In stark contrast to my first pregnancy, this pregnancy went along without too many hiccups so when I was told at 31 weeks that my baby was breech I was quite surprised.
Over the next few weeks I tried every natural method I could find to turn bubs. I tried inversion, “spinning babies”, moxibustion, acupuncture, ice, heat, music, you name it! Nothing worked!
I was terrified that having a breech baby meant automatic c-section, which is something I was desperate to avoid. I had lost all control during Lucas’ birth when it became an emergency situation and I couldn’t face another birth where I felt I wouldn’t be completely in control. This even included a birth under epidural.
After a long discussion with my amazingly supportive obstetrician and weighing up the pros and cons, we decided that a natural breech birth was the way to go.
Although my OB was happy to deliver a breech baby naturally he preferred a more “OB managed” approach which meant constant monitoring and being confined to a bed which if course was not what I wanted. He suggested I see another OB who is extremely experienced and renowned for his natural approach to breech births and set up an appointment for me.
After meeting with OB #2 I was so confident that having a natural breech birth was the way to go and started preparing myself by researching and watching clips of breech births on YouTube and reading everything I could find.
At 36 weeks pregnant I went for an appointment and was told that I was already 3cm dilated. I had been having some irregular contractions but they were very mild.
At 36+1 I had an external cephalic version (ECV) in a final attempt to turn bub. Although it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be it was unsuccessful and I couldn’t hide my disappointment. Knowing that bub was coming soon was difficult because I had to refocus and prepare myself for the breech birth.
From 36+2 to 36+5 I had bouts of irregular contractions nightly and my daily appointments showed that I was dilating further.
Finally, at 36+6 weeks at 3:50am my waters broke. I was excited that I was going to meet my baby and was willing my contractions to begin. I knew as soon as my waters broke I would be on the clock. I had been told that to have a natural breech birth I would not be “allowed” to be induced at all because it can be quite dangerous for bub and I was getting quite stressed and anxious.
By 4pm that afternoon I was exhausted from walking up stairs, bouncing on the fit ball, pacing, breast pumping and doing anything I could to get myself into natural labour and gave up trying. I ended up breaking down when shift change happened at 7pm and my new midwife suggested that I have a shower, watch a movie and go to bed to relax while she had a chat to “some people”.
She ended up coming into my room about an hour later smiling. She had heard a rumour that my OB (OB#3 now as OBs 1 and 2 were both on holidays) was considering giving me a touch of Syntocinon in the morning. He knew how much having a natural birth meant to me.
With that conforming news, and a little pep talk over the phone from a doula friend, I managed to calm down a little and went to bed. At 12.50am (37 weeks), I woke to the most horrible pain of my life. It was a continuous contraction for six minutes. I couldn’t believe that I had spent the entire day wishing for this!
Thankfully the contraction came to an end and I got a break for another 15 minutes until the contractions started to come regularly with one minute breaks between them.
I clung to a bean bag on the floor with hubby pressing into my lower back for another 15 minutes until my “team” came in. I had decided earlier in the day that I wanted to allow a few extras to watch the birth and gain experience in the hope that more women would be supported in having a natural breech birth. I ended up allowing my OB, a registrar (who was to deliver bub), two midwives, a student midwife and a paediatrician to witness the birth.
As each minute passed the contractions intensified but they felt so different to my previous birth. With Lucas they felt like they had a purpose and I could feel the progression and Lucas descending into my pelvis whereas these contractions felt “wrong”.
Hubby and my mid had to keep me on my feet so that gravity could help get bub down. He was still quite high at this point and I was almost fully dilated and ready to push.
Only five minutes later I finally felt the “right” contractions and felt like I was progressing. I could feel bub’s little bottom descending and moved to the birthing stool to begin pushing.
A few pushes later I could feel my baby being born. It felt very different to my head first birth with Lucas. Bub’s bottom and body coming through felt softer than a head and there was no “ring of fire”. I reached down to hold my baby as I pushed his body out and I felt each leg as they were born. The OB was supporting bub’s body with a towel so that he wouldn’t be cold and startled.
I felt bub’s arms and shoulders being born and knew that it was only a matter of seconds before his head would follow. I took a few breaths and let my body stretch knowing that bub’s head had not moulded like a head-first birth.
With one big push I birthed bub’s head and he was born. Since I was sitting on the birthing stool I was able to reach down and pull him up towards me immediately. Bub was born at 3.32am, 2hrs and 40mins from that first contraction.
I kissed him and cried for a whole minute while the cord was left to pulse however he was grey and limp and I knew he needed resuscitation. This is common in breech births so I was expecting it and wasn’t concerned.
Bub was taken over to be looked after while I delivered the placenta and was stitched up (the fast birth of his head had caused some small tears) but he wasn’t taken out of my sight. This was extremely important for me since my first son was taken immediately at birth since he had gone into distress and was six weeks premature.
Once bub was crying away I got to have a few minutes to cuddle him. This was so blissful and I cried because I was so happy but also because I felt like I was finally getting that special moment that I so desperately desired after missing out on it with Lucas.
I handed bub back over to the paediatrician after a few minutes of snuggling and she and hubby took him to the nursery for a proper assessment. By the time he arrived at the nursery he had recovered and only spent 15 minutes there before being brought back to the birth suite for his first breastfeed. I wish I could have stayed like that forever. It was perfect.
Hubby and I decided to call our new little boy Jamie Alexander and enjoyed a nice nap for a few hours before my mum and dad arrived with two-year-old Lucas.
I decided that I had spent enough time in hospital over the past week and had the paediatrician do another quick check of Jamie so that I could take him home. His hips were both slightly dislocatable from being breech but after his first big cry he had kicked them back into place and checks a few weeks later showed that they were perfect.
After our 12 hours, we packed up our two beautiful boys went home, got into bed together and started our lives as a family of four. I couldn’t be happier. Jamie is a perfect baby and my recovery was very fast. I’m so glad I was able to birth him naturally. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Thanks to mum Natalie for sharing her incredible birth story with us.
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