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How the Webster Technique Can Help You Birth Without Fear

How the Webster Technique Can Help You Birth Without Fear

For many women, pregnancy can be a very uncomfortable experience. First, there are the initial hormonal changes and morning sickness; the feeling of being on an emotional roller-coaster for no good reason whatsoever and the unusual food cravings at all hours of the day (such as early, early morning Jack-in-the-Box taco runs for those husbands keeping track).

Next come the physical changes. As the baby develops and grows inside the womb, so does the momma’s belly. This expansion of the belly is an unavoidable change, part of the territory that comes with growing a baby. But oftentimes, this territory is accompanied by an alteration in spinal and pelvic alignment. This structural alteration, or misalignment, is often very uncomfortable and even painful as the pregnancy progresses.

One of the hormones that runs wild through a pregnant momma’s body is relaxin. Relaxin helps ligaments loosen up, especially those in the pelvic area, to accomodate the expansion of the growing baby and uterus. However, relaxin can be a double-edged sword. While it helps those bones shift in order to make way for the baby, the ligament laxity can make those pelvic bones very unstable in their position, allowing them to misalign in a very painful way. Couple this with the fact that a pregnant woman’s lumbar spinal curvature can increase as the size and weight of the belly increase (a temporary, forced hyperlordosis so as to speak), and you have the recipe for a very painful, very unhappy pregnancy. Letting go of fears surrounding labor are hard to do when you are pregnant, in pain, and unhappy about it.

This is where Chiropractic comes into play.

In Chiropractic, the two most important parts of the spine to pay attention to, more than any other areas, are the very top and very bottom of the spine. At the top is the atlas, or C1 vertebra. Proper position of this vertebra is important because of its close proximity to the brain stem, as well as its ability to create a domino effect of spinal misalignment from the top all the way down to the bottom where the pelvis and sacrum are. Proper alignment of the atlas is paramount for a healthy, properly aligned spine.

At the bottom of the spine is the pelvis and sacrum. The pelvis consists of six bones, three on each side: the ilium on the front, back, and side, the pubis in the lower front, and the ischium on the bottom.

ilium, ischium, pubis

Along with the sacrum and the elaborate network of ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves attached and intertwined within this area, one can start to imagine the complications that can arise for a pregnant woman with an improperly aligned pelvis, one of those being a baby in a breech position late in the pregnancy.

(As a side note, having a baby in a breech position does not necessarily mean you are doomed to have an inevitable c-section, but a baby with its head down will make life a lot easier for the momma and the baby during labor.)

Because of the elaborate setup of the pelvis and sacrum, they move as one most of the time. When one ilium has rocked back into a posterior misalignment, the opposite side is, by default, rocked forward. This can cause the sacrum to tilt posterior one way or the other, often causing pain and/or tightness in the opposite leg. Because of all this tilting and torquing of the pelvic bones, the birth canal will narrow, possibly complicating the baby’s ability to birth naturally.

Any combination of misalignments of these bones will contribute to troublesome, or even severe, lower back pain for a pregnant woman, and set the stage for a painful, long labor full of interventions that may result in an eventual c-section, a major surgery few women look forward to unless absolutely necessary.

Proper chiropractic care, in and of itself, is very beneficial for the pregnant mother. A properly aligned pelvis and sacrum will do wonders in avoiding any of the unfavorable scenarios previously mentioned. Properly aligned pelvic bones help the pelvic muscles stay loose, allowing the network of nerves within the pelvic area to transmit important messages from the nervous system to their intended destinations without interference.

round ligament painThe Webster In-Utero Constraint Technique, or simply the Webster Technique, takes it one step further. Dr. Larry Webster developed a chiropractic technique that balances the pelvis properly, while also reducing the stress to the ligaments that support the uterus, more specifically the round ligaments. Dr. Webster developed this technique after watching his own daughter suffer through a long, painful labor with a baby in the breech position.

The round ligaments act to hold the uterus in suspension within the abdomen. However, as the pregnancy goes on, these round ligaments can become thin and tight like a rubber band pulled to tension, causing sharp, spastic pains and restricting the space in which the baby has to maneuver within the womb. Restriction of this movement often causes a baby to stay in a breech position beyond 37 weeks. This can be a very disconcerting feeling to many women, as we know from firsthand experience. Once the pelvis and sacrum are properly aligned, the Webster Technique focuses on relieving the tightness in the round ligaments. This allows the baby to shift comfortably and freely within the womb so that he or she may get into proper position for his or her big journey to the outside world.

For more information on the Webster Technique, click here. If you are pregnant, the time to get under chiropractic care is yesterday. Chiropractic, including the Webster Technique, will stack the cards in favor of you and your growing baby.

And with all the fears the mainstream media, hospitals, AMA, and insurance companies have instilled in our society about childbirth, you need a stacked deck to stare down those fears with full faith and confidence in yourself, your body, and your baby.

Twin Home Birth Story: Frank and Footling Breech

Twin Home Birth Story: Frank and Footling Breech

Please research your options, risks and benefits, interview different care providers and choose what is best for your birth. This story is Melissa’s and her family’s…and theirs only. All pictures © Birth Without Fear Blog. {BWF}

January 26th, a Thursday, I laid in bed with my Hypnobabies CD on like every night. Hubby laid with me and quietly played games on his phone. Everything felt normal and I was just 2 hours from being 38 weeks.

At 10:30pm I got up to pee and with a giant gush there went my waters. I was a little nervous and knew it was time and my babies would be here soon. Holding back tears I called my midwife, doula, and best friend. I was a little nervous, because the waters were pink and I never had that before, but was reassured by my midwife.

An hour later, contractions started at about 10 minutes apart and irregular. So hubby and I started setting up the pool while we waited for the midwife assistant to come. She arrived around 2:30am, monitored the babies and they were doing great. The midwife lives about 4 hours away so we expected her around 4am. By this time we had a full house. It was reassuring and comfortable, but I was still waiting for something dramatic to happen.

I never felt out of control or scared. I felt the exact opposite. It was great! I was encouraged to rest because knowing baby A was breech, I would need my strength to push. I was able to rest, eat, shower…whatever I wanted without the restrictions of monitors and hospital rules.

After many hours of a boring labor without chaos, I was awakened by my first “Whoa” type of contraction around 6am. About this time my kids started waking up for school. These continued for the next hour as I calmly worked through them with breathing. My 3 kids ages 7,6,and 4 calmly went about business as usual as I worked. A few times they checked on me and asked when the babies would be here and I could only respond with soon.

At 7am it was time to get in the birthing pool that was set up in the middle of the dining room. It felt amazing and just what I needed at that point. My midwife seemed to know what I needed before I did. My 4 year old daughter was present the entire time. She loved rubbing my back with frequent costume changes so her brothers could see all her pretty outfits.

Finally around Noon, it was time to push. It took a lot of work to get baby A down in his complete breech position. The midwife tickled his feet and he was able to switch to a more favorable frank breech position scrotum presenting first.

Liam arrived at 2pm weighing in at 6lbs 10oz. He was beautiful. Very short time of cuddling him and I had to hand him of to Daddy. It was time to push again.

To everyone’s surprise Baby B was coming bag intact and also breech. I quickly pushed and Noah was born a footling breech at 2:49pm and weighing 6lbs 5oz. It was amazing I did it and I was grateful! My babies were here healthy, full term and I was without pain, medication, or tears.

After learning to juggle 2 babies at 1 time in the tub, it was time to move to the couch wrapped in blankets to cuddle, nurse, and eat a grand meal prepared by my wonderful husband. The kids came home from school to meet their new brothers still naked on the couch.

After a few hours we were ready for a warm herbal bath, clean jammies and tucked into our own bed where we stayed for the first week. It was wonderful no one rushed us. It was completely on our schedule.

Pictures: Footling Breech Baby Born Into Dad’s Hands

Pictures: Footling Breech Baby Born Into Dad’s Hands

*It is not advised to freebirth a breech baby at home. If you choose to have an unassisted birth, be prepared and have back up plans. Unassisted birth is not for everyone.*

I have 5 kids, but these are pictures of Cricket, my 4th natural birth, my 2nd UC.  Enjoy!~Laura

unassisted breech birth

unassisted breech birth feet

freebirth of footling breech baby

dad catches breech baby at home

breech baby born unassisted at home

unasissted home birth with family

family at unassisted home birth

breastfeeding unassisted birth baby

*These pictures and this couple’s birth are beautiful and I am grateful they have shared them with us. Breech birth is another variation of ‘normal’. This couple chose to birth their baby at home as they felt it was best for. If you have a breech baby, please note there are different complications that can arise. Many babies will turn in time for birth, but some remain breech. Talk with your care provider about the risks and benefits regarding a cesarean or vaginal birth. Do your own research and make an informed decision with the support of your care provider. If you feel a vaginal birth is best, make sure you have a competent care provider who is skilled and knowledgeable in assisting a breech baby.

In the News: Footling Breech Twin Boys…Born ‘A Year Apart’!

In the News: Footling Breech Twin Boys…Born ‘A Year Apart’!

I have seen and both heard about this story. I finally read it and realized why. Not only were these twin boys born on different days of different years, but they were born completely natural and BOTH boys were born feet first. Two footling breech babies. Nowadays that is rare as many care providers are not skilled in catching breech babies, especially footling breech.

“Both babies came out feet first, known as breech birth. But Rosputni credited a midwife, Eileen Stewart, with helping her get through the complications without any painkillers or labor-inducing drugs.”

They were born in the hospital, assisted by a midwife, just 33 minutes apart. Each of these minutes counted though as they were born the last few minutes of 2011 and the first few minutes of 2012.

“They have completely different birth dates and years,” Rosputni said. “I don’t know if it’s ever happened. I’ll have to do some research. I’ll have to Google it.

The boys appear to be fraternal, not identical, twins: Ronan has auburn hair like his beaming mom, while Rory has darker hair like his proud dad, Thomas.”

A hospital birth of twin boys both footling breech born without the use of any drugs?! Yes, that’s a noteworthy story for sure! To read the full story, visit Buffalo News.

For another birth story of twins born on separate days, read here.

Home Birth of Twins Born Past 41 Weeks, One Footling Breech

Home Birth of Twins Born Past 41 Weeks, One Footling Breech

*This mother and father chose to birth at home with midwives as they felt it was the best choice for them. A post dates, twin birth, with one baby footling breech, obviously carries different risks than a singleton, head down baby. Please work with your care provider to ensure a safe birth for you and your baby. ~Mrs. BWF

Travis & Harris were born on May 11, 2010 at home at 41 weeks and 3 days. It had been a wonderful pregnancy, but it was seriously time for birth. I had been having mild contractions off and on for about the last week, feeling my body right on the edge and knowing our boys were about ready to be born. Every morning, waking up pregnant again was starting to wear on me physically and emotionally– especially since all our friends and family were waiting so excitedly, and of course multiples so often come early or are induced. We had been thrilled to be past 36 weeks, which meant we were clear to go ahead with our plans to have the babies at home with our midwife. I always knew I was going to carry the boys full-term, but was surprised to see their due date come…and go.

We were feeling pressure to try induction to get things moving, especially after a nerve-wrecking appointment with our perinatologist. He had been telling me from the get-go that there was no way my uterus could handle much more than 10 pounds of baby and I would likely end up in the hospital with preemies, and that birthing my baby B vaginally in his breech position would be impossible without a manual breech extraction.

At that appointment the day before they were born, he ran through a host of frightening ‘risks’ and recommended we get to a hospital and get the babies out by whatever means necessary. I was grateful for the information about my sons that his practice provided through their ultrasound services, but I fully understood that his medical point of view was just that. As he had never attended a mother in natural labor and never witnessed a normal, unmanaged and unhindered birth. I had done thorough research throughout my pregnancy on every potential risk and method of response, looked to God and into my own heart. I only became more confident in the truth and in the practice of midwifery.

At 41 weeks and 2 days though……with him giving my husband intimidating ‘are you crazy???’ looks, it began to get stressful and brought my husband and I to a hard place. I wanted to wait at least until 42 weeks to the day, but agreed with my husband and midwife to go ahead and tentatively plan for induction at home by way of membrane sweeping, castor oil and herbal tinctures for 2 days out.

While I was more comfortable with that as opposed to going to the hospital for a bag of pitocin, it still felt so incredibly wrong to me. I knew that the best way to have my boys born safely, whole and healthy was to rely on my own body and mind and allow for a spontaneous natural labor to begin. Especially with twins and especially with my second baby breech, the risk of starting a false labor that could lead to a non-progressive labor that could put my second son’s life in danger was my biggest worry. These boys NEEDED to be born!

Our whole family turned to prayer, I interceded every way I knew how while my husband took a four-wheeler ride up to the top of our property and wrestled with his own emotions and worries, giving them up to God. He put the kids to bed that night and told me of the way our four-year-old daughter prayed for the boys to be born, asking Jesus to keep them and her mommy safe.

And the next 4am I began to feel stronger and more regular contractions than I had been feeling for the past week, which had been erratic and mixed with sensationless Braxton Hicks. I waited a few hours until 6am when I was sure they were intensifying and getting closer together to call my midwife and my mom to excitedly tell them ‘I’m in labor!!’.

My mom started sending mass emails to everyone she had praying for us, and my in-laws did the same when my husband let them know things had started for sure. We got in the shower and hugged and kissed through the contractions – we were both SO excited and feeling so grateful that this day was finally here and we were about to meet our sons! He dressed in jeans and his ‘birth shirt’, the same white button-front he had worn at the births of our daughter and son, and his Opa’s old Rolex that he had timed their contractions by. I was feeling the same orange cotton bra I had worn the day before, and nothing else.

My midwife and her apprentice arrived at about 7:30, and the other midwives came shortly afterwards, making a team of five. The three Certified Nurse Midwives (Julia, GB, Kristie) and two apprentices (Nina & Kate) were busy setting out all their supplies and readying the room, while I worked through the labor that was getting really intense very quickly. Our nanny arrived around 8 to take care of our older children; we kissed them and said ‘your brothers will be born soon, better start working on their birthday cake!’ So Angie kept them busy baking and playing for the morning. Though I heard that MaryJane refused to leave the house to go outside, wanting to hear as much as she could, worried about some of the odd noises I was making. Her Daddy promised her I was fine, told her not to worry and she’d be meeting her first new brother soon.

home breech twin birth

I had planned on laboring in the tub and birthing the first baby in water, but we wanted to collect their cord blood to bank and with the second baby breech there was just a lot going on and my midwife felt more comfortable having more access to me, so she recommended setting up a birthing stool off the edge of our bed. I had never seen one before, but as soon as I laid eyes on it I wanted to sit on it and let this baby come! He had been descending quickly and I was ready with my husband to my right and Kristie to my left for support. It wasn’t long before my baby’s head appeared; I reached down to feel him and loved feeling his thick dark hair. Another contraction and Travis’ head was fully born, after that his whole 8 pound 8 ounce body shot out like a rocket at 8:41!

He was perfect, we were overjoyed and it felt so good to take him right into my arms. Things slowed down and relaxed as we kissed, talked, laughed and held him. I was so excited and happy to see that sweet face I had felt nuzzling the inside of my lower right belly for so long. It turned out that his face had actually been quite smashed against me and had flattened his nose, left ear and left eye but in my blissed-out state I only saw complete perfection in him.

We wanted to be patient to allow my body and second baby adjust to the new room inside, the midwives held me and massaged my belly a little to help. I watched Julia and Nina take Travis to wipe him down and swaddle him, while I felt the urge to lay down on the bed to rest. My husband laid with me, and it wasn’t long before I had Travis back in my arms and put him to my breast. He was a fabulous eater right away, and had quite a persuasive way with my uterus, which began to contract again, moving his brother down. We called in MaryJane and Van in to meet Travis, MJ especially was so excited and declared him ‘the cutest little baby ever’. It was really grounding to see them and see their sweet reaction to their new brother. MaryJane had picked out two rubber duckies as gifts for the boys, brought in the one for Travis and set it on my chest so he could see it as he nursed – so sweet! We told them that Harrison was on his way and we’d call them in again to meet him soon. Over the next two hours we continued to nurse off and on, and tried a few different positions as things ramped up again.

I had been so curious through my pregnancy as to what it would be like waiting for my second baby……how much time would pass between their births? I really hoped to have some good time with Travis, to nurse him and get to know him. Julia had talked about how useful he could be in getting labor going again so while it was part of the plan, experiencing it was a wonderful surprise. I was so proud of him to be playing such an important part in his little brother’s birth and the process of the three of us working together was confirmation of what I knew to be the truth about birth. That a mother’s body and her baby’s body are designed to work in perfect harmony, and yes even with multiples! Her body wants to birth and her babies want to be born. Un-medicated and unforced, as long as a mother is willing, intuitive and calm, her babies will be born well. Being birth-educated and supported by the right people (even if that is only your husband or yourself!) can only help.

I was so incredibly grateful to be attended by the group of intuitive women around me. The mood was so joyful and expectant. I was so happy and smiling at each of them so much, receiving their kind smiles back and getting enthusiastic encouragement of how well my babies and I were doing was exactly what I needed. They were so in tune all three of us, knowing just what I was feeling by how I was behaving, gently offering me sips of water, massage, and pillows for support before I even knew I needed them. It’s a great thing to see people who love their work. I appreciated how skillfully they worked around us, monitoring the baby still in my belly, the baby in my arms and myself while communicating with each other in soft whispers, allowing me peace to get totally into my primal state. Which I was – completely letting myself go and getting in it…in it to win it! During my last birth with my now two-year-old son I had breathed quite silently and deeply all through it and this time while birthing Travis I had learned that quick shallow panting sort of like a thirsty dog felt really good during the stage where the baby was moving down. His birth was a perfect warm-up for birthing Harrison, as it was all so fresh in my mind. Too bad I was panting straight into my handsome husband’s face and was told later I had forgotten to brush my teeth…oh well.

So things started getting really heavy, Kate took Travis so I could really concentrate on the pushing I was about to do. I was in sort of a standing position, with my butt on the edge of the bed, leaning back on my husband behind me with my feet propped up on the birthing stool. I have never forgotten a birth video my doula had shown me years ago when I was preparing for my first birth with my daughter. It showed a Brazilian woman who was birthing twin sons, and her second baby was breech. She stood there like a queen…supported only by her own two feet and silently brought her baby into the world feet-first with a smile on her face. At the time seeing one little baby leg slip out and hang down between her Amazonian legs completely bent my mind. I thought it was the most insane thing I’d ever seen. And now five years later that scene seemed completely normal, she had become my muse of the last few months and the moment was here…my time to shine and become her as best as I possibly could.

I relaxed and waited for a contraction, worked with it and was rewarded with excited gasps from everyone as one little foot emerged. Cameras flashed and Harrison thought twice and drew that foot back inside, which made everyone laugh again. Then he showed us both of his fat little feet.

Another contraction and he was born to the waist, another and his body was born and his little arms slipped out. He did so beautifully through his whole birth, his heart rate stayed steady as his body dangled from me, supported gently by Julia as his head remained inside.

So this was the one, the clock was now ticking and they were telling me I needed to work with this next contraction like I have never worked before and push my baby out. The semi-reclining standing position had worked well as my midwife had theorized to help his head ease under my pubic bone, but now that his head was there it wasn’t feeling right anymore and I wanted to be more upright and leaning a bit forward. They helped me into that position and I waited for that contraction and wasn’t feeling it. I could feel the tension in the room building, but I had read many birth stories and commentary from obstetricians and midwives in the UK where they do many successful ‘hands off’ breech births and knew they had a standard of up to 10 minutes to allow for cord compression. It had only been a few minutes for us and his heart tones were still steady so I was not fearful, and filled only with faith and expectation.

That contraction came and I dug as deep as I could, closed my eyes and envisioned graphically what was happening. I saw my body easily opening wide to expose a little chin then chubby cheeks and round sweet eyes like my daughters. And then my final prize…the very top of his perfect hairy head. That little head I had patted and massaged and watched poke up at me from the top of my belly for months. I imagined planting a big sweet kiss right on top and with that…he was born! All 8 pounds and 15 fat ounces of him at 10:50am.

Julia laid him on the floor and told me to get down on all fours on the floor too. While his heart was still beating and his cord still pulsing, he was not breathing on his own yet. Resuscitation is a skill midwives are used to using, more often for breech babies so it was something we were all expecting might be needed. Julia was giving him mouth to mouth and massaging his body roughly. I was calm and silent, watching quite stupidly until they began encouraging me to talk to my baby. I began calling him by his name, stroking him and telling him what a good strong boy he was and how proud I was of him. William was panicking a bit, saying ‘Breathe boy breathe!’ and I told him ‘Don’t worry babe, he’s fine, he’ll breathe!’ It seemed less than a minute before he was breathing gurgling breaths and was placed safely in my arms. Ecstatic joy from everyone and a few tears from my husband followed. We had both of our sons, live, healthy and perfect – the weight of the world was off his shoulders, and off my belly. The relief and gratitude we felt was overwhelming.

Two more births still lay ahead of me…which ended up being only one as the boys placentas were fused together and both came out with one contraction, which was nice. My midwife cleaned me up and began to check me over; I was thrilled to hear her say I needed no stitches! Minimizing the risk of injury during birth was really the reason I had initially become interested in active natural birth and I was so pleased to be walking away intact, with two perfectly intact and unharmed infants.

Harrison was having a harder time nursing due to his tougher arrival, so I continued to nurse Travis while the midwives helped Harrison get his reflexes going. By this time we were fairly cleaned up and our older kids were back with us, checking out their new brothers. I had gifts for them from the boys, Van seemed really happy about the twins but was REALLY excited about his new trains. MJ got a little doll that she loved but she was way more interested in the two real live dolls in front of her, fascinated by watching GB work her finger in Harrison’s mouth, finding his ‘sweet spot’.

Looking around at our family of six felt so dreamlike, experiencing the birth of our latest members all together in such a normal setting made it an extra precious event that I will be forever grateful for.

SO grateful for our beautiful new sons!

SO grateful I sought out and considered differing opinions, did my own research, made my own decisions, took responsibility and birthed in the way and place I knew was safest for us.

SO grateful I chose reason and faith over irrational worry and fear.

SO grateful I allowed our boys to grow so big and healthy, and be born when they and my body were truly ready.

SO grateful for those last frustrating days of waiting for them, each day something happened within our family to prepare us for the boys in ways we didn’t even know we needed.

SO grateful to the friends and family who encouraged and truly supported us.
You know who you are!

SO grateful for the strong decisive man I married……
who decided to trust and stand by his wife!

SO grateful to live in the blessed state of Texas, where midwife attended homebirth is legal for multiples and breech babies. YEE-HAW!!!

This pregnancy and birth was a spiritual lesson and experience for me, so most of all I am grateful to the Divine Intelligence of the Creator who made this body of mine so full of energy, elasticity, and strength to love. God is SO good, I am beyond grateful for His promises, protection and to walk in His grace.

“Can it be that the Creator intended to draw mothers nearest to Himself at the moment of love’s fulfillment?” – Grantly Dick-Read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overcoming Fear to Experience Raw Power: A Breech Home Birth Story

Overcoming Fear to Experience Raw Power: A Breech Home Birth Story

This is the story of how I overcame doubt, fear, and negativity within myself so that I could experience the pure, raw power, intimacy, and spirituality of bringing life into this world.  At 36 weeks I found out our baby was breech and my plans for a homebirth were nearly destroyed. With the help of my amazing fiance, my incredible midwife Claudette, and the support of my friends and family, I decided to forgo the unnecessarian, trust birth, and stick to my dream of  birthing her in peace, without fear. I believe birth without fear is a right of passage, and has much to teach us about ourselves.

I learned to stop trying so hard to control things, and to live in the absolute present, following my heart without question, and to act without thinking.

Friday December 10th

I was going about my business as usual, nesting like a madwoman, when I had to take a break to use the bathroom. When I wiped, there was a big glob of rust-tinged mucus. Hmm. I decided to call my midwife Claudette. I had been told to report any sign of impending labor as my first labor was only 2 hours and they wanted to be sure to make it in time. This was around 12:40 pm. She told me to give her a call back if I started contracting, and said that she would stay in town. I called P at work and told him we may be having a baby today!

Around 2:00 my friend N dropped by with her kids. We were hanging out in the living room chatting when I noticed I was contracting regularly, albeit painlessly. N started timing my pressure waves and found that they were 10 minutes apart. By 3:00 they were exactly 8 minutes apart. I went to the bathroom and lost some more plug. I called Claudette again to keep her updated and we agreed to keep in touch. Around 4:00 I decided to go to the store as our fridge was nearly empty and I knew this little one would be here soon. I wandered around the store feeling high as a kite, not really able to efficiently watch my 4 year old, remember what the hell I went there for in the first place, and carry on a conversation with N all at the same time.

Around 4:30 I noticed that my contractions were slowing down, and my attitude was becoming progressively worse. I attribute the slowing and break in the pattern of my early labor to being around so many people and bright lights, and of course, my crappy attitude! My baby decided that this was not the night for her after all, and though at the time I was disappointed, I couldn’t blame her. I went home and cried like only a woman who thought she was in labor can. I cried not because I was sick of being pregnant, (I wasn’t) I cried because this was beginning like my first labor had, which I had no desire to repeat in any way.

I called Claudette to share the news and she reassured me that this didn’t seem like the kind of thing that would go on and on for 3 days. She said she would expect things to start back up soon, and to get some rest while I could. Wise woman! Off to bed I went, to sleep my last night of unbroken dreamless sleep, of about 10 hours.

Saturday, December 11th

P, A and I headed out to his mailbox and on our way back into town, stopped for lunch.

We got Mexican food and ate out front at a picnic table. I was taking a bunch of pictures of A and enjoying a street musician rocking out with some Led Zeppelin. I was feeling a lot of pressure, but no noticeable contractions. Before we left I took a trip to the bathroom and had a bit more of the mucus. We dropped off A with her dad, and headed out to the mall to pick up a few necessities, a postpartum support band (awesome) and a memory card for the camera. While wandering (note: following P) 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.

About a half hour later, in Radio Shack, I started timing these pressure sensations. I saw that they were 5 minutes apart, 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 it’s own!

I began to feel a real need to be at home, so we headed out. On the way there, 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 remember one of our neighbors coming over and talking to P while I was taking pictures.

“Woah, looks like she’s ready any time, eh?”
“Actually we think she might be in early labor now!”
“Um. Wow, so getting ready to head out to the hospital then?”
“No, just inside. We are having the baby here…”

He looked like he needed a drink after hearing that!

Funny how people would freak out when they found out we weren’t going to an institution to be “delivered”.  And he didn’t even tell him she was breech!

We went inside and tidied up a bit, then headed to our room to have a little time together just the two of us, before there were three. P had joked before how I should tell him when I wanted him to get her out, and he would. I will spare the details, but have to say it was amazing. The profound respect, love, and closeness we share made it an unforgettable moment that I will  treasure forever. The kind of stuff that makes a hormonal lady cry. (In a romantic and pure love way, of course!)
Lo and behold, about a half hour later things intensified. My contractions were coming 3 minutes apart now, and I was feeling a little more serious about what was happening. I dialed Claudette and handed P the phone. He kept asking me what to say, and mid-contraction I snapped “What do you think, damnit!?” Yep. Definitely in labor now!

One of the midwives, Dana, materialized at our doorway what seemed like 5 seconds later, Claudette appeared shortly after with armfuls of gear and started setting up in the planned birthing space, our living room. I recall staring at all the stuff, thinking to myself “Wow, that’s a whole lotta stuff they are going to have to pack up and put away in an hour or so when my labor stops… we really shouldn’t have called them, I can’t believe they are going through all this effort for nothing.” The fact I was having these thoughts in my living room naked in front of everyone wasn’t an indicator of true labor to me, apparently…

I went to my room, dimmed the lights and shut the door. I took a deep breath and tried to remember my hypnobirthing techniques. I’ll just go lie down, and quit fussing around with things I have to think about…just relax, go limp. Go within, meditate. I climbed onto my bed and tried to make myself comfy. I was getting situated with a pillow between my legs as another contraction hit. I laid down and took a big breath, trying to imagine my body sinking into the bed. My legs were in an awkward position with the pillow halfway between. As the contraction peaked the pain became unbearable. I leapt up and squatted beside the bed. It felt better this way, but I hadn’t caught it in time for it to be manageable. I howled and rocked, eyes watering with the intensity of it all.

As soon as it subsided I made a beeline for the hot tub. P had prepared it to be my little labor nest. He hung white tarp from a canopy, and strung beautiful landscaping lights from the ceiling. I climbed in and found the water to be too lukewarm, and wanted to turn it up. Claudette came outside and suggested that I keep it at 99, at the most 100 degrees. I wanted 101 or 102, but she cautioned that too hot may stall out my labor.

I was disappointed, but tried to go with the flow. I got comfy and started my slow breathing. I tried to remain seated and limp as I felt a contraction coming, but as it continued building, I got up and leaned over the side of the tub, rocking back and forth at the hips. I had one more contraction in the hot tub, and decided that it was way to small and constrictive to labor in at this time. I got out, toweled off, and went inside to dry by the fire.

I stood leaning on the mantle watching the flames dance and trying to picture myself melting into them, all fluid like, no tension. Another contraction hit and was so uncomfortable..why wasn’t this working?! Why can’t I be still, why can’t I just relax? I went back into my room, wanting to give up already. I noticed my attitude getting progressively worse, I starting cursing under my breath during contractions and tossing things roughly aside when they got in my way. I told P that the hypnobirthing may have been a scam, because it sure wasn’t working for me, and how was I supposed to just lie there and go limp when I felt like all I wanted to do was tense up?

Another contraction came, this was starting to feel like it would never end. I dropped to the ground in a deep squat, cursing and feeling resentful toward our baby. “Get the hell out baby, your hurting me!!”  I knew it sounded horrible, I couldn’t even remember if I had said it aloud or not, but I felt guilty for it immediately. P continued to assure me, fan me, bring me water and juice. I can’t remember his exact words, but I think they were along the lines of- “You need to let go. Stop trying to be in control, and just relax. Everything is fine.”

What a great doula! I nodded and tried to internalize his wisdom, to not let negativity engulf me and change my birth from the beautiful powerful experience it was meant to be. I needed to calm down and stop trying to fight my body’s efforts. I went into the bathroom to have a moment of privacy with my thoughts, and just to be alone.

After a bit I checked in the toilet bowl and saw blood. I looked down and saw a long bloody shreds of mucus coming from my body. OK! Things are happening! Cervix is dilating! I’m in labor! Up until this point I was still in denial of what was going on. Another wave of fear hit me. Oh no, I’m in labor! My heart started pounding fiercely, my vision blurred with panic. My hands began shaking and another contraction hit me, sending me to my hands and knees, howling and almost writhing on the floor. I can’t do this, I don’t want to do this… I jumped to my feet and ran into my bedroom where P was sitting on the bed, looking relaxed and completely unconcerned.

“P!! I’M IN LABOOOORR!!” I hollered at him, expecting some sort of profound reaction. He blinked at me and briefly looked at me like I was completely nucking futs. “My heart, it’s beating TOO FAST. Feel!! Oh God, what if this was a bad idea, what if something is WRONG?! WHAT IF I DIE??”  So much for calming down!

As always, he was unshakable, bless his heart. The perfect picture of calm, he looked deep into my eyes and assured me that everything was, is, and will be just fine. Claudette came in to check the baby’s heart again, slipping in quietly, kneeling under my massive belly for only a moment and then disappearing again.

I took another deep breath and gave myself a stern talking to with my “doula voice”- If you want a positive birth experience, you need to make it one, they don’t just happen. Surrender and completely let go of all negativity and fear! Birth without insecurity, without apology.

I could feel another contraction building, and felt the need to move quickly, so I did. With P 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 P this and headed for the front door. He gently steered me away and back down the hall. I complained and tried to argue, 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 bellydance-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 daughters 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’s 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 daughters 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 was bleeding earlier. 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. I am forever grateful that she completely respected my wishes of hands off and lots of privacy. 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. Another contraction came and I immediately began my ritual of pacing and swinging my arms. P asked if I was going to lunge and suggested our nightstand. “Next time, next time..” I muttered and waved my hand at him, knowing that I was full of it and had no intention of doing that at all and headed into A’s room again.

Somehow, in between that contraction and the next, I changed my tune and made a commitment to myself and our baby that I would do what I had to do, no matter how crazy things got. I took a deep breath and put my foot up on my daughters 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 achey down low, then lower, a burning sensation deep within my pelvis. Standing still gave me a chance to notice and really feel what was happening within me, and it almost felt good. I made loud noises, attempting to let some of the insanely intense energy out of me, then it was done. Alright, I thought, I can do this. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, none of my labor so far was as hard as I was expecting it to be.

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! Another pressure wave was coming, and I tried out the nightstand. Low and loud noises made it possible, even manageable. As the contraction wound down, the top of my belly curled over and a tell-tale grunt followed. “Go get them, tell them I feel like pushing!!!!” I was ecstatic. P went into the living room to relay the news, and they came in to observe. I tried fiddling with the camera, putting in the 8 gig card we bought earlier and trying to get the video to work. I passed it to P as I felt myself starting another rush. My baby was minutes from being earthside and nobody could get the camera to work!

Claudette checked me again, saying I was complete in the back, but at 9.5 in the front, so I should wait on pushing as long as possible and keep up with the lunges. (Breech is a variation of normal, but it’s vital to wait until absolute full dilation for the best attempt at a complication free delivery).

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 on a beach-side meadow, complete peace and stillness, time ceased to exist.

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

Immediately the urge to push was unavoidable. I notified Claudette that I could no longer wait and was going to just go for it. I was vaguely aware of Dana running supplies in from the living room as fast as she could. How wonderful! It never occurred to them to ask me to move.

P tried to get behind me to see her emerge, but I asked him to get in front of me. I needed him there to hold my hands as I rode this tsunami to shore. I squeezed his hands, and let go. I felt her body stretch mine to the limit, 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 hand. I shut my eyes tight and pushed her out into Claudette’s ready hands.

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

Claudette caught her into her chest, without even a chance to put on gloves. She passed her through my legs and set her on the bed. “Short cord, OK?” I looked at my new daughter. Crying, purple lips, wide frantic eyes, chubby and absolutely beautiful. I tried to scoop her up to my ches,t 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”

Welcome to earth baby! 2 minutes of pushing, no tearing! Super easy. 11:41 pm, 12.11.10

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!)

Right after…

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!), 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 6lbs 13.5 ozs. I was on top of the world. I did it! WE did it! I had my little “frankie” at home, and it was even more amazing than I thought it could be.


For those interested, here is her placenta! P and Dana encapsulated it for me to help with PPD. So far so good. 🙂

A halo around the tree of life!
Breech Birth Video: Faith in God and His Will

Breech Birth Video: Faith in God and His Will

Amanda sent her video in to share with the BWF Mamas. Her journey, after a loss and finding out her baby was breech took a lot of research, education and faith. She was open to listening to her instincts and to God. Her faith in both carried her through fearing another loss, finding out her baby was breech and how to birth, then finding support in having a vaginal breech birth! Thank you Amanda for sharing your journey, your courage and your faith with us. ~Mrs. BWF

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