Before I tell my story I would like to share a little bit about myself. I've had two home births: one water birth and one breech birth. I have worked in Women's Health/OB/L&D for 10 years and 5 of those years as a L&D nurse. After being completely frustrated and burned out on the way I saw maternity care I began to research about midwifery and quickly became intrigued. Once I became pregnant I knew that I wanted a midwife as my care provider and after interviewing both out-of-hospital and in hospital I chose the out-of-hospital midwife. My first birth went beautifully and we had a daughter born in the water.
Here is my story of my second birth. A birth that showed me even more how much strength I had and how much I was capable of accomplishing.
September 21, 2012
I woke up at 4:30 am needing to use the bathroom and realized I had some cramping. When I got back in bed the cramping turned into a more rhythmic contraction pattern every 10-15 minutes or so. I noticed my husband getting out of bed around 5:30 and I told him I had been awake and noticed a few contractions. We both got up together and he planned to go to the store to go get some eggs to make some breakfast. Around 6:00 my contractions picked up in frequency and intensity. I decided to walk to the bathroom to brush my teeth and hair and freshen up a bit because I could tell that this was probably going to be the day my baby would be born. On my way to the bathroom my water broke with a contraction. My immediate reaction was panic because my first baby came very quickly after my water broke. I called out to my husband to call our midwife and doula and tell them my water broke, it was clear, and contractions were 8 minutes apart. The birth team was now on their way.
My water was leaking very heavily so I decided to put a pad on. I quickly leaked through that pad and went to go change it. As I changed it I noticed the baby had pooped because the color of the water on my pad was brown. I got nervous because of the amount of water I had leaked and the meconium so I called my midwife to let her know what was going on and that I thought my contractions were getting slower and less intense but that I wanted her to come and check on the baby because of the meconium and the amount of fluid I had lost. After hanging up the phone and getting up from the toilet I went to flush but I noticed a lot of fresh meconium in the toilet. It looked like I had pooped in the toilet but that was not the case. This meconium was not mixed in with amniotic fluid...it was fresh, very fresh. It was so fresh it smelled like a new baby and she wasn't even born yet.
I went to lay on the bed because I wanted my contractions to slow down and make sure I could feel her movement. Soon after laying on the bed my midwife arrived and she listened to her heartbeat. I then told her to go look in the toilet and when she came back I could tell we were both thinking the same thing. My baby was most likely breech. She performed an exam and I was 4cm but the presenting part was not a head but her bottom. She started listing out all my options at this point. The first was to go to one of the only hospital OB's in the area to deliver a vaginal breech baby. Second option was to immediately go to the hospital to have a c/s, and the third option was to call another midwife in the area with over 30 years of experience in out-of-hospital vaginal breech births to come and assess to see if I was a candidate to stay at home.
Our first option was quickly not an option because the doctor had left town that morning. So that meant stay at home or c/s. We chose to call the other midwife and she arrived and assessed my cervical dilation, baby's presentation, and asked about my history of giving birth. She said I was absolutely a perfect candidate to give birth to a breech baby at home. She listed the risks and benefits but also said she was not willing to do it if I was at all doubtful. I talked to my husband and we both felt very confident that we could all do this. During her cervical exam she told me I was 7cm. I went from 4cm to 7cm in 40 minutes with very few and not very intense contractions. At that point in time I had no doubt in my mind that we were going to stay at home and have a baby.
Once I made the decision to stay at home I decided to get out of bed and walk around to help her descend. After a little bit of walking I decided to take advantage of the birth pool and labor in there for a little bit. While in the birth tub I started having a few contractions that were more intense and started having feelings of pressure. My midwife wanted me to get out so we could check to see how she was descending. There wasn't much to check because once I stepped out and got into position on the bed my body started to push. The midwives instructed me to get on my hands and knees and allow my body and gravity to delivery the baby rather than to actively push. It was very difficult to not push while feeling that much pressure. I remember reading about a certain way to breathe to ease the baby out in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth so I started breathing like that through the contractions with guidance and support from my doula. Once I got into that rhythm of breathing it became a little easier. The midwives listened to her heartbeat very frequently and at one point decided it would be necessary to push a little bit. I could start to feel her slowly descend and deliver. Her bottom and legs came first, then her body and arms, and then her head. She was born at 10:22 am. Before we started pushing my midwives told me that it is very normal for babies born breech to be a little stunned and therefore not cry and breathe immediately. So when I didn't hear a cry immediately I didn't panic because I knew the cord was still attached and supplying her with some oxygen. Johnny and I also began to talk to her and touch her. They passed me her through my legs so I could hold her and try to get her to cry while another midwife held a little oxygen around her face. She slowly started to whimper and pink up once we talked to her and she quickly let out a good cry.
I couldn't believe how wonderfully everything went and that I had actually had a vaginal breech home birth. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever planned for or expected that I was capable of doing that. In a matter of 4 hours I went from being pregnant to laboring while making a very important decision and then to delivering a breech baby. My husband and I were both amazed. I'm so incredibly thankful for the knowledgeable midwives in my area, my doula, and my husband. I'm also thankful that I had gone to listen to Ina May Gaskin speak locally a few months prior to giving birth. I had read her books multiple times but listening to her in person was even better. At her presentation she showed a powerpoint of a first time mother having a vaginal breech birth and briefly talked about breech birth. I'm not sure I would have the confidence in myself if I had not read her books or listen to her stories. I hope in some way I can use my experience to help breech birth become an easier option for women.