the following is a birth story contributed by one of our readers. Heidi has three children, and all three of them were breech. Each child had a very unique birth, and Heidi has graciously shared all three of them with us. This is the story of her third birth.
When I became pregnant for a third time in the fall of 2011, I was overjoyed & optimistically hopeful that I would get my waterbirth at home – - I had a successful breech VBAC last time around & had learned so much from my previous births. I called our midwife & was excited to be seeing her again; I looked forward to our monthly and then weekly visits & even my other 2 (who were now 3 & 5) could not wait until the next visit when they would get to help listen to the baby’s heartbeat.
Again, I had a great pregnancy feeling really good & so in love with my growing belly. I rented a birth pool & it seemed as though everything was falling into place. As my first 2 were both breech, we were a lot more aware of the baby’s position this time around. But really, what are the chances that this little one would be breech as well? So when baby was still head up at 33 & then 34 weeks, I started to worry. Everyone kept telling me I had lots of time for baby to turn. My midwife also reassured me that most babies will be head down between 30-35 weeks & not to think about it too much but that we could be proactive in trying to get the baby to turn sooner rather than later. But having gone through this before I knew better.
Again, weeks of doing everything I had previously & more; I tried moxibustion, hypnotherapy & acupuncture this time round (among all the others I had done before). The weeks went on and baby was still breech. I tried so hard to remain optimistic & kept telling myself that baby would turn, I did not return the birth pool, and I went to bed every night listening to the hypnobabies script on turning breech babies & visualized a home birth with baby head down. At around 38 weeks I was exhausted – not from the pregnancy but mentally & emotionally exhausted with the realization that nothing was going to work. I was tired of defending my body, the shape of my uterus & my baby. There was physically no reason for my babies to be breech, for whatever reason they just prefer to be this way. I was frustrated & felt a deep sadness as I had to give up my hopes for a waterbirth at home. I wanted a natural homebirth more than anything & it wasn’t fair that there are women out there that do not really even care about having a natural birth yet they take that choice for granted.
I know I had been through a natural breech delivery before and my midwife reminded me that natural vaginal birth is what I wanted & I could still have this – even if it meant going to the hospital and having another breech delivery. It was at this point that I had a good cry, I think it was a real moment of release for me – to let go of the negative feelings around what I was giving up & it felt as if a huge weight was lifted. I was then able to refocus on having a positive birth experience – as I did have a lot of things to be thankful for & to look forward to.
So back to the same OB that delivered my son & again we made plans for the best natural breech delivery we could have. This time around I was better able to communicate what I wanted for this birth – I wanted freedom to move while labouring; this translated into intermittent monitoring and a hep lock. I was still seeing my midwife weekly but also added a weekly visit to the OB to check in and see which hospital he would be at over the next week. My due date came and went which really wasn’t a big surprise as I went overdue previously. I joked with my midwife that I felt like either the birth would happen so quickly that we would have the baby at home or that we would get to the hospital and the baby would have turned.
I was really able to relax and enjoy my last few days of pregnancy as I looked forward to meeting this little one. I fully expected labour to start as it had with the previous 2 – - a dull backache that would not go away & going into labour in the middle of the night. The Braxton Hicks were a lot stronger this time around and there were a couple times when I thought that this might be the real thing but as I went to bed each night I would wake the next morning and my day would go on as it had before. So it came somewhat as a surprise when 5 days after my due date, the regular Braxton Hicks that I was having were not going away & it was only noon. I made the kids lunch and had to sit down a couple times as the contractions sort of took my breath away. I called my husband at 1pm to relay the information although I still wasn’t sure if it was false or real labour. When he got home 15 minutes later it was clear to him that I was in real labour.
We called our midwife and she still figured we had some time and would stop by around 3:30pm to check in. I felt really uncomfortable and felt a strong urge to be in the water. I hopped in the hot tub and as my body entered the water I instantly felt relief. I was spiraling my hips in the water and visualizing baby #3 moving into a favourable birth position. As my husband kept checking on me he could tell from my expressions that the contractions were not 10 minutes apart but only a few. He called our midwife back and she immediately was on her way to our place. Before she even reached our house, she had instructed my husband to get me out of the hot tub so I could be checked as soon as she got to the house. The last thing I wanted to do was get out of the water, it felt so good and I was really able to focus on my breathing and visualize a peaceful & natural birth.
As I came into the house, our midwife had just arrived & it was confirmed that I was in labour & 8cms; we needed to go the hospital now! She told my husband to pull over if my water broke en route. On the way there, I was almost in tears as I confided in my husband that I really did not want to leave the safety of our home & felt really apprehensive about going to the hospital. I was scared. It was a different hospital than either my daughter or son were born at – however this is where the OB that I was seeing was today, and I knew that the best chance I had of having a natural birth was in his care.
We arrived at the hospital just after 3pm. As we checked in and headed to our room with the nurse assigned to us, my labour completely stopped. It was almost comical how the nurses asked if we were sure I was in labour as I was far from the intense contractions I was feeling when we left the house. I guess its true that your body needs to feel safe before giving birth! The OB that we had come to see was in surgery and the resident on duty was very cheerful as she introduced herself and suggested that we “break your waters and get things going” . I relayed the information that had been discussed beforehand with the OB – that we wanted things to progress on their own naturally, and also about the heplock & intermittent fetal monitoring. I expected to be met with resistance however she was very pleasant as she explained what they recommend but it was ultimately our decision. Some of the stress & apprehension started to go away.
I got up and started walking the halls. I tried to take deep breaths and relax in hopes that this would bring the contractions back. Now that I was at the hospital and had met our nurse and the staff & they were on board with our wishes, I started to relax and refocus on my labour & meeting our baby. After a few minutes of walking, the contractions came back & again it was clear that I was in fact in labour. I spent the next hour or so between sitting on my birth ball having my husband rub my back and then in the shower/tub. I yearned for the depth and space of our tub or hot tub at home. The water helped to ease my discomfort however I felt like I couldn’t get comfortable because of the small size of the tub. I could also hear talk between the nurses about them wanting to transfer me to the OR to deliver. I tried not to think about it or let it distract me and am thankful that my midwife was there to talk to them & buy me more time. We were nearing the 2 hour mark and I was beginning to wonder why my water hadn’t broke. It felt like I was stuck at 9cm & I was starting to feel an urgency for things to happen. I spoke with my midwife and decided to try for another 30 minutes but at that point I would consider having my water broken.
It was only a few minutes later that the OB I had been seeing came in, it was 6:45pm and he was off duty at 7pm. He had talked to the OB on call and she was a younger doctor but was on board with delivering a breech baby. I was so relieved! It is the strangest feeling but I felt really safe & comfortable with the OB there – deep down I just knew that if he was there things would be okay. We asked him to break my water before he was off & he did tell us that even though he was off duty he was going to stay but that he couldn’t deliver our baby. As he broke the waters he told the OB coming in that I was still at 9cm & that he felt feet – this baby was a footling breech! Within 10 minutes of breaking my water I was fully dilated and ready to push, it was 7pm….it had been so uncomfortable last time when I was propped up on the bed yet this time was different. As the nurse & my midwife supported me on both sides and coached me through the breathing – chin to chest & 10 seconds at a time, I was better able to work with my body this time.
After only 17 min of pushing, I gave birth naturally to our 2nd son, Blake Carter who decided to enter the world feet first this time! He was delivered by the OB on duty and a resident as our OB watched – it was an amazing experience! The tone in the room was also so different this time as the staff were so positive about the breech birth and it was an atmosphere of “way to go, that was amazing – you did it” as opposed to “why would you try and do that” as with my 2nd. The OB & resident were great & genuinely interested in my wellbeing & in being involved with a natural breech delivery.
Having gone through 3 pregnancies with 3 breech babies & 3 very different birth stories/outcomes – I have learned so much. With our first – Brooke Elizabeth -an undiagnosed breech that resulted in a C-section – I learned that things don’t always go the way we plan them & that sometimes things happen outside of our control. With our second, a natural breech VBAC – Brady James, I had to confront the fears & overcome the hurdles that I had experienced the first time with a cesarean birth. I realized that I could have a natural birth in the hospital. It was through Brady’s birth that I was able to heal from the trauma of Brooke’s birth. With my most recent birth, my footling breech (again natural) Blake Carter – I feel like there has been a welcome shift in the medical system in regards to breech birth. I hope that my personal birth experiences help to educate others about natural breech birth; that breech babies do not necessarily equal a C-section & that women have the ability to ask for a second opinion or find a caregiver that will assist in a natural birth; that women should feel empowered in their birth choices/experience & should trust in their inner strength and natural ability. Natural breech birth can be done & can be a wonderfully amazing & beautiful birth experience!!