Some background on your pregnancy.
I had been planning to have a home birth. We were thrown for a loop when at 39 weeks it was confirmed that Corinne was breech! She was suspected to have been hanging out in a strange position for a couple of weeks, but we didn’t know for sure how she was hanging out until I got a quick ultrasound to confirm things. Sure enough, she was frank breech.
I had myself an awesome, experienced, knowledgeable midwife doing all of my prenatal care, and a backup OB to handle things should I need to transfer (and who cleared me for home birth in the first place). I was so thrilled that my dream of finally having the water birth that I’d wanted since college would finally become a reality. And then Corinne decided to be breech. Which meant unless she turned, she’d have to be born at the hospital under the care of my backup OB, who was actually on board with delivering a frank breech baby naturally. She’s one of the very few experienced OBs when it comes to breech presentation.
Once we found out, we started literally praying without ceasing. I immediately started doing all the recommended maneuvers from spinningbabies.com, and going to the chiropractor daily for the Webster technique. I even took recommended homeopathy to encourage her to turn. Still she stayed in her cozy spot with her head at the top right side of my belly. I was so discouraged. My final week and half of pregnancy were filled with so much emotion, but through it all, I felt God was telling me to trust Him. I knew He designed my body for birth, so I really didn’t have to worry. I also trusted my midwife and Dr. and knew I was in good care.
Why do you think your baby was breech?
I really don’t have an answer for that. I’ve had 2 previous vertex babies, so I know it wasn’t for any anatomical reasons. I guess she just got settled in butt-down and didn’t want to move, no matter how hard I tried to get her to!
Tell me about your decision to move your birth to the hospital.
Midwives cannot “catch” breech babies legally here in the state of Louisiana, so since I had hired a CPM for my home birth, she was not legally able to catch my baby once we knew she was breech. I was able to labor at home, but once I hit active labor, we had to transfer to the hospital under the care of my backup OB. It was not what I had wanted originally, but I trusted my midwife and OB and felt comfortable with their advice.
What kinds of things did your OB tell you about breech birth to prepare you?
Honestly, I had done a lot of self-education regarding breech vaginal delivery. So I really didn’t ask my OB much about it besides confirming the fact that she would attend my vaginal breech birth. She had also explained to me the various types of breech positions and confirmed that my daughter was in a favorable position for natural birth, so I was encouraged by that.
Did you find labor and birth with your breech different from vertex births in a discernible way?
It was very similar to my previous births in many ways. However my previous births were augmented, and induced, respectively, so this was my first birth that was completely unmedicated. I think my two previous labors were actually more intense in some ways. This time around, I felt more generalized pressure from my lower back and around to the front. I also felt a lot more rectal pressure as I hit transition, which increased as I started pushing, which I know I also felt in my previous births, I just felt it sooner and more intensely this time. It was also a bit easier to push her out I think because her bottom is squishier than her head would’ve been. That could also be due to the position I pushed in too though. Otherwise though, there wasn’t much that was different.
How did being a doula effect your labor and birth?
Being a Doula, I am very well educated on the whole process of birth. So I think it helped me to be more in tune with was was going on in my body during the whole labor process. I felt completely confident throughout the whole experience, and never once did pain medication cross my mind like it had with my previous births. I was also able to discuss and suggest pain-reliving techniques such as counter-pressure, massage, essential oil use, rice sock (heating pad) use, and rebozo use with my husband and midwife between contractions to try to see what might help me once things got more intense. So I definitely think being a doula helped me to have a better birth this time around!
How did you decide on the hands and knees pushing position?
I had read that hands & knees was one of the best positions to deliver a breech baby in. I had also seen an awesome breech birth video using that position. It’s just a great birthing position in general anyway, but I knew it would help lead to a quicker delivery. So once I knew I was about to start pushing, I made sure to get into that position. I just knew that I did not want to deliver on my back again!
How did you happen upon a breech-friendly OB?
When I moved to New Orleans last year, I was able to connect with a local doula through facebook who was involved with a group of doulas known as Nola Nesting. I met with them in person and made instant friends, and I decided to join them. They were already familiar with many OB’s in the city and told me about this particular OB who was extremely supportive of natural births, home births, VBAC’s, and natural breech births. Then, when I found out I was pregnant and interviewed my midwife for home birth, she recommended this same OB for backup care who seemed to be the only one supportive of home birth in the area. So that made the decision to use her easy!
If you didn’t have a supportive and breech-friendly OB, what do you think you would have done?
I probably would’ve been very scary and uncertain of what to do. I don’t think I would’ve felt confident enough to birth unassisted at home, so I imagine I would’ve fell victim to an unnecessary c-section.
Other than seeking out supportive care providers, do you have any specific recommendations or advice for parents with breech babies?
First of all, don’t panic if your baby is breech. Education is important, so research all of your options! Obviously natural breech birth is possible. If it helps you to feel better though, do everything you can to try and encourage your baby to flip. I found spinningbabies.com to be a valuable resource. There are many things you can try and do to help the baby flip, but in the end, if the baby stays breech, then maybe there’s a good reason for that. I feel glad that I tried everything I could, but ultimately, she needed to be born breech, and I’m ok with that. Whatever you decide though, make it a confident, well informed decision.
I am incredibly happy with our “plan B” birth experience. I think everything worked out just as it was meant to be, with a perfect outcome! I just hope this empowers other women facing breech births to know all of their options, and to make informed decisions. Seek out the best care providers for you, and don’t allow yourself to be bullied. Breech doesn’t always equal a c-section, and for that I am glad!