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All’s Well That Ends Well: A Surprise Breech Birth

All’s Well That Ends Well: A Surprise Breech Birth

After a smooth and complication-free pregnancy, I expected my birth to be no different. I had chosen a free-standing birth center and a team of midwives for my care providers, took Bradley Method classes, and felt ready to have a pretty run of the mill, unmedicated, intervention-free birth. Little did we know what was in store for us…

I went into labor on a Friday night, the day after my due date, and had a lengthy labor at home, with contractions not really picking up until the middle of the night Saturday night. Our doula joined us at around 2:00am early Sunday morning, and we headed to the birth center a couple of hours later once my contractions were about 3 minutes apart.

Upon arrival at the birth center, I was told I was 7 cm dilated, and labored there for another hour or so before I started feeling the urge to push. My water broke shortly after, and our midwife noticed meconium in the fluid, so I was told I couldn’t get in the tub like I had hoped to, and that baby needed to come out quickly (to prevent baby aspirating the meconium, which can lead to infection). A couple minutes later, as baby boy started to crown, we heard one of our midwives exclaim “Wow, that is the baldest baby I’ve ever seen!” My husband and I both raised an eyebrow at that comment, as we had expected our little guy to have a full head of hair, like we both had as newborns. A few pushes later is when the world stopped spinning for a brief moment while it dawned on everyone why our baby was so bald: it wasn’t his head that was crowning, it was his butt! Baby boy was breech, and we had no idea until this moment.

How did we get to this moment without knowing he was breech, you may ask? That’s a great question, and one we’ll never have the answer to. Our guy was breech at both ultrasounds at 20 and 24 weeks, but we were assured that most babies are breech at that point, and we had plenty of time for him to turn on his own. During subsequent checks by our midwife (including an internal exam just to be sure!) we were told he had indeed moved into the head down position. So, was he breech that whole time and somehow fooled our midwife? Or did he turn sometime in the days or hours leading up to delivery? We’ll never know….

What we do know, however, is that we were fortunate enough to have an extremely skilled team of midwives present at our birth, with whom we owe everything to! Our lead midwife had delivered breech babies at home births before, so she knew exactly what to do, and sprang into action. Basically, the biggest risk with delivering a breech baby is the point at which the head is being delivered; there’s a chance that the baby’s chin can get caught on the pelvic bone and essentially get stuck. After I had successfully pushed the little guy’s body out, I was told to stop pushing. My midwife had one person pushing down on the top of his head from the outside, while she reached in and hooked a finger into his lower jaw – all in an effort to keep his chin tucked to his chest and prevent it from getting caught on my pelvic bone. One more big push later, and he was out!

While it was a huge relief to have our guy delivered (after just a half hour of intense pushing), we weren’t quite out of the woods yet. His breathing wasn’t quite where they wanted it to be, so they decided to transfer him, accompanied by my husband, to the hospital for closer monitoring. I had to stay behind because I had two two-degree tears that needed repairing, and a significant amount of hemorrhaging from my placenta detaching early. Luckily, however, my little man got a clean bill of health almost immediately upon arriving at the hospital and was able to return to me within just a couple of hours for his first feed and snuggles.

We feel so incredibly fortunate to have had the expert team at our birth that we did. It’s scary to think about all the ways that my surprise breech birth could have gone terribly wrong, but I choose instead to feel grateful for how well it did turn out. While I didn’t go into my birth thinking I was having an unmedicated, vaginal breech birth, I’m glad that my choice of care team supported that when it became a possibility. Had I been in a hospital, I would have had an emergency c-section no question, and would have possibly ended up with irreversible damage to my body due to the fact that baby boy was already on his way out when his positioning was discovered. All’s well that ends well, and we joyfully welcomed Ember Daniel into the world, backwards, on November 1st, 2015 at 6:56am.

breech, breech birth, midwife

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Submitted by Julia Hogan.

Photographs by Kyla Berry Photography

Oh, That Smile – From Preeclampsia to Emergency C-Section to NICU

Oh, That Smile – From Preeclampsia to Emergency C-Section to NICU

nicu, c-section, hospital birthIt’s that feeling you get as a pregnant woman. The one that’s like, “Holy crap, this is finally happening. I’m finally going to have this baby.” However, for me, I experienced those feelings more than once with my first daughter.

I was starting to show signs of preeclampsia in the 28th week of my pregnancy. My feet and ankles started to swell and my mom mentioned it could be preeclampsia. I thought she was crazy because everything was going great up until that point. A couple nights later I started seeing flashing lights. I asked my husband to google “flashing lights during pregnancy” and the first thing that popped up was preeclampsia. I called my doctor the next day and told her my concerns. She suggested that I go in and get checked out.

When I got to the clinic the nurse took my blood pressure right away. After doing so she said, “Hmm, that can’t be right. Let me try again.” After the second attempt she told me she was going to grab another nurse and have her try. Once the new nurse came in they proceeded to take my blood pressure again. Once they took it they looked at each other and immediately told me I needed to lie down. I asked if everything was okay and they told me my blood pressure was a little high but there was nothing to worry about. After about 45 minutes they sent me to have blood and urine tests done. My urine came back showing signs of protein in it. At this point we hadn’t even talked about preeclampsia. I asked my doctor if that’s what I had and she was quick to tell me no. I “wasn’t showing enough signs” for it to be. Let’s see, swollen feet and ankles, seeing flashing lights, high blood pressure and now protein in my urine. All signs of preeclampsia. I went home frustrated but my thought was, “She’s a doctor. She obviously knows more than I do.”

My next appointment came and again, high blood pressure and now even more protien in my urine. The doctor ordered an ultrasound to make sure baby was doing fine, which she was. (We didn’t find out she was a girl until she was born.) Again she told me it wasn’t preeclampsia. Having another high blood pressure reading she wanted me to go and get my own blood pressure cuff. I was told to take it throughout the day to make sure it wasn’t getting too high. Around the 31st week of my pregnancy my husband and I went to the ER with my blood pressure reading 170/110. They hooked me up to the fetal monitor and once they were confident baby was fine they sent me home. We couldn’t have been there much longer than an hour. Both my husband and I were frustrated they weren’t admitting me to be monitored more closely. We felt like we were the only ones taking this seriously. No one was listening to our concerns. At my 32 week appointment it was the same type of thing. High blood pressure, more protein. Baby was still doing fine though, so she saw no concern. And still, no preeclampsia.

About an hour after my appointment I got a call from the hospital saying my doctor had consulted with another doctor and he wanted me admitted right away for close monitoring. Finally, someone was taking this seriously!

Once admitted I felt like I could take a huge breath of relief. The new doctor came in and said he wanted to do a 24 hour urine test. I asked him what he thought was going on since my doctor said I didn’t have preeclampsia, and he responded by saying he was taken aback by the fact she said it wasn’t preeclampsia. He informed me I did in fact have preeclampsia and it was severe. As much as I didn’t want to hear that, it was nice knowing I was no longer the only person thinking that.

I stayed in the hospital for three days and two nights before being sent home on bed rest with appointments every other day. Our goal was to make it to 34 weeks.

Once our 34 week appointment came I was feeling really good. I made it to the target date and that was huge for me! I fully expected to go to my appointment and be sent home just like every other appointment. I was hooked up to the fetal monitor and everything seemed fine; baby was active as normal. The nurse came and checked on us a few times. One of the times she came in and tore off all the paper with the baby’s readings on it. She didn’t say much and I really didn’t think much of it. A bit later my doctor came in. She told me the baby’s heart rate wasn’t quite where she wanted it to be and she was no longer comfortable with the pregnancy. She told me to go home, take a nap, pack my bags and be to the hospital by 3:00pm. I was being admitted. Wow. Not at all how I planned my day!

I was admitted at 34 weeks exactly. Once at the hospital we went over the plan she had put together. They hooked me up to the monitor, and I was only allowed to leave the bed for using the bathroom. She was going to insert a foley catheter on both sides of my cervix and fill each side with saline solution to help soften my cervix before inducing me. She inserted it around 9:00pm on our first night in the hospital. It was not a fun experience and I was thankful when it was over. She told me if it fell out on its own it meant I was dilated to a four or a five, and that’s when they would induce. I woke up at 5:0 am to use the restroom and to my surprise it fell out. Yay! I was very relieved that I had dilated so quickly.

At 5:30am a nurse came in and started the pitocin. It was happening. We were (hopefully) going to meet our baby that day. Soon after they started the pitocin I started having contractions. I tried to fall back asleep so I could be rested and ready for delivery.

At 9:00am my doctor came in and told me she was going to check to see how far I had progressed. I was very hopeful I’d be dilated to at least a five if not more. As she was checking me, she informed me I was only dilated to a one. Umm, what? She said she must have inserted the foley catheter wrong and that’s why it fell out. Talk about a disappointment! I was so frustrated with both the nurse for not checking me right away, and myself for not insisting on being checked.

nicu, c-section, hospital birth

So there we were. Back to square one. They stopped the pitocin and said they were going to insert another foley catheter. This was definitely NOT something I wanted to go through again. At this point, we found ourselves playing the waiting game. Again. Almost right away I started to have really bad cramping. By 5:00pm I was in active labor. Contractions were coming roughly every 30 seconds and lasting around a minute to a minute and a half.

Now to truly appreciate (haha!) this whole situation, one needs to keep in mind that I was not allowed to get out of bed and move around. I found that to be one of the worst things. I wanted SO badly to get up and walk!

nicu, c-section, hospital birth

My doctor came in and talked to me about getting an epidural. I told her I really wanted to try a natural birth, and that I’d rather not receive it. She then informed me that my blood pressure was too high and the epidural would be the best option to help bring it down. Reluctantly, I agreed that would be best. After about a bag and a half of fluids were pumped into me in preparation for the epidural, my doctor came back saying the anesthesiologist wanted to save the epidural for the next day when I would most likely be delivering. So at that point, the epidural became a no-go. Plus, I was still in active labor.

At that point it was around 9:00pm and 12 hours after the catheter was put in. The doctor pulled on it a bit and said I wasn’t dilated yet and she wanted to leave it in. This was a bit concerning to me, because she had previously told us it could only be in for 12 hours before needing to be removed. She said it would be fine as long as they removed it after another 12 hours. Around 10:00pm they gave me a pain medication to help with my blood pressure, and to hopefully get me some much needed rest. Surprisingly, I slept really well!

At 9:00am the next morning my doctor came in to remove the catheter. She pulled on it and it came right out. She checked me and said I was dilated to a four and she could feel the baby’s head so she was going to break my water. Okay, this is it. Things are really starting to progress! After she broke my water they were having a hard time monitoring baby’s heartrate. She decided to stick a little probe in the baby’s skull that hooked up to the machine to help read baby’s heartrate better.

My contractions were really starting to pick up, so around 10:00am she put an order in for the epidural. The anesthesiologist came up around 10:45am or so to administer it. He explained what all he was doing and said if he hit a nerve it would send a shock through that side of my body. As if I wasn’t scared enough already! He said it probably wouldn’t happen and not to worry. Well, as luck may have it he hit a nerve on my right side. Talk about a surprise! After the epidural took effect the doctor wanted to check and see how far dilated I was. I was so surprised when she told me I was at a nine! We were so close!

She then went on to say, “I don’t think I’m feeling the baby’s head anymore.” Huh? She had been head down for weeks up until this point. When did she flip? We thought that maybe because the catheter was left in for so long and I was in such active labor she had nowhere to go and ended up flipping. Our doctor said she was head down when she broke my water though. At that point, she had to put an order in for an ultrasound. It was now around 11:30am and baby’s heartrate is starting to drop. They gave me oxygen and turned me on my side. I don’t remember what my blood pressure was at but it was dangerously high. They informed me that once the ultrasound tech got there and if baby was turned they would have to do an emergency cesarean right away. It was Thanksgiving Day so they didn’t have the staff they normally would and were having to call people in. Once the ultrasound tech got there (which felt like forever) he confirmed baby had flipped. Baby was sideways so when our doctor broke my water thinking she felt the ridges on baby’s head she was actually feeling her ribcage.

As if they weren’t already, that’s when things got absolutely crazy. At that point baby was in so much distress and my blood pressure was only going up. They gave me a couple pieces of papers to sign agreeing to the c-section, while they gave my husband his clothes to quickly change into. Someone hopped on my bed and started putting my catheter in as two other nurses started wheeling us toward the door. Somehow, I was able to stay surprisingly calm through all of this. My husband stayed behind as they quickly wheeled me away.

While in the OR, I had roughly 10 people all doing something different to me. Once I was cleaned and ready to go (it only took them a couple minutes) the surgeon did the pinch test to see how much I could feel. Unfortunately, I still had much more feeling than I should have had at that point. Since a nerve was hit on my right side while administering the epidural, the insert got moved more to the left and I had more feeling on my right side. The surgeon quickly told the anesthesiologist to put me under, because they didn’t have any time to push more epidural and wait for it to kick in. He put the mask on me and I knew I needed to go under as fast as I could so I took three great big breaths. He quickly removed the mask while saying my blood pressure was 187/118 and he couldn’t put me under with it being so high. I began by trying to go under, only to find myself fighting to stay awake! She did the pinch test again and asked what I could feel. I didn’t know how much I was suppose to feel with this being my first birth. I told her it felt like someone was pinching me really hard using their finger nails. I asked the anesthesiologist if I could hold his hand because my husband wasn’t there yet and at this point I needed someone. I remember him looking at the surgeon and saying, “You can’t cut yet! Give her at least another minute!” and then she said to me, “I’m sorry, sweetie, we don’t have a minute. I need to cut now!” And that’s what she did. Thank goodness my adrenalin was pumping because I think it would have hurt much worse if it wasn’t. About a minute into the surgery they finally let my husband come in. I had never been so happy to see him! About 30 seconds later we heard “cord around the neck, cord around the neck” immediately followed by the cry of our first child.

A beautiful little girl.

nicu, c-section, hospital birth

They got her out in just under two minutes. She was 4lbs 4oz at birth and 18 inches long. She was perfect, ours, and worth every single thing we went through to bring her into this world. Once I knew she was born and safe is when I really started to feel more pain. I was pretty out of it due to the anesthesia, and was trying my best to stay awake. I was not going to miss seeing our daughter for the first time! Over at the table the pediatrician noticed a huge bruise on the one side of our baby. The probe our doctor thought she put in our baby’s skull to monitor her heart rate had been stuck in her ribcage which had caused it to bruise, and weep. Once she was bandaged up, my husband was able to bring her over to show me. At this point my vision was so blurry I could hardly see anything. I remember trying to close my one eye and focus the other on her as best as I could. She was able to stay in the OR for a little bit and then was taken to the ICU for closer monitoring. Once she left the room I was finally able to close my eyes and pass out.

I was brought back to my room after about an hour. I wanted so badly to see and hold our little girl! I kept asking but my nurse kept saying no. I realized I needed my rest, but I felt as though I could just as easily rest in the same room as my baby. At the very next shift change I got a new nurse who agreed to wheel my bed into the ICU and I was finally able to see our daughter! Five hours old. It was the most incredible moment.

The next day our surgeon came in and told us just how lucky we were to have our daughter. She said her cord was abnormally short, and would have been too short to deliver vaginally. She said if I would have tried pushing it would have most likely been stretched too far, and with it being wrapped around her neck would have cut off oxygen. She continued to say that if she hadn’t flipped forcing us to do a c-section, we would have most likely lost her.

There were so many things I thought were going “wrong” in the moment they were happening. Looking back, it all went perfectly.

nicu, c-section, hospital birth

nicu, c-section, hospital birth

nicu, c-section, hospital birth

nicu, c-section, hospital birth

Submitted by Lauren V. 

Talking High School Mascots After a C-Section

Talking High School Mascots After a C-Section

As a mother, I had this sort of primal need to birth my children the way women’s bodies were designed to birth children. My first two children were born after pitocin inductions and epidurals. Their births were special and miraculous, don’t get me wrong, but I always wondered what it would be like to have a baby without any intervention, I wondered how different, maybe even more wonderful, the initial bonding experience would be when there were no medications inhibiting the bonding hormones.

When we were surprised with the news that we were expecting our third baby, I decided immediately that I would do whatever I could to have this baby the “right way”. I interviewed midwives, consulted with doulas, watched the movies, read the books, made an elaborate birth plan that my wonderful OB was totally on board with, I was 100% prepared for natural child birth.

Then life happened.

My husband accepted a job 200+ miles away. That in itself made me question my decision to let my body go into labor when it was ready because I was so worried he wouldn’t make it in time as we were not able to move before the baby’s due date. There was lots of traveling back and forth so we could all be together and operate our family as normally as possible. I try really hard to choose joy in every situation and to be as content as possible but this was a tough season! At my 20 week anatomy scan baby girl was breech. We weren’t concerned at that point because there was plenty of room and time for her to turn. Everything else was going perfectly! As time went on, I kept wondering if I wasn’t feeling her head under my ribs, but brushed it off, knowing that there was still time. At 35 weeks, she was breech still! I think I pretty much yelled at my doctor “I am NOT having a c section for my third baby!” He giggled at me and told me to relax, again, there was still time and I had options. (he’s the best by the way!)

36 weeks, she was transverse, Dr. and I both thought she was on her way to head down so we decided to wait another week before making any decisions. In the mean time, I had been doing all kinds of things to encourage her to turn and continued to do so throughout the remainder of the pregnancy. Between week 36 and 37 I did tons of research on breech birth, external cephelac versions, and breech cesarean births. I read medical studies, checked statistics, etc.

My doctor had given me 3 options if she didn’t turn.

1. ECV

2. Planned cesarean

3. Spontaneous labor resulting in cesarean

I decided I wanted to do what was safest for baby and in my opinion, a planned c section was the safest. No risk of not making it to the hospital on time resulting in an unplanned breech vaginal birth. I didn’t like the potential risks to baby that could come with an ECV either so I declined that option as well.

Of course she was still breech at 37 weeks and again at 38 weeks so we scheduled the cesarean. I was nervous because it was something new to me, I was disappointed because this was not the birth I wanted, but I was mostly ready to get our baby in our arms safely.

I arrived at the hospital a couple of hours before the surgery time. They monitored me and the baby for a bit, started an IV, and then my OB came in to make sure baby was still breech. She had moved back to transverse, so the goal was to turn her during the cesarean and deliver her head first because that is the safest way even by cesarean. The procedure was not bad at all, I was tearful when we got to the OR but not because I was afraid, it was just really an emotional moment. The spinal was fine, my legs went numb quickly as well as everything else below my armpits and then my husband was able to come in to be with me during the surgery. The surgical team was great! So sweet and encouraging! Not long after my OB made the incision, he told me that she was breech again! Foot first! I could swear I felt her crawling up toward my ribs away from the doctor when he was delivering her.

He said, “She’s still a girl and she has a ton of hair!”

She wasn’t crying though. I’m not sure how long it was before I heard her first little cry but it felt like an eternity! They brought her to me to snuggle for a minute and then my husband followed her to the nursery to be cleaned up and monitored. She was 7lbs 3oz and 19 inches. My smallest baby.

We all joked and talked about high school mascots while the doctors were stitching me up (I don’t know why this was the topic of our conversation but it’s funny) I joked that I should have had all of my babies that way since it was so quick and easy to!

Before I knew it they were wheeling me to recovery and I was aching to hold my baby. My doctor came in and let me know that Kopper was needing a little extra help because she inhaled and swallowed some fluid during the delivery, I wasn’t too worried because I trusted the nurses to take good care of her but I sure wanted to snuggle her. She ended up having to stay all day and night in the nursery being monitored which was really sad but she made a full recovery with no problems nursing!

My recovery was much easier than I expected! I was never in horrible pain and I had wonderful nurses that helped me get up and moving as soon as I was physically able.

This birth was supposed to be different, and that it was! It reminded me that our plans aren’t always the best plans.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:9

birth without fear

birth without fear

birth without fear

Positive Support for Pregnant Mamas with Breech Babies

Positive Support for Pregnant Mamas with Breech Babies

birth without fear, breech birth, breech, frank breech, footling breech, pregnant, birth, childbirthI have written before how a breech baby is another variation of normal. Having a breech presentation does not mean you automatically need to schedule a c-section. Remember, our babies are wise and know just how they need to be for birth. Most of the time, babies will turn, even late in pregnancy and labor!!!  You can read my other post for more thoughts, support and ideas here.

I want to share a few breech birth videos for inspiration. My first baby was breech and everyone I talked to said, “Sure, you can have a vaginal breech birth, but if it goes bad, it will do so fast.” Not very encouraging. I had no where to turn to for POSITIVE support. I did have a c-section after doing everything I could to help baby turn. I had to fight for that opportunity.

So, if you are finding yourself pregnant with a breech baby that is not turning, you have our support and you do have options, one of them being cesarean birth.

As always, consult with your midwife or doctor and remember you can change providers. Assisting in breech deliveries has become a lost art, but there are those who are skilled and experienced in doing so.

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breech

Originally written 10/29/2010.

With my first child, I knew I wanted a natural birth. I chose the local birth center and hired the team of midwives. I attended my regular appointments and the birth classes they offered. Starting around 30 weeks I questioned the position of my baby. I asked three of the midwives at three different appointments if they could tell if my baby was head down. I was overweight at the time and did not think palpation was enough to determine her position. On midwife #3, I requested that we check it out and she agreed.

At my ultrasound appointment and 36 weeks pregnant, I was not shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Yep, she is breech.” I was not surprised, but I was devastated. This was not something I was educated about or prepared for. Looking back, I was just along for the ride. Big mistake. My doula told me there was still time for her to turn, but not being educated about this, I wasn’t sure.

I started asking my midwives, chiropractors and friends about breech vaginal birth. All I received were mixed answers and usually, “Yes, it can be done, but if something goes wrong it will happen fast. Why take the risk?!” I did a few things, like hanging upside down frequently and handstands in the pool. My chiropractor did the Webster technique, as it has a high success rate in giving babies more room to turn head down. At 39 weeks I had an inversion done. Let me tell you that is painful and unnatural. Wouldn’t do it again.

Finally at 39 weeks I met with a good OB. My husband and I decided to have a c-section because we knew the OB was there to do it (he was in a practice with 16 docs). It was a very emotional ride and left me wondering why there wasn’t more information or support of breech birth.

If you are trying to educate yourself more or are finding yourself in this situation, you might be asking, “What can I do differently? I need more information!” I am here to provide just that for you. Educate yourself, pray about it (or meditate) and make the best choice for you and your baby. Be strong and get the right support.

So, you find out that your baby is breech. What now?

Don’t panic! It’s going to be OK. Your baby is breech for a reason. (S)he may or may not turn and can do so even right before birth. So, be patient.

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breechWhich breech presentation is your baby favoring? There are three common types.

  • Frank Breech, which tends to be the most favorable. This is when baby’s bottom presents first and feet are by the head.
  • Footling Breech is when baby has one or both feet presenting first.
  • Complete Breech is when your baby is comfy sitting cross legged.

There are things you can do to help baby turn if that is what baby wants. Remember, your baby knows best what position to be in for his/her birth. Look into the following options:

Even when you decide to have faith in your body and your baby, you still want to be prepared and know how to help him/her gently enter this world. Here are some things to consider and research.

  • Know and be firm in your knowledge that a breech baby does not automatically mean c-section.
  • Make sure your OB or midwife is 100% on board and does not fear breech birth.
  • Always listen to YOUR intuition. If you have a fear, process it. If someone else does, don’t waiver in your faith. Trust your gut!
  • When birthing, get in a favorable position like standing, squatting, or even hand and knees (unless your body is telling you different).
  • Read a lot of great breech birth stories! Here is one with awesome pictures.
  • Do NOT let anyone (your midwife, spouse, doula, OB, etc.) pull on baby!
  • Something to educate yourself on further is making sure baby’s head is birthed before they start breathing. The book Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White was helpful for me.
  • Have a back up plan. There is nothing wrong with having one.  Don’t focus on it, but know it’s there. Continue to have faith that your vaginal birth will be wonderful and successful.
  • If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: even if you have a c-section, WAIT. Wait for baby to start labor. I say this for two reasons. First, you will know for sure that your baby is ready to be earthside. Second, is that you have given your baby every chance to turn head down. In hindsight, my first baby was born at least 3 weeks early as all my other babies have been born between 42-44 weeks!

A baby that is breech is not an automatic dangerous situation or cesarean. Breech babies have different risk factors and those should be discussed with your care provider, so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your baby and birth, with their support.

Three Breech Births {One Cesarean And Two VBACs}

Three Breech Births {One Cesarean And Two VBACs}

My breech babies: Brooke, Brady and Blake.

“The road to motherhood is not always a clear and simple journey. I learned this first hand as all of my babies presented breech. I do think more women should be given the choice with breech babies – it should be an option to birth vaginally. Where we live, midwife’s are not allowed to deliver breech babies so we did have to go to the hospital [for VBAC] but it was such a different experience from my first [a cesarean].” – Heidi

Brooke Elizabeth

Fall of 2006, I was so excited to be pregnant with our first child and like lots of moms-to-be I read all the pregnancy books on what to expect. I knew I wanted a natural birth but never once entertained the thought that things would not go the way I planned. My mom had 4 natural deliveries so I assumed that I would have similar birth experiences.

On the morning of February 26, 2007, I experienced a mild backache and found it difficult to sit at my desk at work. After struggling through the snowy trek of walking our dogs, and finishing my nightly routines, I could not sleep because of nagging discomfort in my lower back and decided to get into the tub around 7 p.m., which offered some relief. After my second bath, still not being able to sleep, and getting sick, I realized I was in labour!

We called our doula at 3 a.m.; contractions felt like Braxton Hicks1 but were not going away and I could not feel the baby moving anymore. To ease our worry, she suggested we head to the hospital to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Upon arriving at the hospital, around 6 a.m., I was confirmed I was 6-7cm and in full labour. I was shocked I had progressed so far. Then the nurse announced she felt feet rather than a head. As soon as the breech diagnosis was confirmed, things started happening really quickly. I felt like a bystander, and watched as I was prepped for an emergency cesarean section.

I was devastated. I asked through tears if baby would turn or if I could still deliver naturally. The obstetrician laughed; I had no choice – a cesarean section was my only option. I did not question these decisions that my caregivers made and never thought that I could advocate for a vaginal breech birth. It seemed like breech presentations meant babies could not be physically birthed naturally.

Instead of amazing memories of bringing a precious baby into the world, I will never forget feelings of utter powerlessness and disrespect. The environment did not lend itself to discussion about alternatives or my choices. I did not feel I could express myself or that I had an informed opinion. At first I thought I had failed myself and my baby—that I should have spoken up. Later I realized that even if I had the system would not have listened to me—unless I transformed myself into a screaming and angry woman, which is uncalled for. Non-informed consent and blind trust have been institutionalized for so long that no-one even notices this hospital culture. Now I see that my rights were utterly disregarded. I still cry when I think about it.

Brooke Elizabeth, 6lb 7oz, was named by her father after she was born. It felt amazing to finally meet my baby, but discouraging that I had to park myself outside the ICU in order to care for my healthy child, with good Apgar scores. I brought home a thriving, beautiful baby girl, yet her birth was one of the most painful and traumatic times of my life.

Brady James

Pregnant with my second, winter of 2008, I knew I wanted a completely different birth experience and chose the care of a midwife. I was still unsure of birthing at home, because I didn’t know anyone who had experienced a homebirth, yet this seemed like my only alternative outside of the hospital (birth centers do not accept women who have had previous cesareans, or VBACs—vaginal births after cesareans).

I had a wonderful pregnancy and felt nurtured under midwifery care. I was determined to have an unmedicated VBAC. I asked a lot more questions and educated myself about options. Approaching the time of birth, I felt happy, prepared, and informed.

During my 36-37 weeks prenatal visit, my midwife thought my baby was breech. Again! I could not believe it.

All I could think about was the possibility of being forced into another cesarean section.

I was devastated. I felt frustrated, angry and even resentful toward my baby. Why was this happening to me? I had come to terms with homebirth but, because midwives do not have the jurisdiction to perform breech births (despite the fact that they have the training to do them safely), the choice was being taken away from me. I felt angry and again disempowered.

I determined I could get my little one to turn. I learned about breech tilts, pulsatilla, chiropractic Webster Technique, Craniosacral therapy, walking on hands and knees, laying on an ironing board, even the use of ice packs and headphones on my belly. When all failed, I will never forget what my wise midwife told me, “You don’t always get the birth that you want but the birth that you need. You will just have to plan for the best breech birth possible!” It was with her support that we set out to prepare for a natural breech birth.

My midwife referred me to an obstetrician experienced with vaginal breech. Used to working with midwives, he said he was comfortable with vaginal breech and sharing my care with my midwife. I felt again like circumstances were out of my control, and was afraid of the unknown; it made all the difference to have my familiar and caring midwife with me. I was grateful that they had such a good working relationship, as I benefited from their collegiality.

On October 19, around 8 p.m., labour started as it had with my first, although 12 days after my due date! This time when I felt the dull ache in my back and it wouldn’t go away, I knew it was labour.

Our midwife arrived at our home around midnight and announced I was 5-6 cm dilated. We arrived at the hospital at 2 a.m. and I was 6-7 cm.

I was nervous, and unsure of what to expect, andI found it extremely frustrating when the hospital staff tried to deter me from my decision: pushing a detailed, scary, waiver in my face, pointing out risks involved in a breech delivery. I was told my obstetrician was working, but the staff quickly took over in their roles, and it felt as though they didn’t share the same values as my midwife, obstetrician, or me. Just like last time, the medical staff attempted to scare me into having a cesarean section. But they were not successful because this time I had done my research. I knew that in reality a vaginal breech birth with an experienced caregiver is as safe as a cesarean section, that mortality rates for women significantly increases with cesarean sections, and that cesarean sections increase the risks for subsequent pregnancies.

The dull backache was stronger and I found the hot water of the shower most effective. Since a breech VBAC is considered high risk, I was prepped for a cesarean in case things didn’t go as planned. The constant fetal monitor and IV did not allow me to move freely and were as annoying as the back labour.

By 5 a.m. I was 10 cm dilated. My water broke on its own and I was ready to push. It was exiting! I didn’t know what to expect and in the beginning was not pushing effectively: either because this was my first time pushing or my worries about how I sounded and looked inhibited my body from working as it needed to. There was extra staff in the room voicing their opinions which I found distracting, but was able to focus on my husband and midwife.

It wasn’t until I let go, my instincts taking over, that I felt me and my baby working together; I was squatting on the bed and groaning with all my inner being. I was working with my body allowing it to do what it needed to move my baby down.

As we neared the end of the 2 hr mark, my “time limit” for pushing as a VBAC, my midwife negotiated with the obstetrician to give us 30 min more as I was doing so well. It was close to his shift ending and, although he agreed, he brought in the obstetrician that would be taking over after his shift. As my birth history was reviewed the new obstetrician commented, “She’s already had a cesarean and this baby’s breech, perhaps there is something wrong with your pelvis and you cannot have a vaginal birth”.

I felt the need to prove her wrong. I touched my perineum and felt a little male part, my baby was right there presenting frank breech! I had gotten out of bed and the nurses told me, “Stop pushing. Get on the bed.” Our midwife ran to get our first obstetrician back into the room.

The minutes on my back were the most excruciating and uncomfortable I had ever felt. Eventually, I was told to push continuously without stopping; it is customary to push a breech baby within 7 minutes of seeing their body parts. My midwife was present, and my obstetrician helped deliver my baby. It was very intense, and amazing, holding my son on my chest . Brady James was born at 7:26 a.m., a healthy 8lb 1oz, on October 20, 2008.It was a very healing and empowering experience, and I am thankful for the support from my midwife and obstetrician.

breech vbac

I had nurses ask me the next day why I would try to deliver naturally when I knew the baby was breech. Having gone through both a cesarean section and natural breech delivery—I would take the breech delivery any day!

hospital vbac breech birth

Blake Carter

Fall of 2011, my third pregnancy, I was overjoyed and optimistic that I would get my home water birth.

As my first 2 babies were both breech, we were a lot more aware of the baby’s position. So when our baby was still head up at 33 and then 34 weeks, I started to worry..

For weeks we tried to turn the baby using moxibustion, hypnotherapy and acupuncture, to no avail. I tried to remain optimistic, telling myself baby would turn, and went to bed every night listening to the Hypnobabies script on turning breech babies.

Around 38 weeks I was exhausted—mentally and emotionally— with the realization that nothing was going to work. I was tired of defending my body, the shape of my uterus and my baby. My babies simply preferred to lay breech. I was frustrated and felt a deep sadness giving up my hopes for a home water birth. It felt unfair that some women didn’t appreciate their luck.

breech maternity

I knew I had been through a natural breech delivery before. My midwife reminded me that I could still have a natural breech delivery. Still I had a good cry. It was a real moment of release for me — releasing the negative feelings around what I was giving up. and it I felt as if a huge weight was lifted. I was then able to refocus on having a positive birth experience.

We planned for a natural birth with the same obstetrician that delivered our son. I was better able to communicate what I wanted for this birth— freedom to move. This translated into intermittent monitoring and a hep-lock. I saw both my midwife and obstetrician on a weekly basis.

breech belly

My due date came and went. I really relaxed and enjoyed my last days of pregnancy. It was a lovely state to be in.

This time Braxton Hicks were stronger. I thought I was in labour but then would wake, realizing I was still pregnant. Five days after my due date, contractions were not going away; it was noon. I made the kids lunch, contractions took my breath away. I called my husband at 1 p.m. unsure if it was active labour. When he got home 15 min later it was clear to him it was.

We called our midwife who said she would stop by around 3:30 p.m.. However, I felt really uncomfortable and hopped in the rental birth pool my husband prepared. As my body entered the water I instantly felt relief. I spiraled my hips and visualized this baby moving into a favourable birth position. It felt so good to be in the warm water. I felt in control, easily able to focus on my breathing and to visualize a peaceful and natural birth.

My husband could tell contractions were only a few minutes apart and called our midwife back. When she arrived, around 2:15 p.m., she confirmed that I was in labour and 8 cm dilated. We left for the hospital immediately and arrived by 3 p.m. I confided in my husband that I really did not want to leave the safety of our home and felt apprehensive about going to the hospital. As we checked in my labour completely stopped. I guess it is true your body needs to feel safe before giving birth!

Our obstetrician was in surgery and the resident on duty was very cheerful and suggested, ”Lets break your waters and get things going.” I relayed the information that had been discussed beforehand with my obstetrician—we wanted things to progress on their own naturally, with the hep-lock and intermittent fetal monitoring. I expected to be met with resistance however she was very pleasant. She explained their recommendation, but that it was ultimately our decision.

Now that I was at the hospital, had met the staff, who were on board with our wishes—I started to relax. I could again focus on my labour and meeting our baby. I started walking the halls, taking deep breaths in hopes this would bring the contractions back.

After a few minutes of walking, the contractions came back. I spent the next hour or so between sitting on my birth ball and having my husband rub my back and then in the shower/tub.

I heard the nurses discussing transferring me to the operating room to give birth. I tried not let it distract me but I yearned for the depth, space and privacy of our birth pool at home. It was now 6:30 p.m. . It felt like I was stuck at 9 cm and I was starting to feel an urgency for things to happen. Me and my midwife decided to take 30 min before considering breaking my waters.

A few minutes later my obstetrician came in; it was 6:45 p.m. and he was off duty at 7 p.m. He told us that he was going to stay but would not help deliver our baby if he was off duty. He broke my bag of water and relayed to the other obstetrician that I was still 9 cm dilated and he felt feet rather than a bottom. My baby was a footling breech! Within 10 min of breaking my water I was fully dilated and ready to push, it was 7 p.m.

I was apprehensive of experiencing pain being propped up on the bed, yet this time was different; I was better able to work with my body. With coaching from my midwife and nurse, and after only 17 min of pushing, I gave birth naturally to Blake Carter! I was supported by the obstetrician on duty and a resident as our obstetrician and midwife watched—it was an amazing experience!

breech vaginal birth

breech hospital vbac

The tone in the room was so positive and encouraging with this birth, as opposed to questioning why I would birth a baby breech, as with my second. The obstetrician and resident were great and genuinely interested in my well-being and in being involved with a natural breech delivery.

breech newborn

Having 3 breech babies, with very different birth stories, I have learned so much. With Brooke, I learned that things don’t always go the way we plan and sometimes things happen outside our control. With Brady, I confronted fears from my first birth; I realized that I could have a natural birth in the hospital. It was through Brady’s birth that I healed from my first. With Blake, I was grateful to experience a shift in the medical system in regards to attitudes toward the safety of vaginal breech births.

breech newborn photo

sleepy breech newborn

breech siblings

I hope that my personal birth experiences help to educate others about vaginal breech birth: that breech does not necessarily equal a cesarean; that women can ask for a second opinion or find a caregiver to assist in a natural birth; that women should feel empowered in their birth choices and experience and should trust in their inner strength and natural ability. Natural unmedicated vaginal breech births can be done and can be a wonderfully amazing and beautiful birth experience!

smiley breech newborn

More photos and a birth video can be found at Vanessa Brown Photography

Frank Breech Story {Vaginal Hospital Birth After Induction}

Frank Breech Story {Vaginal Hospital Birth After Induction}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

footling breech hospital birth

Story from Trina, of Moonlight Doula

Double Footling Breech Birth Adventure {Vaginal Hospital Birth}

Double Footling Breech Birth Adventure {Vaginal Hospital Birth}

“I am a chiropractor who specializes in pediatric and pregnancy chiropractic. I am certified in the Webster technique which is a special technique/analysis that helps balance a mom’s pelvic bones and ligaments via a chiropractic adjustment and also helps take stress/torque off of the uterus by finding trigger points on the round ligaments. Not only does it help mom feel and function her best but it helps baby get into the optimal position for childbirth. Ironically, my baby happened to be hanging out happily breech at 39 weeks pregnant.” – Crystal

I had been getting adjusted regularly (almost daily), doing inversions and breech tilts (spinning babies), visualization, ice/heat pack, playing soft music at my pubic bone, etc… BUT my baby boy really was enjoying sitting Indian style/cannon ball in my uterus! My care started off with Alpharetta Women’s Specialists midwife Janet and plans for a North Fulton Hospital waterbith as I had planned with my first son, Alex, who is now 2.5 years. I knew from my first labor and delivery that not all things happen according to the “birth plan” but never did I expect to be full term and not even know who my provider or hospital would be, let alone come to find out at 37.5 weeks that baby boy was not head down.

My midwife, Janet was pregnant and began transferring all her patients due around the holidays (my EDD is 12/23) to another midwife group. Unfortunately ISIS had a midwife whose son had died over Thanksgiving and could not take me, so I was transferred to North Fulton Women’s Specialists. I had one appointment there with the new midwife, Michele, and Dr. Mudugno (whom I saw a couple times at my post-partum checkups from having my first son with Diane Tandy a couple years ago). I was given the option to have an External Cephalic Version performed first thing Monday morning at the hospital in order to get him to turn. I was agreeable to this, seeing as how 1 or 2 out of the 3 OB’s at this new practice were not comfortable doing vaginal breech delivery and I would likely end up with a C section if he wasn’t turned by the time I went into labor.

At the hospital, prior to my ECV, I picked the brains of a nurse that had worked there for a couple decades. I asked if vaginal breech delivery was allowed/ever performed there. She said, not intentionally and hasn’t been done in a very long time. This is when I knew I had to get in with either Dr. Bootstaylor or Dr. Tate ASAP. By the way, the ECV was unsuccessful after two very painful attempts. The Terbutaline Sulfate given to me to relax my uterus, made the rest of my body a nervous wreck. Come to find out that it can cause tremors, tachycardia, palpitations, all of which were happening to me while my baby was getting pushed and pulled in-utero. Not fun! I’m also wondering if I had a mild/moderate allergic reaction because I am allergic to Sulfa drugs. Anyway…

Dr. Tate was booked solid and I couldn’t get an appointment with him until Thursday so I decided to have a consultation with Dr. Bootstaylor Tuesday morning to get his perspective and the diagnostics on this baby’s dimensions via an ultrasound. I was really impressed with all of the midwives at Intown Midwifery and Dr. Bootstaylor when I attended an Intown Midwifery Meet & Greet the prior week. It was confirmed that my baby boy was complete breech, weighing approximately 8.5 pounds based on femur measurement. Dr. Bootstaylor informed me that he will only deliver frank breech (butt presenting first) due to a couple risk factors of cord prolapse, feet coming first, etc. He said we can just wait and see if baby decides to change, I can go into labor spontaneously and then have a c-sect or schedule a c-sect for after 39 weeks. I knew I still had to talk with Dr. Tate and Thursday couldn’t come soon enough.

At my first appointment with Dr. Tate I loved the fact that he took the time (3 hours) to share with me all of the pros/cons of breech vaginal birth. He gave the most thorough informed consent that I have ever experienced and had me sign a few forms about what we discussed. Not too many doctors are willing to take the time to explain the risks, side effects, benefits and alternatives in this much detail. It was so important to me that I got all of the facts to make an informed confident decision. He did a head/body ratio analysis of the baby and my score was a 0.91. He said he is willing to deliver breech vaginally since anything under a 1.1 is ideal for this scenario. I was so relieved to hear this. This meant my baby’s abdomen was the same size or even slightly larger than his head at this point. So during a breech delivery if I am able to push out the butt/body/abdomen then I should have no problem pushing out his head, avoiding one of the risks of breech vaginal delivery, head entrapment. He also stated I had a “proven pelvis” which means I have pushed out an 8.8 pound baby with no complications in the past. My “homework” was lots of walking, sex and nipple stimulation! Sounds like work at 39 weeks pregnant! Lol!

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Given my options and the probability of success for vaginal breech delivery I chose to go into labor spontaneously. My baby boy was in the complete breech presentation (he was basically sitting cannon ball/Indian style) at the appointment with Dr. Tate. I promised to call when either my water broke or my contractions are at 6-8 minutes apart every hour. I continued to get adjusted because, regardless if the baby turns or not, chiropractic care helps the body function at its best which I need for an optimal delivery!

12/17/12 7:25 AM Woken up from sleep by a contraction. I felt another about 5 minutes later. I began using the contraction timer I had downloaded on my iPhone the night before. Ironic that I felt the need to go out with my fiancé and 2 year old son as our last meal for a family of 3 the night before! I even took my 39 week pic in front of our Christmas tree and wrote this jingle/caption, “My Christmas Jingle: All dressed up and nowhere to go! It’s raining outside and I wish it were snow. 39 weeks pregnant and 1 to go? Alex is excited to meet his little brother and Santa Claus. Ho ho ho!”

After about 30 minutes of the contractions I realized they were consistently 5-7 minutes apart and I got in touch with my doula and my parents, letting them know what was going on. Since my first son’s labor was over 27 hours I thought I had plenty of time to labor through this first phase in the comfort of my home. My 2.5 year old son and fiancé were sound asleep in bed. I got up and began finishing up the laundry, packing the rest of the hospital bags, getting breakfast ready for my son and his overnight bags packed for the friend of ours that would pick him up from daycare. In this amount of time (2 hours or so) I was able to observe my contractions lasting about 50 seconds, every 5 minutes, consistently. My fiancé woke around 9 and I called Dr. Tate’s office at 9:30 to tell them my progress. I was surprised when they told me to go in to the hospital as soon as possible. I decided I would take a shower and shave my legs before I woke up my son to get him ready for daycare. I hardly felt the contractions in the shower so I extended my stay in there but once I got out, contractions hit me so hard that I began sweating through them, dropped to my hands and knees during them and had to recruit my fiancé for sacral counterpressure to alleviate the intensity. My son woke up worrying about mommy, grabbed mommy’s hand and said “I help you, mommy. I help you.” So sweet! I realized my contractions were getting more serious and productive when my son asked me to read him a book and I couldn’t read 3 words in a row because of the pressure and intensity. It was time to get gone! Lol! After I started saying, “Dear God, help us all.” (My mantra during Alex’s labor/delivery!) My fiance also started realizing we needed to have been on the road a while ago.

We made it out of the house around 10:40 and to my son’s daycare at 10:50… it was a quick drop and run because I was already feeling pressure in the birth canal. I remember my fiancé asking if we should just go to the hospital without dropping our son off at school. I was thinking, “Yes”, but my mind knew that he would probably have missed the birth due to our son not being able to be in the L&D room or just trying to get a toddler to cooperate in such a rushed scenario, so I screamed “Drop him…FASSSST!” As we approached Alex’s school, he began singing, “ Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday mommy, daddy, Robi! Happy Birthday to you!”. Kids are so intuitive! He knew how to make mommy feel better!

We had about 15 minutes to go to get to Emory University Midtown Hospital in the heart of Atlanta…Thank God it wasn’t rush hour, because it took us 25 plus minutes with the traffic we did encounter… and that was with Xavier running 2 red lights in midtown. I was so impressed and surprised by how calm Xavier was during this process. He is typically a type A, almost OCD personality that is very impatient. He showed a lot of calmness during this process which I definitely needed at this stage. It was 11:08, we were on 85 South and my water broke. I began to panic a little. I called my doula and had her call Dr. Tate. Xavier assured me “Just because your water broke doesn’t mean you are having the baby soon/now.” My body was telling me something else. I felt my baby boy slip into the birth canal almost immediately afterward. This whole time I was in the back passenger seat of our SUV, squatting on the floorspace hugging the back of the passenger seat with my head on Xavier’s shoulder, saying “Dear God, help us all!” Visual: I’m 6 feet tall and very athletic build. I don’t fit very well in a floor space of a car. You should have seen the pedestrians and other cars looking in at what the heck was going on in our car? Was that lady shot or something? Haha! Comic relief in between intense urges to push, and I think I did… twice.

11:16 Emory Hospital front entrance is a chaotic traffic jam of Marta buses and backed up valet service… 200 yards to the doors…! I could reach down and feel baby parts coming out of me and was going into shock not knowing if it was feet/arms/cord because it definitely was not a butt or a head! I needed someone to come and sweep me up and fly me to the moon, or at least the labor and delivery room! Not an option. Xavier yelled at a police officer directing the chaos that there was a woman in labor and to take the car…

We both got out and walked about 50 yards… I stole someone’s wheelchair and yelled… “Labor and Delivery… he’s coming out… NOWWWW!” The lady pushing the wheelchair was going about as slow as she could go in the hustling lobby while onlookers are yelling, “She’s in labor!” I decided she needed to see the severity of the situation so I outstretched the waistband of my yoga pants and she and I could see his feet/legs. After 2 other passengers in the elevator got a birds eye view of a woman with 4 legs, they will never again be the same!

“Stand back everyone!” The wheelchair pusher screamed. “ Here we come. Sir, get that door. And that one.” As she is racing me sitting sideways in the wheelchair to the labor and delivery room on the 3rd floor.” The registration desk is trying to flag us down and get us to register! Really?! We pulled up to the first L&D Room and there he was, the angel of a Dr. that was off-duty but ready and willing to take on this delivery. A L&D nurse pulled out my waistband and said, we’ve got a baby coming out and it’s not a head! A nurse/doctor on each appendage hoisted my petite delicate (haha!) self up on the bed and ripped my pants off…

Dr. Horton did a couple maneuvers with the baby’s arm which was giving him a high five already inside the womb. I had already pushed my baby boy out up to his thighs upon arriving. Dr. Horton had to adjust baby boy’s arm and flex his head forward by some maneuver that I was definitely not expecting!

3 minutes after arriving at the hospital front doors, “I need you to PUSH!” fell on deaf ears in shock from my last 15 minutes of labor. Everyone in the room came together to encourage me, “PUSH Crystal!” and with one room-shattering, bone shaking scream… his head was out and baby Robi Xavier was born at 11:20AM, a strong and healthy 8.7lb, 20 inches long!

I was in shock and in love! I couldn’t believe how fast I had progressed, that I got to have a vaginal breech “Footling?!!!” delivery and that it all felt so efficient and natural and safe! That God really was watching over us, since Dr. Tate didn’t get notice in time, Dr. Horton was the next most experienced vaginal breech delivery doctor and he was almost “waiting” for me outside that room at that time (even though he was technically off-call and getting ready to go home for the day). So many OB’s may have pushed the panic button due to lack of experience, etc… but he was so calm and relaxed and ready.

The unmedicated labor and birth was night and day from my first labor and delivery and my son was wide awake and alert and nursed 3 times from birth to my post-partum room. I felt awesome and ready to leave an hour after delivering. The only weird side-effect was that my legs would not stop shaking like I was freezing cold, and it lasted a good hour, until after I delivered the placenta. They said this is a common effect from the effort of pushing out the baby. The most painful part of my experience was uterine contractions after delivery. When my son nursed, it would send shock like sensations down the inside of my thighs and legs and I got very nauseous several times.

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This had to be one of the most adrenaline packed births ever! I’m sorry Dr. Tate was not able to participate due to my fast transition and regret that his OB residents didn’t have the chance to observe another fantastic breech vaginal delivery with him. But I feel grateful for Dr. Horton and blessed that he was calm and cool and had been trained in vaginal breech delivery. I feel grateful for Dr. Tate and his willingness to take on VBAC’s and breech vaginal birth with such confidence in himself but more importantly in the woman’s ability to birth naturally.

So, in my quest to avoid a c-section I met some wonderful providers, toured 3 different hospitals, and finally found the information, peace and clarity that I needed to make a confident decision to have a vaginal breech birth. If not for the experience of Dr. Tate with this and the gentle guidance and time that he took to give me all of the information I needed, I would have spent my last week of pregnancy worried about an eminent c-section rather than focusing on the possibility of a beautiful natural birth. C-section could be the end result any time in birth, but I would hope it is only in case of an emergency. If my body is capable of handling the labor and delivery of my child no matter his presentation, I am ecstatic that I found a provider who is comfortable with that and respects the body’s ability to birth! We are blessed to have a healthy and strong baby boy and happy, healthy and unmedicated mama mia! Robi Xavier is nursing like a pro already and has gained a pound and a half and an inch and a half all in his first week and a half! We are so blessed.

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Crystal owns C’hi Chiropractic in Atlanta

 

Birth Without Fear Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of All Time

Birth Without Fear Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of All Time

Birth Without Fear is three years old today! To commemorate this special occasion we compiled links to the Top 10 most popular blog posts of all time here on the Birth Without Fear Blog. So without further ado…

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

“…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…”

9. Beautiful and Inspiring Pregnancy and Birth Pictures

“…We are strong. We are beautiful. We are inspiring. We are empowered…”

8. Face Presentation Vaginal Birth

“…Not only did she have a successful VBAC in the hospital, but her daughter was birthed with a face presentation (yes, her face was birthed first) weighing 8 lbs 1 oz…”

7. Estimated Due Dates

“…I think most of you know not all women have the same length cycles and ovulate on the same exact day in that uniform cycle. Also, not all women gestate the same, nor babies grow the exact same rate…”

6. More Birth, Breastfeeding and Placenta Pictures Removed From Facebook

“…Sometimes I see a picture that is removed from a social media site, like Facebook, and I understand why. Even if I don’t find it disturbing, I can appreciate how it might be too graphic…”uniquenessquote

5. A License to Rape

“…Rape? A doctor? A midwife? Yes. Birth Rape to be more exact. I remember the first time I read about birth rape…”

4. One Extraordinary Birth (Six Days of Labor, 33 Hours between Births, Two Healthy Babies)

“…It wasn’t that I set out to be an enthusiastic proponent of homebirth. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t thought much about what kind of a birth experience I would like to have until I got pregnant…”

3. The Circumcision Decision

“…When I began to make plans for the birth itself, I thought about what would happen on the day of his birth, and circumcision crossed my mind…”

2. The Post Partum Baby Bump: The Truth Revealed with Pictures

“…We are women, we are amazing, beautiful, strong and create miracles! Yet, we are incredibly hard on ourselves…”

1. Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

“…At my ultrasound appointment and 36 weeks pregnant, I was not shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Yep, she is breech.” I was not surprised, but I was devastated. This was not something I was educated about or prepared for…”

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