Positive Birth Story; first time mum, Frank breech, planned breech birth in hospital.
I’m 33 and this was my first baby who I had originally planned to have at home. The only thing that had cropped up during pregnancy was a single umbilical artery, which was interesting, but had no impact on my daughter and was not specifically related to her being breech. However my mum was breech (footling homebirth, and I was born prematurely by c-section, so who knows could be something that runs in my family).
She was breech at the 28 week growth scan but I was not at all concerned and assumed she would turn. After that, my midwife had done a check on position and felt she was head down, another homebirth midwife also checked and agreed…. (A sneak my daughter!) However at the 36 week growth scan she was definitely bum down. I panicked an did all the things, acupuncture, moxibustion, spinning babies, handstands in the pool ? and agreed to an ECV at 37 weeks but was unsure if I wanted it. She didn’t turn by my ECV date and was still Frank breech and so to try and keep homebirth as an option, I had the ECV (and as an aside I would say to other ladies out there, I know easier said than done, but I wish I hadn’t let the turning activities and worry consume my last week’s pregnancy, so do them, but don’t beat yourself up with them).
I found the ECV painful but completely bearable. They tried twice without success and then almost immediately it felt, tried to push a C-section at 39 weeks. My trust (Homerton) will do VBB but they didn’t want to with a first time mum. I asked for info from the senior midwife and consultant, but also said I wouldn’t be making a decision that day (they really wanted to sign me up so be clear and take pressure off ?). After a chat with my homebirth midwife, she explained that she wouldn’t feel 100% comfortable doing a homebirth but encouraged me to push for VBB in hospital if that’s what I wanted.
I had a few horrible days of stress trying to decide what to do. In the end, I decided to schedule a section for my due date (arbitrary I know but it gave me peace to have an end to the worry) and then if she came in the meantime I’d “see how it went”…
My waters broke at 4am at exactly 39 weeks. No contractions, but I called the hospital and they suggested I came in just to check all well. Upon arrival I had a VE, I was 2cm and the midwife said she thought she was head down, but scan confirmed she was still breech (told you, my daughter was very sneaky). I was offered a section but declined and asked to see how labour progressed. I was told that if everything progressed “smoothly” and baby’s heart rate was normal then it indicated that the breech birth would proceed well. I was also told I had 24 hours to progress due to water being broken. It was very interesting, as I faced a lot of push back on having a VBB as a first time mum, but as soon as I said I wanted a “trial of labour” aka give it a go, I noticed everyone kind of felt a bit excited. I had asked if the team on were confident with a breech birth and was assured they were.
At this stage (around 9am) I was still not experiencing any strong contractions, though maybe slight twinges. I had thought about going home (I’m only 5 minutes away by car) which they didn’t want, but a senior midwife secretly told me I could do what I wanted and if I wanted to go home I could (remember you are not a prisoner!). They also wanted to put in a canula at this stage but I declined as it seemed uneccesary and I knew I wouldn’t want to labour with one in my hand, so remember you can say no. Husband and I went on a long walk for ice cream, and by 12 midday I was feeling them and by 2pm I was moved to private room as I was 7cm and in active labour.
I was introduced to my birth team, which was quite large and included two midwives, a student (I didn’t mind – better to train more in breech), consultants, anaesthetist, baby specialists, talked through risks and how we would proceed. I already knew my Trust would decline me using a birth pool (apparently so as not to slow labour and then during birth so they could see) and would prefer me to labour upright / on all fours, ideally on a bed. Happy.
I was very active, moved around walking a lot and had terrible back pains so used the shower and counter pressure. At this stage I also agreed to a canula in case of emergency (it was hard to get it in with contractions happening I’ll admit!)
Everything progressed relatively quickly and I felt labour switch to pushing so was helped onto the bed around 7.30pm. Without asking lights were dimmed and all was very calm. 1 hour of pushing in an upright kneeling position against the back of the bed (which felt great and very powerful) and my daughter was born. She came out relatively easily, however there was a slight delay (only a couple of minutes but felt like forever) when her body was out and not head, which panicked me, however we waited for a contraction, which did come and then she was here. It felt amazing to feel her come out.
She was floppy and not breathing on arrival (I’ve since learnt that’s normal with breech, but I was very worried at the time), cord was immediately cut and she was taken to the resus table and I didn’t get to see her. She apparently had fluid on the lungs and a blood clot in her mouth. She cried after 5 minutes, and I held her after 20 minutes, uninterrupted for the next hour. The best feeling ever. I recall saying to the doctor’s “there’s your *effing “proven pelvis”” ? (in jest, but that’s the term often used to explain why second time, but not first time mums can do something like a VBB).
I felt incredibly proud of my body. Labour was HARD, but for me it felt right. That said, had I needed a c-section I’d also totally made my peace with it. I was sad to loose out of immediate skin to skin and having the cord cut so quickly, the resus was stressful, and I needed stitches for a second degree tear, but these things may also have happened with a head down birth.
After the birth I had a lot of young excited midwives congratulating me and saying they hoped more breech births could happen, which was positive! One more for the books (as an aside I hadn’t realised as I was on all fours, but my husband told me at the point of birth there were about 15 people in the room, some because they needed to be, others just watching ?)
Anyway, the story of my beautiful breeching; Alma Medeina.