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

A short history of my previous births:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Ahmie

    I am also expecting my 4th, though all of mine have been head-down births (and only the 1st not at home). I was a surprise vaginal breech birth in 1976. You were incredibly lucky to have a team that supported you in birthing vaginally. I wish you all the best in achieving a homebirth for your 4th if that is your desire. I can’t recommend waterbirth enough. And now my 2nd son is screaming about something my 1st did so have to go!!!

    • Christina

      Thank you, I feel incredibly blessed with how it all played it.
      How blessed was your mother to have given birth to you vaginally as well!

  • Christina

    Hi all, this is my story. Thanks for reading! Just wanted to update you all, I had my fourth April 29th at home, and it was amazing!!! maybe I’ll get January to post that one too. Lol

  • Lucy

    Thanks so much for sharing! I just (7 months ago) had my son footling breech in the OR. I narrowly escaped a Csection – pushing on that skinny table is ridiculous! Anyway, he is fine. No trips to the NICU, but I was waiting for that first cry too. Your story made me cry and it’s a relief to hear other amazing, breech vaginal birth stories. If we have a #3, I would plan for a home birth. Thank you!

    • Christina

      wow, that is amazing that you had a vaginal footling!! Congrats! You are right that the narrow table and pushing is rediculous! GL if/when you decide on #3

  • Kate

    I LOVE this photo! It’s so incredible! Wonderful story. Question- how long did it take for her legs to not be in that breech position? I can see in the photo her legs are still pretty much by her head. Did that cause any problems or did she “stretch out” after a while?

  • caitlyn

    Beautiful story! Congrats on both your breech baby and your home birth baby! I’m a student midwife and my first observation was to a surprise breech birth at home. Such a privilege to be witness to!

  • mamato6

    Love this story and the picture of her holding her baby’s hand…so so sweet.
    My daughter was a surprise breech home birth. It all went very well.

  • Melissa

    I was born vaginally breech in 1979!
    It was a precipitous birth and they really didn’t have any choice as I was “rumping” when she arrived!

    I have been a birth doula for 8.5 years and had the awesome experience of photographing a SURPRISE breech home birth a fewest months ago!!

  • Danielle

    Amazing story! What a great photo to have and you’re so strong to keep your wits at a moment like that to reach down and hold your babies hand.

  • Michelle

    I had a vaginal breech birth 13 months ago (my second birth). I was pretty sure they were kidding about delivering on that OR table. Ha! And I remember screaming after every push “IS SHE OK!? SOMEONE TELL ME SHE’S OK!” because I was panicked that I had made the wrong decision and I was going to suffocate her or something. We had little support in our decision-in fact, we didn’t really discuss it with others because most people thought I was stupid for “putting my baby at risk.” I only got to deliver vaginally because I refused to sign the papers and was wailing and begging my OB to find a “veteran” who had some experience delivering breech and she is a wonderful woman, so she did! In the end, it ended up being the most “normal” thing I could imagine. (well, except those darn table and stirrups…but I was willing to play along with that after refusing to let anyone even some near me with a consent form…lol) I love reading SO MANY other breech birth stories…I knew I wasn’t “stupid” 🙂

  • Michelle

    Oh, and I love the picture of your peanut with her feet by her face! My oldest daughter said “hey, that baby lays like sissy!” lol…Even though her hips are fine, it was forever before she stopped springing back into this position every time we unswaddled her. haha! She still sometimes sits up in bed and then leans over and puts her head between her feet and goes back to sleep! My MIL says “that looks so uncomfortable, that can’t be good for her!” But I think it’s her happy place 🙂

  • brooke

    Wow!!you are amazing..a real inspiration!congratulations on baby no.4 as well!
    You certainly are blessed..sending you many well wishes

  • Ashley

    Yay, mama. This story is so similar to mine, except he was my first and he was only 6lb 12oz. She’s so precious and I agree, I hope this time around goes a little smoother even though I have to be in the hospital.

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