Are there not enough willing and educated providers? Breech Birth is just another variation of normal, and if not for this provider my client would never have been “allowed” to deliver vaginally and would have been cut open the moment she transferred to the hospital….
My pregnancy was smooth, and I planned a home birth from the start. A 34 week sonogram showed a breech baby. While I knew he still had time to turn – I immediately started researching all things breech and began noninvasive actions to encourage him to turn: Moxibustion, saw a chiropractor, used Spinning Babies techniques, but nothing. Something in my gut felt that he wasn’t meant to turn. I trusted my baby and my body, feeling that if he didn’t turn there must be a reason. So I began researching and preparing myself mentally to birth a breech baby. I researched breech birth in other countries, read through materials from Breech Without Borders, watched videos of vaginal breech deliveries. I familiarized myself with the cardinal movements of a frank breech delivery and took note of how successful breech births happened – up on the knees!
I felt prepared and confident that I could birth my boy the way he wanted, provided no other red flags presented. I was at peace with what was coming.
At 38 weeks my chiro suggested attempting an ECV out of concern that a breech birth for a first time mom would be difficult. I didn’t want an ECV, but her fear had gotten to me and I contacted a doctor they suggested with my midwife’s approval. The procedure was unsuccessful. I had consented to an IV, an epidural, a catheter, and was in the exact environment I had feared and wanted to avoid.
But far worse was the fear mongering that came while I was recovering. The doctor tried to talk me into a scheduled c-section within days – I was only 38+4! Then the nurse began discussing my not-a-proven-pelvis, head entrapment, and describing risks that I knew were blown out of proportion. With my mother in the room the nurse urged me to at least give birth in the hospital if I was insisting on a vaginal delivery, and gave me the name of ONE doctor who she said might help me. I’ll call her Dr. B. I went home devastated and cried endlessly that night.
I jumped through hoops that week to see this Dr. B desperate for a third opinion, questioning my own sanity. Miraculously she saw me at 39+1. After checking my records she confirmed I would be a good candidate for a VBB. She would be happy to help me, except there was no way she could guarantee that she would be at the hospital and available when I went into labor. So she recommended I stick with my midwife and supportive team at home.
Thursday at 40+1 my water broke about 9 am after resting in bed with, cuddled up, happy, blissful, and resting. I tried to keep the day as normal as possible and messaged my midwife to confirm that it was my water and not more of a mucus plug. Chris came home from work just before lunch. Mild contractions happened sporadically all day, but never took off.
That night things picked up some, but contractions never got strong enough or consistent enough for me to make progress. At 6:45am I had my first cervical check, only 1cm, with a firm cervix. At that point my midwife advised to transfer because I was approaching 24 hours from the time my water broke, without significant progress. She suggested antibiotics to prevent infection, which I agreed to. As soon as I surrendered to that path my contractions took off! An hour later, before we left for the hospital I asked for another check, 2cm, and a softened cervix!
Once we got to the hospital and checked in, I agreed to an IV for the antibiotics and epidural, such that in the event I had a CS I wanted to be awake. By 9am I was 4cm at the first hospital check! The first doctor to see me was still adamant about a CS for my breech, and tried to fear monger as well, but this time I was ready for it. I asked to check if Dr. B was available, hoping for support and to avoid surgery. To our surprise, Dr. B walked in 30 minutes later and it was like seeing an angel.
We were ready to have a baby! I labored with a mild epidural through the afternoon, my midwife and doula helping me change position frequently. Sometime around 5:30 I was at a 9, and fully dilated by 6. Dr. B had me start pushing in the L&D room to get baby’s bottom down further.
I let my epidural wear off a bit so I would be able to get up on my knees to push. As the pressure began to get intense it was time to transfer to the OR. Hospital policy required me to deliver in the OR in case of emergency. My midwife warned me as we wheeled down that there would be a lot of extra people in the room to observe, as a VBB is now a rare occurrence. There were more nurses in that bright room than I could count, and 2 doctors. It all faded away as I got up and started pushing.
Dr. B called out everything she was seeing, as baby began descending and rumping. Hearing that he was making all the breech cardinal movements was reassuring. Birthing his legs and torso was intense with immediate relief as his legs dropped. From rumping to being completely out was just over 7 minutes. Baby was passed up between my legs, and breathing like a champ, but with a very short cord. I immediately knew this had kept him from turning. The cord clamping, cleaning, and all the things immediately after birth felt so fast (maybe a little aggressive) but I wasn’t in a mental place to argue too much. While the nurses assessed my baby I was able to turn over and deliver my placenta, which came easily in one push. I was wheeled back to my L&D room, and dad took over skin to skin while I cleaned up.
Moral of the story: ask questions, do your homework and get educated. If you’re not comfortable just scheduling a CS because it’s your OB’s preference then find a second or even third opinion! Know what is a variation of normal, and what necessitates a medical C-section. Mostly, listen to your gut and do what feels right for you! It might be a CS or a VBB – but the choice should be yours.