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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A (surprise!) breech birth story

A few months ago, I posted a breech birth link on FaceBook for my non-birthy friends and was very surprised at the answers: many of them were born breech, knew someone who was, and one even had twin siblings both delivered breech. Many made jokes about their choice of presentation coming into the world, but by and large, they all considered it a totally normal, if not slightly old-school way to be born, and something to be proud of. Some seemed completely surprised that nowadays, cesarean section is usually the general rule of thumb (at least in the United States).

So when I saw that one of my readers had a breech vaginal birth, I got excited! Having two breech-presenting babies myself, I wanted to hear how it went and have been dying to post her story. Farrah has her own blog here, but has graciously offered to let me borrow her story so you'll see it here, too!
One of the topics I have hoped to touch on in my blog is natural childbirth. Most people are amazed at the birth story of my youngest child who is now 14 months old.

People thought that Joe and I were crazy when we conceived our third child when our daughter was just a few months old. Maybe we were. I don't know, but I do know it felt right (and still does). From the beginning, we had tossed around the idea of a home birth, but I went back and forth about it my entire pregnancy. 

Fast forward to my 39th and most miserable week of pregnancy. I went to visit my midwife, to find out that my baby was breech. Of course, the medical standard is that breech equals an automatic c-section. I wasn't just going to give in and accept that. I told her that I was still a few days away from my due date and I felt that I could give him a chance to turn. She offered some suggestions such as inversion. I decided to visit a chiropractor who specialized in the Webster Technique, which is known to help breech babies flip. I also used techniques from Spinning Babies.

After some belly mapping and a medical opinion, we were convinced that the baby was now head down. I decided against any sort of medical induction and decided that I would go into labor on my own at home. My labor started at approximately 8pm and my water broke by the early morning. Now I was induced twice in the past (once for true medical reasons and the other was an elective induction), so maybe that is the reason I'm used to my babies coming out within 15 minutes of my water breaking. That didn't happen this time. I can't say that I was intending on staying home through the whole thing, but I froze up in the midst of active labor from lovely vomiting and pain that I just couldn't communicate that it was time to go to the hospital. 

I remember wanting to push and there was vernix and meconium coming out. It dawned on me that the baby had flipped BACK to breech. And I thought what a stubborn child this would be (and he is). We called the paramedics and I needed to push in the ambulance, but they kept wanting me to hold him in. To this day, I still find that ridiculous. It did cause problems because he needed to come out and needed oxygen after he was born. 

My breech baby was 8lb 15oz and was 21.5 inches long. It was just about as painful as a pitocin induced birth (I've never had a epidural). But it is an experience that made me stronger. I do hope to see more childbirth professionals educate themselves on the "hands off" breech technique and realize that breech babies CAN be born vaginally. I don't know if the United States is starting to change (I doubt it), but I know that in Canada, they have said that mothers should be allowed to try to birth a breech baby vaginally instead of automatically doing a c-section.
Farrah did say the birth was pretty painful; she could feel contractions going all the way down her legs and was "seeing stars." I am in awe of her intuition to head to the hospital when she felt the pushing phase was taking too long, and realized that yes, her baby was breech! She said that on the way to the hospital, medical staff was alerted to her baby's position and quickly "read up" on how to deliver a breechling. She said, though, that "within 20 minutes of arriving at the hospital, I was pushing him out." Wow!

Despite needing oxygen shortly after his birth, she says that her little boy nursed like a champ and was very healthy. "He's an amazing, content, breastfed, and intact baby boy. I love him very much and his birth was a very healing experience for me."

More reading:
Keep Your Hands Off The Breech, by Mary Cronk, MBE
No more automatic c-section for breech births, says OB/GYN Society