Tell us briefly about your breech birth.
My first baby was a surprise breech. I planned a home birth and only had one ultrasound at 20 weeks. She was frank breech in the ultrasound. My labor began in the evening when I was 41 weeks. It was gradual, and I stayed awake all night resting as much as I could. My baby had never quite engaged but I wasn’t worried. Labor built slowly and the only part that hurt was how bad it made my lower back and hips feel. Eventually it seemed labor had slowed a bit and we were worried I would get too tired with another night without sleep. We did some things to speed it up, like cohosh and a breast pump, around 18 hours. Shortly after that my midwife told me I was wide open with waters bulging. She also couldn’t feel the baby, and had me lay on my back to push really hard. My waters broke and that was when she told me the baby was breech. I kind of checked out mentally after that, told myself that if it was safe for baby to come she would come, but that I was probably going to the hospital. I wasn’t comfortable having her at home. After about three hours and no progress (baby at plus one station) I went to the hospital. I had a good experience there and my baby was perfect. I also experienced the most incredible rush of hormones I will never forget. I fell completely in love with my baby.
Why do you think your baby was breech?
I have no idea why my baby was breech. Psychologically I can’t imagine, and physically, well, everything was normal. Breech doesn’t run in my family. I wonder if she just grew that way and didn’t want to move about a lot. I think she may have been breech since that ultrasound.
What made you want to pursue a VBAC?
I already knew VBAC was the safest and healthiest thing based on experiences my friends had and my own research. I knew I was a good candidate because I got so far in my first labor. I also read the book Silent Knife a lot, when I needed encouragement.
Tell us about your experience finding a caregiver for your vbac.
I picked the first midwife we interviewed the second time around. I liked her a lot, and she had lots of VBAC experience. VBAC home births are allowed in Utah, so I had no problems finding a midwife who would take me as a client.
Were you concerned that you’d have another breech baby and did you do anything consciously to prevent malpositioning?
I didn’t worry about breech. I am not sure why. At the 20 week ultrasound my baby was head down, which I found incredibly comforting. His movements were different, too, in a way that made me realize my mistake with my first…she kicked in the same places being frank breech but my son would stretch out and put pressure on my ribs and lungs which I had not felt before. As I got closer I worried more, but my midwife showed us how to feel for the head ourselves, which was helpful.
Was there anything about your recent labor that felt decidedly different than your breech labor? Anything you feel you can attribute to position?
Unfortunately, I still had position issues. Again, I didn’t know until late in labor. He was sunny side up. I had false labor for almost two days. It was exhausting and harder than my breech labor, because I didn’t have the benefits of nice hormones. My contractions would be four to ten minutes apart, last thirty seconds to two minutes, be varying degrees of pain, and were double peaking and not coming on and off gradually like normal labor. My back and hips hurt just the same as in my breech birth.
How about pushing? You got to pushing with your breech, so you have pushed with both. What do you have to say about the sensations comparing the two?
I transferred to the hospital when after almost two days I was a three and not effaced. I went to get help slowing things down, but by the time we arrived I was in active labor. I was surprised. And tired. And still double peaking, etc. So I got my first epidural. I pushed with it though it was wearing off, we think the tube might have come out. So I am not sure how much I was feeling, really, and comparing natural pushing to epidural pushing I believe is like apples and oranges. I’m sorry I can’t say more! I will say that even through the epidural I felt the urge to push before anyone had checked. With my breech, I didn’t feel like pushing until my midwife told me to try. Then I couldn’t stop pushing.
If you had found out this new baby was breech during pushing, what do you imagine your reaction would be?
I would have wanted to keep going. I never wanted a cesarean over vaginal, even for breech. I just didn’t feel ok doing it at home. Being in the hospital I would have tried, but only if the provider was experienced, too.
Is there anything about your babies that you compare and wonder if it is attributable to birth position (breech/vertex) or route (vaginal/cs)?
Both my babies are healthy and perfect. I’ve not noticed a difference in them. There are so many other factors that influence them. My daughter had a shallow latch, my son a tongue tie, so I can’t even blame cesarean on how Breastfeeding went. However, my false labor and then epidural I believe contributed to my not having the same hormone rush, though to be fair, a friend who had her second natural birth said she didn’t get that rush either.
What advice or thoughts do you have for women with breech babies?
Talk to providers who attend planned breech births, not the ones who just go straight to surgery; they don’t know how to deliver breech so how can they fully inform you of your options? Then trust your instincts. If you want a cesarean consider at least waiting until labor starts on its own. My baby didn’t come until 41 weeks. A lot of docs will schedule cesarean for breech at 39. Two weeks in the womb is a long time developmentally. Breech is not an emergency.