labor and birth of Joby a little over one year ago (yeah, I know. We certainly didn’t waste any time, did we?).

Oliver William was born on August 4th, 2012, a whole 5 hours from the moment my membranes spontaneously ruptured while I was peacefully sleeping. I was 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant and certainly not  expecting that to happen so soon. The night prior, Joey and I had gone to dinner before he went to a wrestling match with his sister and nephew, and I knew something was off then. I was ravenous, didn’t have any patience, and I didn’t quite feel like myself. In fact, one of my friends saw me driving home from dinner and I was oblivious to her trying to get my attention with honking and waving. I was concentrating on getting home as I had an odd pain in my abdomen that I just couldn’t shake.

Joby and I played for a while and I bathed him once we arrived home. I noticed I was exhausted and we decided to go to bed early. By 9pm, we were both cuddled up and enjoying our slumber together. Joey made it home and quietly slipped into bed shortly after midnight. Little did we know the adventure that the next morning would hold.

I was suddenly awakened at 1:00am by the “gushing fluid” sensation that is so comically portrayed in movies. Laying on my left side, I felt it completely bathe me, front and back, until I convinced myself that my water had actually broke and I knew what was coming next. In disbelief and fear, I called Misti (my midwife), then Jenn (my doula, who lovingly texted “Relax. Everything is as it should be.”), then my parents to let them know that we were having a baby. I roused Joey to let him know my water broke and to make sure Joby wasn’t laying in it and he sleepily acknowledged me and nodded back off as if nothing had happened (when I came back into the bedroom later, I discovered Joby snoring away in our new waterbed, right where I had been laying before. Apparently Joey didn’t quite get what was going on).

Misti asked if my fluid was clear and odorless (which it was) and calmly advised me to relax and go back to sleep since I was going to need the energy soon enough. For those of you who’ve never birthed a child before, there is no way a pregnant woman can fall back asleep after her water has broken given the anxiety and excitement that has overcome her thoughts at that point, not to mention any contractions that may be starting. I was trying to wrap my mind around having  a baby so early and how much I still needed to prepare (mentally and physically) to make that happen. Instead of sleep, I relaxed my thoughts under the warm water of a shower, got dressed, packed my suitcase (and by “packed my suitcase” I mean I basically dumped my top 3 dresser drawers into a suitcase. Seriously, who has time to color coordinate when you’re in the Oh-my-gawd-I’m-about-to-have-a-baby mode?), packed Joby’s suitcase, drank a lot of water, found an app on my fancy phone to time contractions.

I finally attempted to lie down and meditate to rest, all the while hoping contractions wouldn’t start for another couple hours like they did with Joby. During my meditation I saw a vision of a medicine man painted in black and white face paint and a newborn baby laying on the ground with medical tubes and wires all over him. Naturally, that alarmed my subconscious and I quickly tried to clear the vision and go to a more peaceful place. Little did I know it was a vision of what was to come over the next week.

With my pile of suitcases in the living room, I went to the bedroom to wake Joey up at 3:20am because I knew it was getting closer to the time I would want to be at my parents’ house to labor so I wouldn’t be stuck riding in a car when contractions were at their peak. That 7 minute car ride can feel like an eternity when every muscle in your body is attempting to squeeze a child into the world. I had started timing contractions at 2:45am and noted that they were irregular and not lasting long enough to have Misti come over yet, but strong enough that I was ready to get moving. While Joey was washing up, I took advantage of the opportunity to snuggle up with Joby in bed, wrapping my arms around this bittersweet moment knowing that it would never be just me and Joby again. After Joey showered and packed, we got Joby up and situated in the car and by 4:15am, we were at my parents.

Imagine the surprise on my mom’s face when I quietly woke her up to let her know it was time. After telling her my water broke at 1am, she asked if I had called and I said, “Yes, for the last 3 hours.” My sister was due to arrive in town that morning (wasn’t that lucky timing?) and she thought the phone ringing was from her phone calls, not from me as no one was expecting a birth on a Saturday morning that early in August. Mom got out of bed and went into “go” mode to get things ready for the birth. We still needed to put sheets and shower curtains on the bed, make sure the bathtub was clean, get all the towels and linens ready and warmed, etc. At that point, I realized that all I wanted was a cave to labor in (well, a yurt would’ve been awesome as well). I found the quietest, darkest room in the house and closed the door behind me as I breathed and repeated mantras to get through each contraction that was building more quickly than my mind was ready for. Joey held space for me outside the door and was there whenever I needed a hug or a reassuring look from him.

With everything and everyone getting prepped, I ventured into mom and dad’s bedroom, since that’s where I intended to birth my baby, while things started moving towards a more rapid pace. With Joby, I remembered contractions getting stronger and longer, but I also remembered feeling like I had plenty of time in between each phase to know that my body was transitioning. This time around, I felt like I was flying through the phases and I could never get a handle on getting to a relaxed state between contractions. I mentally started to panic and remember tearfully looking at my mom and telling her, “I don’t think I can go through this again.” Those seemed to be the words that sent everything flying into chaos.

During this time, Jenn had arrived at the house and was doing things to help get the birth space ready as well as seeing what she could do to make me comfortable. I did not find the birthing ball to my liking (which surprised me because that was the only comfortable position I could find while laboring with Joby) and I kept wanting to squat but knew that if I did that, I would be hugging a baby sooner than I felt i needed to be. I could feel things changing so quickly and I just couldn’t mantra my way out of the pain at that point.

Like my first birth, every time I had a contraction I would get the chills and my body would start shaking. It’s like every ounce of warming blood I had in my body was being sent to my uterus to make it function like a rockstar leaving the rest of me nice and cold. I had to don socks to keep my feet warm and I made sure to regularly use the restroom to keep my bladder empty to make space for the baby to venture through the birth canal. I sent my dad to the store to get cherries and grape Gatorade (my favorite post-birth snack) and tried to make sure I included Joey in on my laboring since he felt neglected the first time around. (Joey actually asked when he would be able to use all the stuff he learned in the Bradley class while I was in labor with Joby. Neither of us knew I would be the type to want my space and to be left alone during that time until we were actually in the midst of it all. Sorry Joey.)

All the while, I had been keeping in touch with Misti about my progress and she was gauging when she needed to head to Orange Park from St. Augustine to be with me. We sure got that timing wrong. 🙂 I texted her at 4:44am letting her know that I’d had 4 contractions in 7 minutes. She asked me if I wanted her to get the liner for the birth tub that I’d asked her to bring and I said, “Yes.” We would later discover that was the wrong idea. At 5:16 I got a text asking how I was doing. My response: “In labor, feel like puking. hot and cold and having to remind myself I can do this.” Transition time? 🙂 As Misti was on her way to me, I texted her at 5:37 telling her, “It’s changing. my body wants to push.”

That was the beginning of a very frantic 30 minutes. I couldn’t believe how quickly things had progressed and how it actually hurt to NOT push. Once I realized that I couldn’t help it and that it would feel better to bear down, I asked Jenn if I could get in the tub and let her know that I was pushing. Joey wasn’t excited to hear that news at all since neither our midwife or her assistant had shown up yet.

Getting in the warm cocoon of the bathtub felt wonderful and familiar. The contractions kept coming and I just knew something wasn’t right. Joey was on the phone with Misti letting her know I was pushing and as they kept losing reception and the connection with each other, I felt a foot emerge from me.

Insert expletives, panic, whimpering, adrenaline, and fear here. Holy Sh*t, my baby was breech.

According to my last ultrasound at 31 weeks, I had known I was carrying a breech baby. Being an acupuncturist and doula, I knew different techniques to employ to get baby to turn. I also felt like I had plenty of time before the arrival of baby (I really expected to carry him to 40 weeks) and he would turn when he knew it was time. At that point, I had done moxa, inversions, spinning babies.com, swimming, hypnotherapy, and chiropractic care to get baby into optimal position. Apparently he had his own plan because none of those worked for us.

At my last prenatal appointment, Misti was convinced he was head down and I had come to terms with getting another ultrasound to confirm that. We ran out of time before that could take place and my decision to birth at home was based on confidence that baby knew exactly what he was doing and that he was in the best position possible.

“Jenn, that’s either a foot or a cord!” As I reached down to feel exactly which part was hanging out, I started going through everything that could happen with a breech birth. I was laboring on my back to get better leverage to feel what was happening, and I have never felt sensations like I did every time a contraction came in that position. I had resigned myself to being transported to the hospital so I could have this baby cut out of me at that point. I was D-O-N-E! Jenn had to snap me back into reality and make me stop running through all the complications that were possible so I could bring my focus and awareness back to effectively birthing a baby. After my next push, she looked down and said, “Yes, that’s a foot,” and that’s when I saw a panic stricken side of my best friend that I had never seen before. I knew we were in trouble then.

Joey (who was freaking out at this point) announced he was calling 911. (I later learned that my sister was on the phone with the dispatcher and her statement was, “My sister is in labor and there’s a foot sticking out of her.” Oh, how much I would give to have a recording of that phone call, haha.) Within minutes, paramedics were standing around the bathtub looking at me and then at each other asking what they should do. Apparently this scene wasn’t something they were familiar with.

Luckily, (cue superhero music) Shea showed up just as the paramedics did and she flew right into the house past them to get to me. She had been conversing with Misti as Misti was still a ways away from me, and they spoke about what needed to happen to get my baby safely into our arms. She quickly assessed everything that was going on and as my inner coward came roaring out, she told me to look her in the eyes and take a deep breath. She reassured me that everything was going to be fine and that confidence was exactly what I needed at that point. From shouting, “Help me!!!” mere minutes before to being relieved that someone was finally taking charge, I was ready to get this child out of me! I was told to get on my hands and knees and to keep pushing, and the next thing I knew, a slippery baby was born and I was being urged to turn around and see my baby.

“It’s a boy!” We didn’t know the sex of the baby throughout the entire pregnancy so I was extremely happy to be able to hold my son and let the world know what he was before anyone else could. My sweet creation came into this world as backwards as he possibly could (breech and facing posterior, having to have had his chin tucked down with Shea’s finger in his mouth through my pelvis while I was pushing him out) and as perfect as perfect gets.

At 6:10am on August 4, 2012 (about 3 hours after true labor started), we welcomed Oliver William Barbieri into our family as astonished paramedics looked on (minus the one who was laid out on our family room floor because he threw his back out getting out of the truck!!!) and family members started surrounding us with love. My parents missed the actual birth of Oliver as they were directing paramedics to the scene and didn’t make it back into the room in time to see him born. This was as different as you could possibly get from my peaceful, perfect waterbirth of Joby, but I’m not sure that I would’ve done it differently if given the chance.

I still get flashes of feeling a foot pushing its way out of me and I still feel the trauma and fear that encompassed Ollie’s entrance. But looking at my little guy who is so amazing and sweet and beautiful, I just have to believe in miracles and that indeed, “Everything is as it should be.”

(Side note: my meditation vision proved to be true as we admitted Oliver into the nicu the evening he was born due to severe bruising of his legs from the way he made his entrance. He then had a couple apnic episodes in the hospital and developed jaundice so his first week of life was spent confined to an incubator with tubes and wires all over him. Thank the Universe that he is now very healthy and strong and I can hold and love him like mommies were meant to do.)

(Oh, and another side note: there were 6 planets in retrograde the day of Oliver’s birth. I blame that for his backwardness. lol.)

Thank you to all of the people who held it together when I could not, and for making sure both Oliver and I were safe and able to stay together during his chaotic birth day. And a huge thank you to Shea for being the rock that I needed when I was falling and for making a perfect catch at such an epic birth. I really don’t think the outcome would’ve been the same had she not shown up right when she did.

Surprise Breech Baby and Overcoming Breastfeeding Struggles

Surprise Breech Baby and Overcoming Breastfeeding Struggles

Surprise Breech Baby

My husband and I decided right away to have a midwife attended delivery and chose the Hypnobabies birthing method. I also decided a water birth would be the most natural. Our daughter was head down for the last 8 weeks, and our last appointment was 3 days prior to her birth – still head down.

I labored for about 28 hours (she is my first child) and pushed for about 25 minutes. During the pushing phase I felt like her head was really wide, but being my first baby I had nothing to compare it to. I asked my midwife to apply counter pressure for me while I was kneeling and pushing, and at one point felt her start pulling a little. I knew she wasn’t pulling on my daughter’s head, though.

Then came time for another push. I felt a big sense of relief, looked down and saw feet! Yes! Then realized NO! There’s more?! One more push and out came her head. Our little Olivia was a surprise breech! I never really felt her turn, but she must have in the last 3 days before her birth, because I could tell her position had changed.

Everything was perfect and I couldn’t have asked for a better delivery. And best of all, because of weeks of perineal massage and counter pressure during my birth I had a breech birth without any major tears.

breastfeeding struggles

yeast when breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Struggles

Breastfeeding turned into another story. Baby and her mouth were tiny. Her latch was poor and things weren’t going well when I noticed a small hole in the side of my nipple. I had intense pain on both nipples and didn’t realize for a few weeks that I had yeast infections on both. Being a first time mom I didn’t even know that was a possibility. Before I knew it, the tiny hole was quite large and painful. It was getting larger by the day and my midwife, lactation consultant and everyone else I had talked to had never seen such a thing.

This began at 2 1/2 weeks and I began my 10 week fight to breastfeed. My dermatologist was quite negative. He said quit breastfeeding, she won’t hold it against you, you’ve bonded long enough. At one point I stopped breastfeeding on the left and only pumped, but experienced some bleeding so had to hand express. My midwife tried cauterizing my nipple (yep, I’m still in pain more than 6 months later) and no help.

I finally went to a plastic surgeon who is also a wound care specialist. And coincidentally his father had been a pioneering researcher on the health and bonding benefits of breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months! 10 weeks after I had initially noticed that tiny hole, I finally healed enough to breastfeed again on both sides. I had so many people and doctors encouraging me to stop, but the few who encouraged me to continue I could never thank enough!

I was determined to breastfeed for the first year of my daughter’s life and we are still going strong at 8 1/2 months. I just wanted to share my breastfeeding story in case there is anyone else out there who is experiencing the same thing. I found nothing relating to this on the internet and local healthcare professionals are still stumped. I think a combination of a poor latch and yeast contributed to the situation. Women need more support for breastfeeding as it is, and this situation was incredibly difficult to go through with so little support and no answers. I want other women to know you can heal and you can breastfeed. Never give up! Thank you for letting me share.

Kate

First a Hospital Breech Birth and then an Unplanned Unassisted Birth Story

First a Hospital Breech Birth and then an Unplanned Unassisted Birth Story

Hospital Breech Birth

My first pregnancy left me somewhat jaded and mistrusting of doctors and hospitals.  My baby was breech.  He had been breech since the 12 week ultrasound and had stayed that way since.  I tried inversions, hot and cold packs, music on my lower abdomen and even handstands to get baby to flip.  At 38 weeks he was still breech.  An external cephalic version was attempted but failed.   On multiple occasions, my OB used every scare tactic in the book to try to force me to schedule surgical delivery.  He talked down to me and essentially told me I would kill my baby if I tried to deliver my breechling vaginally.  I dreaded my prenatal appointments and began to get worn down from the constant confrontation from him as well as from my family.

I have a scientific background and did my due diligence in researching breech birth.  I decided it was something I wanted to attempt.  I stopped seeing my current OB and began searching for someone who would support my breech birth.  I contacted local midwives and called all local hospitals.  No local hospital was willing work with me.  The midwives who responded to me thought I was too high risk since I was a first time mom as well as carrying breech.

I began to get disheartened as I hit many dead ends.  Just when I began to lose hope, I got a phone call from midwife Gail of spinningbabies.com.  She let me know of a Doctor at a hospital 2 hours away from me who would attend breech births.  She even offered to be my doula!  For the first time in a long time, I felt calm and at ease about my situation.  I felt accepted and normal.  My appointment with the new OB was completely refreshing as he spoke to me like an equal and treated my baby’s position as a variation of normal.

The labor was long and very taxing- about 15 hours of active labor and 6 hours of hands and knees pushing.  I had excruciating back labor due to baby’s frank breech position.  But, the end result was a healthy baby (9 lbs 9 oz!) and a healthy, uncut mother.  I was so proud of myself.  I felt I had beaten the system.  I jumped through hoops, fought with doctors and my family, and eventually stooped to desperation…but, I beat the system.  I had never been more proud of myself or more thankful to those who had helped me and believed in me.

Unplanned, Unassisted Home Birth

We learned we were expecting again when our little boy was 9 months old. Because of the stress of my first pregnancy, I knew I needed a different option.  I just couldn’t go through pregnancy in a hospital environment again.  We interviewed several birthing centers as well as a home birth midwife.   Despite recoils from family and friends, we chose home birth.  It felt right for us and I clicked right away with Erin, the midwife.  We were thrilled when Erin confirmed around 20 weeks that baby was head down.  The 9 months of stress free prenatal appointments were pure bliss.  Instead of talking down to me, Erin supported me in every way she could and was always there with an open ear.  Instead of dreading my prenatal appointments, I looked forward to them.  Erin cared about me in a way a doctor never has.  She came to know me, my son and my husband deeply.  She knew details about my personal life and helped to entertain my busy son during our appointments.  She started out as my midwife, but very quickly became my friend.

As labor drew closer, my Husband, Stephen, joked several times that he thought this delivery would be quick.  Little did we know this would be such an extreme understatement!  I woke up on Monday night with horrible stomach cramps, nausea, and eventually vomiting.  This lasted for about three hours.  I was able to fall asleep and work up the next morning feeling fine.  Around noon on Tuesday I passed some blood tinged mucus.  I notified Erin of my symptoms, but she didn’t seem concerned and said I should expect labor to begin in the next few days.   I went about the rest of my day as usual.

I tried to go bed early that night because of my lack of sleep from the night before.  I finally made it to bed around 8pm.  I couldn’t get comfortable and I never got to sleep.   I had my first ‘real’ contraction around 9:30 pm.  I had a few rounds of prodromal labor, so I still wasn’t convinced this was the real thing.  I timed my contractions for an hour and found them to be 8 minutes apart and getting stronger.  I got out of bed and talked to my husband who was working on homework in our living room.  We timed my contractions for a little longer and found them to be 6-7 minutes apart.  I put in a phone call to Erin and she decided to start the trek to our home.   At first I was hesitant for her to leave since my first labor was so long, but she lived an hour and a half away and thought it would be better safe than sorry.  In retrospect, it’s a good thing she left when she did!

At that point, my husband and I started setting up things for our home birth. We thought we would have plenty of time so we didn’t rush.  Steve was getting supplies laid out and started figuring out the birthing tub.  I focused on making our bed with a waterproof cover and an extra set of sheets.   While I was making our bed, I noticed my contractions were coming around 6 minutes apart and were getting really strong.  I had to stop what I was doing and breathe through each one.  Erin called around this point to check how things were going and if I wanted her assistant to leave ahead of her.  (The assistant lives a half hour from our house.)  I didn’t realize how progressed I was, so I told her I didn’t think it was necessary.

At that point, it was around 12am and Erin was about 45 minutes away.  I finished making up the bed and I head out to the kitchen to see how the rest of set up was progressing.  I just made it to our kitchen counter when I had a gripping contraction.  I hung onto the counter and breathed through the pain.  I did what felt natural to me- which happened to be a strange lunging motion- during the contractions.  Steve had the birthing pool inflated and was just starting to connect the hose to the kitchen sink when I had another contraction only 4 minutes from the last one.  Steve walked by with the hose, told me he loved me and started filling the pool.  The next contraction came less than three minutes after the last one.  I thought I felt the baby move down.  I just couldn’t believe baby would come this quickly, so I brushed the feeling off.

Then, contractions started coming right on top each other.  As soon as one would end, another would begin.  At the end of the next contraction, I felt a slight urge to push.  I said to Steve that I thought baby was coming, but he ignored me and kept on working on set up.  (I found out later that he didn’t believe me at first!)  When the next contraction came, I felt baby’s head move down quite a bit and the ‘ring of fire’ sensation started to build.  At that point I yelled, “THE BABY IS COMING!  CALL ERIN!!”

Steve ran over to me and ripped my shorts and underwear off.   He saw the top of the baby’s head.  At that point, he turned into a frantic mess.  He phoned the midwife (who was still 30 minutes away).  I told him to get some chux pads (which he proceeded put on the floor upside down J)  I was able to pant through two or three contractions during this time.  After the pads were down, I knelt down on the floor and hung onto the kitchen counter for dear life as my panting ceased to work and my body began to push the baby out on its own.

The baby was born in three contractions.  The first one pushed baby’s head out half way, the second pushed baby’s head out fully.  After this point, my contractions let up for a minute or so. Steve was able to talk to Erin on speaker phone and she encouraged us with calm affirmations.  When the third contraction came, baby’s shoulders and body were born into Stephen’s arms.  The time was 12:37 am.  I heard cries right away.  Steve passed the baby through my legs and I clutched the newborn to my chest.  Steve said, “We have a boy!”  But, the sex of the baby was the last thing on my mind.  I was just happy to have a healthy, pink, crying baby.  I looked down at the baby and saw him looking back at me with trusting, clear eyes.  He knew me.  I breathed in and smelt his sweet head.  It was such a serene, peaceful moment.  A moment I’ll never forget.

A few minutes after the baby was born, we made our way to our bedroom where I laid on our bed and waited for the midwives to arrive.  Baby latched on and began nursing like a pro.  15 minutes after our baby was born, the midwives walked into our bedroom, each one beaming a smile as they congratulated us.  Erin checked baby’s vital signs and found them all to be perfect.  As she was examining the rest of baby’s body, she got a strange look on her face.  She looked at Steve with a huge smile.  I saw him follow her gaze and watched as his face twisted up in confusion.  “It’s a girl!” he exclaimed.  It turns out in the pandemonium he mistook her parts for male!  Even though I was thrilled with having another little boy, all along I had secretly been hoping for a girl.  Emotion washed over me as I realized that the sweet little being I held on my chest was indeed the little girl I had been pining for.

Erin helped to deliver my placenta and afterward explained each part to me.  It was beautiful in a unique way.  She then checked my bottom.  I had two superficial tears that did not require stitches.  The assistant midwife prepared a wonderfully relaxing herbal bath for us.  I got into the bath with baby and Steve and I bathed her together.  She was calm, alert and perfect in every way.   After the bath, Steve, baby and I crawled back into our freshly made bed.  Baby was weighed and measured.  9 lbs 5 oz and 21 inches at 8 days ‘overdue’.  A healthy girl!

Erin talked to me about ways to keep comfortable post partum and explained warning signs to look out for.  We chatted for a few more minutes before the other midwives came in to say good night.  Erin tucked us in and told us to get some rest.  She said she would see us tomorrow and congratulated us yet again.  I listened as the midwives milled around, working on cleaning up from the night’s event.  They even did the laundry before they departed, bless their hearts.   I smiled to myself as I recounted the last few hours.  Who would have thought?!?  A three hour labor?  Even though my home birth didn’t go quite as planned, (I really wanted to be able to use that tub, darn it! J), I wouldn’t change it for the world.  The experience of an unassisted childbirth is something I’ll never forget.  It was so completely empowering.  Delivering our baby into my husband’s hands is an experience that has bonded us even closer together as a couple.

Birthing my sweet girl at home was everything I hoped it would be and more.  There was no fear and no stress.  There was just intensity and love.  I am so incredibly thankful to those who supported me in my journey, but I am especially thankful to Erin.   I am thankful to Erin for her quiet, calming presence.   I am thankful to Erin for genuinely caring about me, always listening to me, and never talking down to me.  But, I am most thankful to Erin for empowering me, believing in me and allowing me total control over my pregnancy and birth.

I  felt completely at peace with the world as I drifted off to sleep with my already snoozing husband on one side of me and my sweet little baby girl on the other.

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