This is a personal birth story of a successful natural breech birth. I am not a doctor, so please follow your doctor or midwife’s advice during labor for a safe and successful birth. I am also NOT judging moms who have c-sections. The goal of labor is to bring a baby into the world the safest way for both mother and child.
Our little Madeline made her “grand entrance” into this world on September 27th, 2014. I say “grand” because my sweet little girl was breech and came out butt first!
From the beginning, I knew I wanted to try for an unmedicated birth this time around. With my first baby, my son Graham, I had low milk supply and wasn’t able to breastfeed like I wanted. So this time, I didn’t want any drugs in my system to make sure that breastfeeding would (hopefully) get off to a better start.
My labor started on a Friday afternoon. All week I had been walking up and down our street, trying to get things going. That morning, while Graham was at school, I walked up and down 3 times in a row. We live on a huge hill, so this was no easy feat at 40 weeks pregnant. I also chugged 3 cups of red raspberry leaf tea that afternoon – hoping that might kick things into gear.
Around 5pm, I started having mild cramps, nothing too painful. My mother-in-law texted to ask how I was feeling. I told her I was having cramps, but to not get too excited. I asked her if she’d go ahead and drive over that evening – just in case. I’m so grateful she came even though we didn’t end up going to the hospital until Saturday. Just having her there made me feel better – I knew there would be someone to watch Graham if we had to pick up and leave quickly.
All evening the cramps continued. I think I started timing them around 9pm. They were 10 minutes apart. I still wasn’t sure I was actually in labor and wondered if the cramps would go away after I went to bed. I was able to fall asleep just fine, but woke up around 3am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I was still having the cramps and they were still about 10 minutes apart. I let Josh and my mother-in-law sleep since I really wasn’t really in pain, and the cramps/contractions were still so far apart.
Josh, Graham, and my mother-in-law all woke up around 7. They were so excited that I was still having the contractions! This was it! We called my parents and my father-in-law to tell them I was in labor. They all rushed over to our house even though we figured it would probably still be a while.
We ate breakfast and watched some tv while I easily breathed through the contractions. Graham played and was being sweet. My parents and father-in-law arrived. It was a nice, relaxing morning.
I decided to bounce on my exercise ball to see if I could make get things to hurry along. The bouncing helped I guess, because around 10am my contractions started to get worse. I timed them again and they were 5 minutes apart, and more painful. Graham was getting restless and the living room was feeling a little crowded with my parents and Josh’s parents. I felt like I couldn’t concentrate well on breathing through the contractions, so I told Josh I wanted to go ahead and leave for the hospital. I knew it was still probably too early, but the idea of being in a calm hospital room without any distractions sounded nice. We grabbed our bags and got ready to leave. I got emotional when I kissed Graham goodbye – it was the last time I’d see him when he’d be my only baby!
We headed over to the hospital and I called my midwife and my doula. We got all checked in and my doula arrived. My midwife popped in to say hi. Everything was going smoothly and I was still able to breath easily through the contractions. The nurse went to check me (I was at a 5) and was quiet. She asked me if I was having a breech baby. I was super confused and said no, but started to worry. She said she couldn’t feel the baby’s head, but she would order a sonogram to make sure.
The moment she left the room I started crying. We had no idea Maddie was breech! She must have flipped at some point – I hadn’t had an ultrasound since 20 weeks. In my mind I was sure I was headed for a C-section – so much for my natural birth! So much for my water birth! I hadn’t even thought about having a C-section since I’d had Graham vaginally and this was my second baby.
The sonogram confirmed she was breech, but also confirmed that she was in a good position and a good size to try a vaginal birth. I didn’t even realize that was an option! My wonderful midwife and doula explained the risks of a vaginal breech birth, but they were both positive about trying it. My doula even pulled up a video of a vaginal breech birth for us to watch on her phone.
Josh and I prayed about it and decided to give it a try. My midwife told me that a few extra people may be in the room when the baby arrives – just in case. They also told me that I wouldn’t be able to have a water birth and that I would have to be on my back for the delivery – all protocol I guess at the hospital for vaginal breech births. At this point I didn’t care about any of that. I was just trying to not freak out and breath through my contractions.
I’m not going to lie – I was scared. Especially when they started prepping me for an emergency C-section, just in case that was the final outcome. They had to put an IV in and give me fluids to make sure that if something went wrong, they could quickly get me into surgery.
I’m so glad that we got to the hospital when we did. I was in labor, but it wasn’t too painful yet. If we had waited until later to get to the hospital, there might not have been time to make an informed, calm decision about the birth. I’m also so grateful that we decided to go with the midwife practice we choose, instead of the doctor that delivered Graham. Trying for a vaginal breech birth wouldn’t have been an option with that doctor.
Everything went smoothly the rest of the morning and afternoon. We just hung out in the hospital room, breathing through contractions, and watching part of the UGA/Tennessee game on tv. (Go Dawgs!)
I’m not sure of the timing here – but I think around 3pm or 4pm things started to get a little more intense. My contractions started to get really painful. I started feeling nauseous and threw up. My doula put a little bit of peppermint essential oil around the room to help with my nausea. I remember laying there in the bed on my right side for what felt like an eternity, but it was probably only about two hours. I was so miserable and trying to still breath through the contractions. My doula suggested I moan using a deep voice. I probably sounded ridiculous, but for some reason it helped. Squeezing Josh’s hand and looking into his eyes also helped keep me focused and calm.
After a while, I started doubting I could do it. I kept saying “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” Josh was there with me – encouraging me, but my fear was getting the best of me. That’s when my doula suggested I sit up for a while. I sat on the edge of the bed and Josh sat in a chair in front of me. I held onto his thighs and looked into his eyes. I kept saying, “I can’t do this.” But he would say, “Yes you can. You can do this.” Finally I started to calm down and believe him. I said one time with determination, “I CAN do this.” And I swear that’s when my water broke!
Right after that, my body just started to bear down all on its own – it was super scary. It felt like I was convulsing – my body was pushing – I had no control over it. With each convulsion, I lifted up a little so I was squatting, still holding onto Josh’s thighs. I felt Maddie moving down. I guess my doula or the nurse went and got my midwife (and the doctor on call that was required to be in the room since it was a breech birth). All I knew is that someone made me lay back – and everyone was telling me not to push. I was so out of it – I felt wild, primal. I was definitely not one of those calm women you see – there was no gentle breathing at this point. I was frantic – freaking out – scared.
I had no idea it would feel the way it did. It was just, crazy!! I could feel Maddie moving down – I could feel every bit of it. I guess it didn’t really hurt at that point – it was just scary because my body was pushing her out – I had no control over it. And everyone was still telling me not to push, but I couldn’t understand why! My head kept turning back and forth – looking at the nurse, the doctor, my doula, Josh, trying to get everyone to understand that the baby was coming out of me – I wasn’t pushing – she was just coming! Josh kept trying to get me to only look at him. The only time I was calm at all was when I was looking into his eyes.
At one point when I was frantically looking around, trying to get everyone to understand that I needed to push, I saw a couple of random nurses standing in the corner of the room. (They were there in case something went wrong – extra hands to help with the baby or me I guess.) One of the nurses was a guy and he had the creepiest look on his face. At that moment I did NOT want him looking at me. But I couldn’t think of words to tell him to look away so I just shook my head at him and glared.
I also made everyone in the room laugh at one point during this frenzy. I said, “Y’all, this does NOT feel good!”
I know now that the reason they kept telling me not to push is because Maddie was coming so fast and they were trying to break down the bed and get ready for the birth. Luckily they got everything ready just in time.
My body convulsed and I felt part of her come out (her butt). By this point I was so over everything that I did start actually pushing – to hell with everyone telling me not to push! I pushed once and her body came out. And then I pushed one more time and her head came out. And man – it felt amazing once it was over.
At 5:48pm, they laid Madeline right on my chest like I had always dreamed. (Didn’t get to experience that with Graham’s birth.) She ripped out my IV and got blood all over the both of us, but I didn’t feel it at all. She was facing away from me and I kept asking if I could turn her around. Her cord was short, so they weren’t able to turn her until it was cut. Josh finally was allowed to cut it and someone turned her and I saw her beautiful face. I touched her and said hi. She was laying on her stomach, bobbing around, already ready to nurse. I scooted her over a little so I could latch her on – but she latched all on her own! She knew what to do. She stared right at me while she nursed – her pretty dark blue eyes looking deep into mine.
It was love!
Welcome to the world, little Madeline! You came in backwards, but your birth was perfect anyway!