Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: In the kitchen making broth
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For the birth of my first son, David, I was planning a homebirth with a very empowered midwife. From about 34 weeks, we knew he was breech. We tried everything- homeopathy, pelvic tilts, bodywork, cold peas, external version (not in hospital), acupuncture. But he never turned at all. He knew how he needed to be born. Two years later, as a very verbal two year old, he told me with no prompting, his memories from in the womb. He told me that he kept trying to turn, but the cord kept jumping him up. He was fighting with it, and it was tight around his neck. It was scary. What a lot of pressure I put on my unborn babe. Try everything that feels right to you, but do it gently. In the end trust your unborn babe as much or more than yourself. Don't let your fear get in the way of his wisdom.
Somehow I think breech babies come to teach us something about fear. I know I certainly went through mine. I drew black and red pictures of babies getting stuck. Do what you need to do. Face the fear. It will release you. When my labor finally came I felt practically no fear.
I was planning a homebirth up to the very end, until the licensing board threatened my MW. By then it was too late to take off to the Farm in Tennessee. Besides, I wanted to be as close to home as possible. We briefly mentioned unassisted birth, but at that time we weren't ready for an unassisted breech birth. Now I think I might be. I birthed by baby in the hospital with a radical doctor and nurse who were on call for me in a virtually intervention free birth. My dear friend and midwife was there looking into my eyes. I will post my whole birth story soon, but in brief, I dilated to 9 1/2 cm in 2 hours. Then went to hospital and stopped dilating for 5 hours. I had one little lip of cervix that wouldn't disappear. My attendants rightly or wrontly believed that it was unsafe to push out a breech baby with any cervix left (because the head could get stuck inside). So I panted through every contraction for 5 hours trying to resist my very strong urge to push. Talk about agony. In fact my labor was virtually painless otherwise. I think people who say breech babies are less painful are right. After 5 hours, my attendants started talking about cesarean. Even though I was not fatigued, I probably would not have resisted, in fear for my baby, but my empowered MW knew how to listen to her inner voice and helped me listen to mine. She went to the chapel and prayed. She heard her mentor midwife say, "Massage it."
She came back, and as a last ditch effort, the doctor allowed my midwife who had no hospital privileges to massage my cervix (behind closed doors). He, who was a good doctor and had many years of experience with breech birth, had tried three times to push on that lip of cervix. It had been excruciating, and hadn't helped at all. During two contractions, my MW massaged my cervix, and said, "Feel your cervix melting away." It hurt, but nothing like the unbearable pain of the doctor pushing. I knew it was melting. After the second contraction, she looked at the doctor and said, "It's gone." They then told me to start pushing, and I've never done anything so exhilarating my entire life. My beautiful breech babe was born in 20 minutes. A doctor with 20 years experience with breech birth had no idea what to do at the critical moment. But my midwife listened to her inner voice and tuned in with me and we made it through. All that said and done, there's no way to know what might have happened if I had stayed home, but my guess is that baby would have been born smoothly and beautifully 5 hours earlier.
Before David was born, I spoke to a woman who gave birth to a footling breech unassisted. My midwife got me in touch with her. Her water had been broken a whole week and her baby was settled into a foot-down position ( the most dangerous from a medical stand-point). But she decided to trust the process NO MATTER WHAT THE OUTCOME. She told me her story and how she visualized birthing like a mountain lion. Her courage inspired me, even though at that time, I chose not to go the unassisted route. She helped me face my fear, and find my inner courage. You can do this.
p.s. If you want a little instruction on the mechanics of breech birth, get a hold of the video The Farm puts out with Ina May. I watched it over and over and it helped me to visualize and feel very confident about the safe physical process of breech birth.