I went into my second pregnancy thinking natural all the way. I had the certified nurse midwife and the natural childbirth classes. My son, however, had a different plan! 2 weeks before he was due, he presented as a footling breech at my routine weekly exam. The midwife was greatly concerned when she felt that little heel in my cervix but said that there were some exercises I could do and we would schedule a manual version. Not to worry.
Well, the exercises and the version didn’t quite work. He did manage to fold his legs up into the frank position, but I was certain I did not need a C-section. He was not transverse, the cord was not wrapped. We had kept checking on things with the ultrasound every few days at my checkups. My midwife made no promises, but told me she would do her best to find an overseeing OB who would work with us on a vaginal breech birth. She had attended a few and was familiar with it, but the hospital required the attending physician to be experienced in them and very comfortable with the situation.
I had Braxton-Hicks off and on for 3 days before my water finally broke late one night. And even though they tell you its never like it is in the movies, it was just like it was in the movies! A Great Big Gush! LOL! At the hospital, they let me labor into transition on a birthing ball, still hoping he would move. Which he didn’t! However, since he was in the frank position they agreed to let me try to have him “normally” as long as I had an epidural first so that if there were complications, they could go straight to surgery. I was thrilled they were going to let me try and we went for the smallest dose of epidural I was allowed to get.
In the delivery room, I had to listen to my midwife very carefully and only push when she said and only push as long as she counted because it was very important for her and the OB to control how he came out due to the position of the head and not knowing how the cord would be positioned coming down the canal. In the end, everything went smoothly. He came out genitalia first! ;-) He rolled right out. We paused long enough at his shoulders for them to unwrap the cord and then his head came out as both my midwife and the OB supported his body so that his neck wasn’t torqued the wrong way. He popped my tail bone from the angle that his head came out, but that was a small price to pay for a perfect breech birth! I was calm and in control the entire time with my supportive husband and midwife right there and I was not being threatened at all sides with a C-section like I was so afraid I would be. I didn't get my water birth, but I was spared a C-section and given a rare opportunity at a vaginal breech birth that went just fine!
I wish all hospitals would allow women this option. But first they have to start training them to deliver breech births!
Virginia L. Mills
(Sean was born in Richmond, VA. May 24, 2004 at MCV Hospital.)