Noah's breech birth: A journey to know your options and make positive choices
By Tessa of www.tessayoga.co.uk, Jul 8 2017 05:20PM
Many congratulations to Jennie and Craig on the arrival of their baby son! Here is his birth story, which beautifully illustrates how when you know all the options availabe to you, you can make positive decisions as birth takes a very different direction than planned and still feel in control. Make sure to read the tips that Jennie has given you at the end of the story. There are lots of organisations out there that will support you in getting the best care for you and your baby.
Jennie says "After having made all the arrangements to have a home birth for our first baby, inevitably our 'plans' went out the window when at 36 weeks we established Noah was in the Frank breech postion (folded like a V shape). The home birth team were no longer able to support me and RBH more generally would only offer me an elective caesarean due to their staff's lack of experience and confidence in delivering breech babies naturally.
I tried everything (spinning babies, moxibustion, acupuncture, ECV, visualisation) between 36 weeks and his birth to get Noah to turn but he is clearly stubborn like his mum and lazy like his dad as he didn't budge a centimetre.
Being the dog with a bone that I am, I researched all our options and quickly established there was no reason we could not attempt for a vaginal breech birth (it was as safe, Noah was in best position, etc) except finding the care provider with the right experience to support us. After a 3 week battle with NHS trusts we got the agreement that the John Radcliffe would accept the transfer of our care to their specialist breech team who support VBBs.
I met a couple of their amazing staff for my transfer appointment on 29th June and clarified our plan, and I strongly suspect that it was after this meeting and knowing things were sorted out that my body relaxed enough for Noah to feel safe enough to make his way.
So, Saturday early hours of the morning i began to have 'tightenings' that were like strong period pains. I noticed them but assumed that it was just Braxton Hicks upping their anti. I attended yoga and a baby first aid course that day without any real issue. Then by 9pm Saturday I was getting suspicious as the tightenings were coming regularly (approx every 6 minutes for 40 secs) and were a bit stronger so I used some breathing techniques at times. I began to time them, and then accepted I was perhaps in early stages of labour (and had been all Saturday).
Sunday morning I suspected things had died off a bit, as tightenings were more sporadic. However low and behold at 8.30am I felt a pop whilst laying in bed and when I stood up my waters had broken! By 9.30am contractions were every 5 mins and stronger so I put my TENS machine on and we set off for Oxford (midwives didnt want to delay me coming in with him being breech).
When I arrived at the John Radcliffe contractions were every 2-3 minutes, and a continued to labour for approx another 8 hours. I only ever used the TENS machine and a birth pool for pain relief and I put this down to the breathing techniques, birth affirmations and education I had learnt and practised during pregnancy both at yoga and antenatal classes. The midwives made comments throughout my labour about how calm and in control I was, just breathing through contractions. I was very quiet and 'in the zone'.
It was funny as at various points in labour I could hear Tessa reminding me to keep breathing, imagine the golden thread/rope/chain, to keep jaw lose, and commenting things like "I trust my body and my baby to work together", which I really believed. I stayed mostly kneeling or on all fours, as it helped reserve energy but also meant I could do a lot of rocking, swaying and almost 'dancing' with my hips.
I had a really hands off labour with no examinations or interventions until the very end, when it was confirmed I was 10cm dilated but despite everyone's best efforts (and all my energy) Noah would just not come down into the birth canal. They could see his buttocks appearing when i contracted but then he would disappear again. After over an hour of my body pushing for him, we all agreed that something was stopping him from coming down and that a c-section was the right option (assisted delivery not an option with breech babies).
I was lucky to have an amazing consultant and midwives who respected and advocated for all my wishes for a more gentle c-section, so Noah was eventually born at 7.39pm with delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin (where he stayed for the whole op), no cleaning, minimal noise, lowered screen so we saw his sex for ourselves, and not being taken to be weighed until I was all stitched up.
Noah is gorgeous and I have absolutely no regrets about the way his birth ended up. The fight at the end of pregnancy was worth it as the whole labour was an amazing, positive experience and not one to be scared of.
The morals of this (very long) birth story that I wanted to share are:
-do your research.
-fight for your wishes as it's your body, your birth and your baby.
-accept that there is no 'right' way to birth your baby.
-your baby and body know what they are doing, and sometimes it is not aligned with what you may want! However, trust them.
-put in serious commitment to learning and practicing breathing techniques if you want to avoid other types of pain relief.
-listen to Tessa, she knows her stuff!! Keep breathing, keep calm and keep moving."
What an amazing story. 'Gentle caesarean' is increasingly being recognised as a mum- and baby-friendly approach, including the practice of seeding the microbiome (see article in the Guardian here, an article by the Positive Birth Movement here, and in Huffington Post with links to the Microbiome movie here) .
I can't wait to meet Noah! What a super cutie :)
Congratulations Jennie and Craig!