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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

Breech Birth Story {Frank Breech}

Breech Birth Story {Frank Breech}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

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

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

I was 24 years old and planning to have my first baby at home when I found out the baby was in a frank breech position. My wonderful midwife at the time obtained all the latest medical journals on breech birth so we could make an informed decision about the risks. After reading the data, we chose to go with a home waterbirth as the journal articles concluded that vaginal breech birth had a lower mortality rate for mother and baby than caesarean.

My waters broke and contractions started straight away. Unfortunately, since the baby’s bottom is a pretty poor dilator of the cervix, it was three and half days later that she was born (with 5 minutes contractions the whole way through).

I did not sleep during the entire labour and was exhausted by the end of it.  I stayed calm and focused during the labour and had minimal monitoring by the midwife, as I had requested.

The bottom crowning


Eventually, the bottom was born and the legs followed. Both of my daughter’s arms were behind her head and my midwife skilfully brought them down alongside her body before the body was out. The body was born under water.

The body out (the cord was around her neck twice).


I knew I had a little girl at this point but her head was yet to be born. I also knew we were at the ‘three minute critical phase’ – she had to come out within three minutes as the placenta usually detaches once the body is born. I had no contractions at this point, was exhausted, but pushed for all I was worth anyway. The midwife inserted her little finger into my daughter’s mouth and lifted the body while I pushed and she was born – with the placenta on her head!


Sofia was born 5 pound, 10 ounces – one week overdue. Although she was blue, she was perfectly fine.  She had a large bruise that covered one entire buttock (the presenting part) and I was a bit black and blue myself, but I had NO tears or episiotomy.

I did, however, have an incredibly supportive birth team including the tireless support of my wonderful husband.


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

Amazing Breech VBAC {Fast hospital birth with pictures}

Amazing Breech VBAC {Fast hospital birth with pictures}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

australian hospital breech vbac

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

first breastfeed

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

newborn breech birth

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

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

newborn breech vbac

newborn hospital breech vbac

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.

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