Beautiful Breech Birth Story AND Photos

July 10, 2010 in Birth, Birth Stories, Hypnobabies

Katrina, a mom from the Hypnobabies Yahoo Group sent in her amazing  birth story.  She was pregnant with a breech baby, who just didn’t want to turn.  Luckily she found a midwife who was trained to catch vaginal breech babies.

She ended up having a nice, fast birth.

It was definitely a fast ride. But I remained very calm and peaceful during the whole thing. Thank you, Hypnobabies!

She was hoping to film it, but things went so quickly, she didn’t have a chance.

Her DH did grab the camera and took some amazing pictures.  You can see one with the baby half out and then see how beautiful Katrina looks moments after birth by visiting her blog and reading her birth story, complete with amazing pictures!

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Unexpected Cesarean due to Surprise Breech Baby

September 25, 2009 in Birth, Birth Stories, Births Attended, Cesarean, Doula, Hypnobabies, Pregnancy

I am sharing this story of a birth I attended as a doula, with permission from the mom.

Charlotte’s Birth

Jennifer had a few weeks of pre-birth pressure waves, it was a bit surprising to us all when she kept getting closer and closer to her guess date, as her first daughter was born at 37 weeks.  But this baby was waiting until she was ready!

Jennifer called me around 6 pm on Monday saying that this was probably the day.  They had spent the day enjoying Irvine Regional Park and now were home.  Her pressure waves were every 4 minutes or so, one would be strong, the next would be smaller then the next one strong again.  I suggested a shower and then call back to update me.

An hour later I called Jennifer and asked if it was ok if I came over.  She said yes, so I headed out.  Ryan called soon and said Jennifer was craving Cinnamon Rolls.  I tried our neighborhood Cinnamon Productions but it was closed!  So Ralphs Bakery Cinnamon Rolls would have to do.  I got to Jennifer’s around 7:40 and she was resting in the chair.  She was still having pressure waves pretty regularly.  She ate her cinnamon roll while we chatted.  We decided we should probably get ready to head out and call Grandma to come over.

Jennifer was busy getting things ready, having pressure waves and then her water broke about 8pm.  Jennifer got a little emotional, but we reassured her, she was doing great!  I let her know once she got settled in the car and listening to her CD it would help.  She WAS doing great!

I called the OB to let them know we were coming.  I met Jennifer and Ryan in the main lobby.  Jennifer was in the bathroom and I went into check on her.  She was excited that today was the day!  We made our way up to triage, arriving about 9 PM.   She explained her water had broken and we asked if she could skip triage.  They wanted to be sure her water had broken, so sent her into triage.  They only allow one person back there at a time, so Ryan hung out with her and then after awhile, I went in for a little bit and then Ryan went back in.

Jennifer was doing well, but the nurse would talk to her and distract her and sometimes it would make things slow down, not to mention make it harder to stay focused!  I was getting pretty frustrated that they weren’t getting her settled into a room.  It was evident she was in her birthing time, but they were not able to determine if her water had broken.

Then they did a swab to see if that would help them determine.  I saw the nurse at the microscope examining, for what seemed like forever.  Then the OB was there, looking in the microscope.   Then he came in and said he couldn’t see any amniotic fluid on the swab they took.  He watched her relax through a pressure wave.  He explained that he could tell she was in her birthing time, but he would like to do a vaginal exam to see what was going on.  Jennifer said ok.  This was about 10:30, an hour and a half after getting there!

Ryan and I went out of the curtain area.  Then I see the nurse getting the ultrasound and I was wondering what was up.  I heard the word breech and my heart sunk.  Ryan and I went in and Dr. Winter explained that Jennifer was 6cm and doing great, but the baby was breech.  He showed us the baby’s position with the ultrasound.  I asked if they could do a version.  But because her water HAD broken and she was having pressure waves, it wouldn’t be safe.

He said, had it been 20 years earlier she would be an ideal candidate for a vaginal breech birth, because she had already had a baby and her birthing time was progressing well.  He was impressed at how well she was doing.  But now the hospital doesn’t allow vaginal breech births, because of an increased liability to the hospital.  He said we had time to get used to the idea, it wasn’t an emergency situation.

I read the change of plans script.  I was near tears at the beginning.  It is such a hard situation, to be faced with a cesarean when it is such a surprise.  But by the end of the script I felt calmer, I hope Jennifer and Ryan did too.  Then it was a flurry of activity.   The nurse tried to put in an IV.  The Anesthesiologist was explaining things and answering questions.  Jennifer would have to pause for pressure waves.  Then about 11 Jennifer and Ryan walked to the OR and I went to the room to wait.  I prayed that all would go well and wondered, WHY?

Then about midnight, they came back to the room.  Charlotte was SO cute.  She was 7 pounds 2 oz, which is smaller than her sister had been.  Jennifer was a bit shaky, but once she had Charlotte in her arms she was good!  Charlotte latched right on and nursed like a champ.

That night when I went home, I couldn’t sleep and was up writing and pondering about Jennifer’s experience.  What I came up with was that even though it wasn’t ideal, I could see God’s hand in the process.  I was so surprised and irritated that they couldn’t tell her water had broken.  But if they had, then they wouldn’t have checked her until she felt like pushing.  Imagine the chaos if they determined the baby was breech while Jennifer was starting to push.  They would still want her to have a cesarean and then there wouldn’t have been time for a change of plan script and a much more emergency situation.  So it made me grateful that God knew what was happening and made it so that the OB felt the need to check her.

Though as an educated Childbirth Educator and Doula I know that she was a great candidate for a vaginal breech birth, I also know that sadly that option wasn’t really available to her.  It is FRUSTRATING!

I am in the process of making medals for moms.  You know the saying, “You don’t get a medal for natural birth.”  But I think moms DO deserve medals.  Every mom does, especially Jennifer, who worked hard to prepare for a natural birth, was DOING it and would have made it all the way, but for the safety of her baby agreed to a major abdominal surgery!  She totally deserves a medal!  (When I get them, I will bring one over for you.  You will get on of the first ones!)

Edited to add over at the At Your Cervix blog, she posted about a similar tale.  I wonder how often this happens?

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Support OB who supports VBAC and vaginal breech births.

August 25, 2009 in Birth Care Provider, VBAC

Most OBs allow the fear of liability to motivate their decisions, often not providing true informed consent.

Think of a mom with a breech baby.  Is she even given vaginal birth as an option.  99% of the time NO.  Rather she is told a cesarean is her only choice.  This is because that is the “rule” from the hospital, insurance companies, etc.  Not because it is necessarily the best choice.  This is not informed consent.  Informed consent would be here are the risks of a vaginal breech birth, here are the risks of a cesarean birth.  Information presented objectively.  Then parents are asked, “Which one do YOU want?”

There are a rare few OBs who will really let moms make informed choices.  Dr. Fischbein is one of those care providers.  He fights for a woman’s right to choose her birth experience.  He is now being punished for this.  Here is a website with more information. 

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Cesarean for 5th baby after 4 vaginal births

September 12, 2008 in Birth, Birth Stories, Cesarean

I have a dear friend who recently had her 5th baby.  She escaped a cesarean with her first with a patient OB who allowed her to push for 4 hours with a posterior baby. 

Then she narrowly escaped a cesarean with her 4th baby.  This story is incredible to me.  The baby was breech, they turned the baby using external version and scheduled an induction.  (She was on blood thinners and needed to be off them for a certain amount of time, hence the induction)  She goes in and they start pitocin.  The baby was head down, but then turned so she was breech again.  The OB does another version and decides to break the water, so baby will drop down and engage.  When the aniotomy (OB breaks her water) is done, the cord prolapses, a risk with breaking the water, especially with a baby that isn’t engaged. 

So they start scurring around for an emergency cesarean.  The Docor has his hand up inside my friend holding the baby’s head off the cord.  Then he says, “Wait a minute, I think the cord has gone back up.”  And indeed it had.  He stayed around in the room watching the monitor for about an hour.  Things look fine, so they restart the pitocin and she has a vaginal birth.   I have never heard of a situation like this, where a cord prolapse doesn’t end in cesarean.  It was a miracle. 

When she told me that story I was just so in awe that she escaped the cesarean.  Horray!

Well, I got an e-mail from her a few weeks ago, saying her 5th baby had arrived, but she needed a cesarean after a few hours of labor, because the baby was transverse (laying sideways, not head down, or butt down, but back down)  I started crying when I read her e-mail.  I was just so sad for her.  With 4 other little ones at home, I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy recovery.

I called her the other night to see how she was doing.  She is having a harder time this time and is amazed at how much harder the recovery is.  I got a few details.  The doctor broke her water and baby settled into this wrong position, the doctor tried to move her, but she wouldn’t budge.  So she had to have a cesarean.  I am so very sad this had to happen to her. 

We are separated by the whole country, but my heart and prayers go out to her and to all moms who have unexpected cesareans.

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Beautiful Breech Homebirth Story

August 21, 2008 in Birth

Breech Homebirth surrounded by mothers (Dad was away on business!)

            I wasn’t surprised to have sailed past my due date with my 5th baby. Fielding the phone calls, answering the questions about “when are you due?” had become so ingrained in public conversation that even my 4 year old son was wise enough to answer “Oh, the baby will come soon…” when questioned about my round belly. We weren’t rushing. Perhaps that is why my husband and I were at peace with his business travel (2 red eyes to Chicago) during my 41st week of pregnancy. (I had gone all the way to 42 weeks and 2 days with my 3rd son, so I wasn’t overly concerned). I remembered the wisdom of my previous homebirth midwife, Lora Burgess, who caught my daughter 2 years before. Lora had told me that at times, she felt that fathers, as wonderful as they are, sometimes do better when not involved in birth. Now, as I nurse my second daughter, I would have to agree. My husband and I made peace with the possibility that our baby may arrive without him, and we joked as he packed for his business trip. We made arrangements for my mother to stay over for 2 nights “just in case.”

I was talking on the phone with my husband after a whirlwind day that included a visit to my midwife, a trip to the grocery store, and one final ultrasound to confirm what we had known for weeks, that our baby was indeed breech, there was ample fluid, and that her particular position was still favorable for a vaginal birth at home. I had tried all of the non-invasive methods to encourage our baby to turn, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, visualization, swimming, inversion positioning. I had even attempted an external cephalic version at the hospital where my midwife has privileges in the case of emergency transfer. All to no avail. Again, I resolved that my baby was breech for a reason, and we all went ahead with our plans for another homebirth.

My water broke with a pop as I was talking to Glenn on the phone. I rolled off the bed and hung up on him. (Unceremonious, I know, but tonight was the night!) I called Evelyn, our midwife, and noted that the fluid was clear. She asked to speak with my mother to give her some preliminary instructions, and I crawled down 2 flights of stairs to toss the phone at my mother and claw my way back up to my bedroom.

I closed the doors of my childrens’ bedrooms, and decided that crawling was best for me. I was swaying with my contractions, pausing to breathe and focus. Meanwhile, my mother turned my bedroom into a chux pad carpeted slippery mess….She laughed at her jittery energy and I remember looking at her sharply and telling her “No more talking!” (It was time to get down to business) She wanted to help me through the contractions, but her touch broke my concentration so she sat beside me and watched as I swayed on my hands and knees. I wanted to push but I didn’t because I didn’t know how dilated I was. My mother, perhaps remembering that our third son had arrived well in advance of our midwives got up to read the sheet on “Birth Without a Midwife” that my husband had left in a bit of a joke to her.

Evelyn arrived shortly and I told her it was time to push. She agreed. She checked me quickly and encouraged me through my next contraction, then resumed setting up her supplies. Christina, our family friend arrived next. She was on hand for the kids if they needed her. Next, our second midwife, Casey seemed to appear out of nowhere. She blended in with the surroundings as I had decided to stand up and find a comfortable position to push.

Once I stood, my mother and Christina both sprang up to assist me in a squat. I didn’t want their help. I started to imagine my husband pacing the floors of his hotel room like a Dad from the ‘50s, waiting for news on his wife and baby. I missed him only briefly, though as the contractions were intense, and I knew that I was surrounded by women who love me, women that I respect and love. I was surrounded by mothers who all labored at one time. With the next contraction, I began thinking of my midwife, the talented Lora Burgess who passed away last year, who worked with Evelyn who always said that there are some births that fathers shouldn’t attend. She was right… With each contraction, my midwives, my mother and my friend would breathe with me, sigh with me, and rest in between. They labored right with me and their support, along with counter pressure from Christina, and her whisperings of support and love made me feel that Lora was right in the room with us, nodding her approval and smiling.

I was still standing and pushing as Evelyn sat next to my feet. With breech babies, there are manipulations that often need to be made on the part of the attendant to help the baby out safely and quickly. Vaginal breech delivery is a lost art, indeed. Many midwives will not attend them, and fewer hospitals permit them unless they take place in an operating room with an epidural. (This was confirmed by the obstetrician who attempted my cephalic version…he was “willing to deliver my baby vaginally as long as I delivered on a monitor in the OR under epidural anesthesia.”….The thought of birth in an operating room as tools for a cesarean laid at the ready, undermining the body’s ability to birth naturally saddened me. I didn’t want a c-section unless my baby was in danger.

She never was. Her fluid was perfect, her placenta was posterior, her cord was adequate, and she merely arrived bottom first in 4 of the most intense pushes that I have ever experienced. With vertex babies (my previous 4 were posterior vertex), the “work” is basically over once the head and shoulders emerge. The rest of the baby sort of slithers out quickly. Not so with breech babies.  I had to work for every inch of my baby daughter’s arrival. The first pushes of her birth exposed her bottom. (She pooped….not unusual for breech babies when their bottoms are exposed to the cool air).  The next brought forth her legs because her hips were flexed and her legs were folded Indian style against her body. I roared with the push that brought her shoulders, and lastly, one enormous push later her head was born and I couldn’t believe that Evelyn was saying, “Carla, take your baby!” in a shocked voice.

Evelyn never needed the special techniques to encourage her arrival. She never needed to help guide her legs down, help free the cord, or reach up to guide her head down by the chin. My daughter and I had done it together, and all my midwife had to do was wait and catch. She later remarked that what was poised to be the most challenging birth of her month ended up being the fastest and easiest.

I was still in utter disbelief as I reached to take my newborn girl from between my knees. She was pink and perfect. I looked into the faces of my mothers, my support. They were all in a circle around me, each one of them with tears in their eyes, smiling. And Lora was there too.

We all laughed and chatted as we waited for the placenta. We had to wait for some time (about 45 minutes) as I was exhausted from pushing. I reclined on my bed, holding my baby who looked at me with piercingly dark eyes. We soaked one another in as I delivered her placenta and my midwife noted that I had a tear that required repair. I really didn’t want anyone near my tender perineum after such a dramatic birth. I felt bruised (I was), and I had never had a tear or stitches before. Christina, Casey and Evelyn all gently urged me to have the stitches, and finally I agreed. My labia were quite bruised, as was the baby’s because of the force of my pushes and the speed of her birth.

Niobe Clarke was born as babies have been for thousands of years: At home, surrounded by women and mothers.  She weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces (my largest baby!), and was 20 ¼ inches long. Rather than resign myself to a surgical birth, I put my faith in my body, by baby, my midwives and my support. My labor was not difficult. I was clearly focused, I visualized throughout my labor and I imagined holding my baby. Pushing Niobe into the world was the most intense sensation that I have ever experienced. More intense than any of my previous births. Again, I had to work for every inch of her arrival and the burning sensation of stretching and expanding that often characterizes crowning, I felt through the entire birth, from bum to top of the head.

The phone rang. It was Glenn calling to “see how things were going.” He was shocked when just 2 hours after hanging up the phone with me, he had a new daughter! He began frantically throwing his clothes into a suitcase and breathlessly told me that “if he had to jog,” he would be home as soon as possible… He managed to get onto a 6 am flight and was home hours later. I remember opening my eyes and seeing him, kneeling beside our bed staring us.

Sometime throughout the night, my 9 year old son wandered in and met his new sister. My 4 year old, awakened to use the bathroom, and hearing the voices, came in to investigate and meet his sister as well. The other 2 children, my 7 year old son and 2 year old daughter met Niobe just before breakfast.

All 5 of my births taught me amazing lessons about the body’s natural ability to nurture and bring forth life when properly supported. I am proud to have had 5 unmediated, vaginal, natural births, the first 2 in a hospital and the following 3 in my comfortable home. All of my labors were intense, though the pushing phases of the first 4 births were comfortable. Each one of my births taught me a bit more about myself and my body’s abilities. Niobe’s birth, however taught me to trust my baby and midwives as much as I trusted myself. I will always be grateful for the lessons of birth, but Niobe’s arrival taught me more about trusting the wisdom of babies than any other.

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