I wanted to share my birth story of my second birth – which happened to be a footling breech (unbeknownst to us). Quite often I come across horrific birth stories. So few people I know offer positive birth stories and I beg the question as to why? Both my births were wonderful and exhilarating, the first a textbook birth and the second a complete topsy turvy (literally), but I believe overrides any ‘normal’ birth with no complications. I choose to present it in a positive light, because that’s what it was – a positive birth. A safe birth. A birth to remember.
*Note: a long read, but worth it, I promise you.
As some may know from my previous writings, I am a firm believer in Hypnobirthing. I practiced this with my first birth and was able to deliver my baby with zero pain medication in a manner and environment that I chose. The birth itself was pretty much ‘textbook’. She was even born on her due date, which apparently is very rare! With my second, there was no question about it – I would follow the same path chosen as with my first.
My actual labour must have started the Friday before I realised I was in labour. I had a few mild cramps, but as I was ‘overdue’ at that point, these cramps were a familiar feeling. The Saturday passed without a fuss. I went for lunch and took my eldest out for what must have been the hundredth ‘last lunch’ as an only child. I decided to take her to the arcade and we went for a walk around the entertainment district. I felt cramps throughout the day but focused on my activities instead. I thought my water had broken earlier on in the week, but I had just peed myself without knowing it (Ha! The joys)… So, naturally, I wasn’t going to get excited over ‘false labour’ again.
We arrived home around 4pm, drank a cup of coffee and chatted to my Mom. The cramps were stronger at this point, and I mentioned that I THOUGHT I was in labour, but the cramping didn’t remind me of my first labour, so I ignored it. Around 7pm, I started timing my cramps, which turned out to be contractions (or surges, if you are familiar with the Hypnobirthing phrases). Called my Midwife, told her they were 5 minutes apart, and she bid me farewell with a “see you later”.
I took a leisurely bath, thinking I was possibly 1-3 cm dilated, but not far enough to be admitted to the clinic just yet. I ate dinner, and went to lie in bed. I practiced my Hypnobirthing techniques for managing contractions, eventually getting out of bed when my midwife called to check up on me. Although the contractions were decidedly stronger, I was in full control of them (much more than I had been during my first labour). I decided it was time to make our 30min journey to the clinic.
With each surge I felt building up in the car, I continued drawing myself deeper into a relaxed state. They came and wet as the tide ebbs and flows. When we arrived, my midwife caught me mid-contraction, a smile on my face. She couldn’t believe I was ‘still smiling’, but honestly, what else would I be doing when I know my baby is finally coming to me? Attitude. It’s all about attitude.
The birthing clinic was completely silent, and almost every room was vacant. Totally opposite to when I had my first baby there. We went into a room my Midwife had prepared for us, and she did an internal.
“8cm dilated!” She exclaimed.
What? How? Really? I couldn’t believe it. During my first birth I was in a trance by this state, blocking out the pain, but this? Nah, this was easy.
My Midwife was hardly out the door to complete some ‘paperwork’ when I called her back in. I had the urge to push.
I got into the bathtub and with one surge my water broke, popping like a balloon. My Midwife asked if I could feel the head, but I couldn’t. She did another internal while I was in the bathtub, a look of slight concern on her face. When she removed her hand, a gush of meconium tinted the water dark green. She asked me to get out so that she could perform a full internal, and monitor the baby for stress. Although I thought the meconium was inevitable (I was almost 41 weeks) I didn’t ask any questions.
The baby’s heart rate was perfect, but as she removed her hand for the third time that night, she looked at me gravely and said “I think your baby is breech”.
I looked at her, waiting for her to yell “JUST KIDDING!” but instead she got up and called a nurse.
“We have a breech, call the Doctor and the anesthesiologist. We will need a paediatrician too”.
“What’s going on?” I asked, fighting off another contraction, but failing.
“Don’t push” She said “You need an emergency C-section”.
As she said that, my mind went blank and I felt myself shut down.
A C-section? After all this, after all I had gone through in my pregnancy, good and bad?After all the preparation, hypnobirthing, breaking of my ankle, yoga and eating clean, I was going to end up having the thing I dreaded most? My heart broke in that moment, yet I remained as emotionless as an AI Robot. It was quite surreal for me… lying on the bed as she placed a drip in my hand (worst pain ever), watching as my husband sat next to me completely helpless, a nurse putting a theatre gown on me and removing my birthing gear. I watched the scene unfold as if I were watching a movie, not living a chapter in MY life. The most difficult thing for me at that point was “not pushing”.
If anyone has been asked ‘not to push’ when a human is literally making its way down towards you vagina and your body is splitting in half to allow it to do so, you will know this is practically impossible. And for those of you that have not experienced this, it’s like being asked not to shit yourself when you have gastro. Yup. Impossible.
Throughout all of this, I kept repeating the one Hypnobirthing affirmation that stuck out above the rest… I will accept whatever turn my birth may take (I felt cheated)… I will accept whatever turn my birth may take… (I felt enraged)… I will accept whatever turn my birth may take… (I felt alone)… I will accept whatever turn my birth may take… (I felt nothing)
In what felt like an age, but was realistically 10min or so, my Doctor arrived. I felt an instant mood change in the room. My midwife, the nurses, my husband. All of them, changed. I personally felt relief. Surely he will be able to help me?
He washed his hands and dropped right down in front of me, not caring about his neat chocolate jersey or smart shoes. His calmness and complete control set me at ease. He examined me and said quietly yet unmistakably “Your baby is breech, but we are having it now”
My midwife, shocked, asked him if a C-section wouldn’t be better.
“There’s no time, look, there’s the foot. Let’s birth this baby”.
I yelled “Okay!” – Probably the loudest and most relieved “okay” I have ever said in my life. I suddenly felt ready, I felt determined and in complete control. I looked at my Doctor as he spoke to me and I knew, as our eyes connected, that he and I would do this together. Nothing was going to stop us. This was happening and we were going to do it.
I was back. I was not having a C-section. I knew I was strong enough to handle this. This was nothing. My baby was ready. So was I.
With my Doctor coaching me as he spoke softly, I felt my baby girl pop out her next leg, and then her torso. Before the head, he asked me to push. I couldn’t. I didn’t have the urge. Just as you can’t STOP pushing, you can’t magically induce a push that isn’t there. At some point I roared “Oh my GOD!” and then I thought “Wait, is it oh my God, or oh my Allah? Doc is Muslim… who are we yelling to? And will he be offended if I cry ‘Oh my God’ or if I cry ‘Oh my Allah’?” These were literally the thoughts running through my head as I birthed a breech baby. Not even joking.
My ‘Pushing’ sensation came back, and I allowed my body to birth my baby’s head. Within 15min from my Doctors arrival, my baby girl was born. He placed her on my tummy. She wasn’t moving or breathing. Doc said ‘give her a moment’ when my husband asked if she was okay, but I instinctively knew she was. I saw her arrive, as she took a breath and cried. The sweetest cry yet.
My Doc left after my placenta came out, and my Midwife said, as she removed the needle that was still in my hand for the drip I never had, “That was something, we almost never see that, a breech birth without a C-section”.
After about an hour, I went and had a shower, and was walking up and down my room with her. I was hungry now. And thirsty. I didn’t really sleep. I was too excited and relieved that I got to have my baby naturally – the way I wanted to. I didn’t need a cut, and I didn’t tear. I felt better than I did after I had my first birth. This was amazing.
I left the same afternoon, with the clinic staff whispering as I went “There goes the breech birth. The one from this morning”. Seemingly, the staff had been talking about it all night. I didn’t fully realise why it was so rare. I still don’t, to be honest. I am a firm believer that your mind controls a lot of your reality, and if you will something strong enough, it will happen.
Of course I didn’t want a breech birth. I fully understand the danger thereof. However, many women around the world have been able to safely deliver a breech baby that they knew would be breech, and so have women in my situation where the baby suddenly turned breech, and they were unprepared for it.
The birth was completely doable, and both my baby and I were the picture of health afterwards. A reminder that this was done without any pain medication, without medical intervention (forceps, etc), and without fear.
In no way am I encouraging natural beech births – if your baby is breech, you will need to discuss the birth with your birthing practitioner and weigh up the pros and cons. If you have a surprise breech like me, what I am encouraging is YOU. You are 100% in control of your thoughts and actions, and you are stronger than you realise. Your mind is your greatest weapon. Use it to your advantage.
I hope my story has helped to inspire a better, more positive outlook on breech birth, and natural birth in general. You are the artist of your life, so paint boldly.
Do you have a birth story to share? Let me know. I am fascinated by them all.
Pray and Slay,