Our First Born was Breech

My recent chiropractor and midwife appointments revealed that my baby is in the LOA position, which is ideal for childbirth. I do hope she stays that way and I don’t do anything to mess that up!

Around this time, 5 years ago, I learned that my baby was in a breech position, which means she was right side up. My doula referred me to a prenatal chiropractor, who I’ve been with since then. He knew so much about the pregnant woman’s body and gave me adjustments and exercises to do to help her turn. For most of November, everyday I would lay upside down on an ironing board, propped up against the sofa, for at least 20 minutes. This was in attempt to help her turn. My plan had been to deliver at the hospital with the midwives but, if she stayed in breech position, I would have to have a cesarean. The problem is that many obstetricians are not trained in delivering a breech baby and the liability is greater since mom can’t be in a lithomy position to deliver. That position isn’t great for delivering any baby but that topic is for another day.

So, along with chiropractic care, I reached out to my acupuncturist, who I saw a few times and who recommend moxibustion at home, which I did. I hadn’t been seeing him throughout my whole pregnancy, not knowing all the ways acupuncture can help (i.e. nausea, headaches, etc.), and that was a misstep on my part.

I also did some exercises through Spinning Babies, a very popular and helpful website for pregnant mamas.

I did reiki and hypnosis as well with my doula in case there were emotional reasons I was holding my baby in this position. I didn’t want a hospital birth but the compromise was to do so with the midwife program, so it’s possible that the fear of having a hospital birth played a part.

Around 34 weeks, we met with an obstetrician, who recommended performing an ECV, or version technique, in the hospital, where they would manually turn the baby. We were not thrilled about this option but as we got closer and more desperate, we decided to go for it. The risks were minimal for both me and baby and he was known to have a high success rate.

It was shortly after Thanksgiving when we went in for the procedure. Given that we were at a “teaching hospital”, the room was full of eager, curious medical students. I’m all for learning and education but, when it’s your body and your baby, it’s different. Fortunately, I had my husband and my doula there to keep me focused, breathing and positive.

The obstetrician put his hands on my belly and manually turned my baby. Baby went from upright to transverse and back upright again. He attempted again two times. I didn’t feel pain per se but extremely intense pressure. I mean my baby and all the organs were being moving around! He asked if he should try again and I said yes. So, two more unsuccessful attempts and we decided to stop so as not to stress the baby more. The ECV had failed. The obstetrician later said he was amazed at what I was able to handle and that I was tougher than I looked but I was still disappointed.

So, in the following weeks, we continued doing what we were doing. The hospital was willing to attempt a vaginal breech birth. However, my original due date of December 19th came and went and now that was not an option. I was actually at a holiday work party on the dance floor on my due date but still no baby.

Shortly after 40 weeks, they called me in to see them a couple times a week. I felt fine and didn’t feel the urgency of delivering. But, they said the most I could go to was 42 weeks, at which point I would have to have a schedule cesarean.

I got to 42 weeks and my baby was still in breech position and still not ready to come out. So, we picked a date and, though I cried the night before, I had time to accept it and plan with my doula on how to have a gentle cesarean.

So, while I wouldn’t have the full experience of childbirth, she helped me come up with ways to make it less traumatic. 68% women describe their birth experience to be traumatic and, while the most important thing is that mom and baby are healthy and safe, how babies come into this world does matter. It matters physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physiologically.

The obstetrician did a great job even though I hated being in the hospital and complying with hospital procedures like not being able to eat when and what I wanted, not being able to hold my baby in the room, having to wake up at midnight for baths, wearing a hospital gown, being in a cold, sterile environment, not being asked if they could give my baby a pacifier etc.

Thanks to my doula, though, I was able to advocate for things that were important to me like not having my hands tied down during the procedure, immediate skin to skin, my husband declaring the sex of the baby, etc. This made a difference for me.

I still don’t know why my daughter was in that position and why she refused to turn. She might have had a short umbilical cord or she might have had the wisdom to know that was not the way she wanted to come into this world, or that a vaginal breech would have been risky. All I know is that she is as strong willed now as she was in utero.

So, I write this not to discourage anyone from trying everything in their power to help baby turn- because you should- but to know that sometimes you try everything you know of and it still doesn’t work. I’ve since learned that homeopathy can also help with breech babies but who knows if that would’ve worked. Something tells me it was more of an emotional reason than physical and yet I’ll never really know why.