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What drew you to choosing a midwife and natural labor?
Being a lover of all things natural and wholesome, I was not fond of the idea of having a hospital birth. I knew about water birth as a concept and knew that was what I wanted for my family. I found out from a friend that my insurance would cover a natural birth; she recommended her midwife and that was it! We had to move right when I found out I was pregnant, so the midwife I had called recommended another lovely lady in Sarasota.
How was your decision to home birth received by friends and family?
We are very tolerant and supportive in our family! My parents trust my judgment. If there was any ‘fear’ or insecurity about my choice it came from my partner and his father. When my partner found out that he was delivered by a midwife in a hospital and then subsequently visited the birthing home and met the staff, all his worries slipped right away. His father quickly followed suit.
What was your maternity care like during pregnancy?
It was fantastic! The birthing home was a dream and I entered the mommy-baby pipeline very quickly. I enjoyed an easy pregnancy with no complications.
Did you give much thought about possibly being transferred to a hospital?
I didn’t even think about it. Although in one of my birthing classes, the lady giving the class pointed at me and said that I could be one of the ones who was transferred. I simply dismissed that and ignored the idea of going to the hospital to ‘normalize’ it for myself in case I needed to transfer… Why would I need to think about a hospital when my heart was set on having a natural birth? I was so sure that it would work out my way. Those stories about the moms with problems and having to go to the hospital… Surely that would NEVER happen to me! I wanted the birth all those hip ladies talk about with the spiritual intensity and calm comforting space, bonding with my partner and letting my infant transition easily into the world with delayed cord clamping and midwives supporting me.
Do you mind sharing your daughter’s birth story with us?
“Our healthy baby girl was born at St. Pete’s Bayfront Babyplace on the 20th of September. Getting to surgery took some time as emergent mommies got pushed forward and I was the team’s last surgery for that shift as I was non-emergent… We waited from 9:30 to 5:00pm… It was a bit trying, the waiting. Once we got into surgery they got me numb and my partner was then brought in. Surgery was just that and I got horribly nauseated at the end… It was a gauntlet of sorts and I was terrified, excited, throwing up and completely in the moment. I remember it vividly and that amazing feeling when I first heard her cry and watched as they took her to the table to get looked at with daddy, who was with me until that point. Then came the mountain to climb; as they finished up, the nausea got worse and it was hard to enjoy the moment. After five different nausea medications, the nurse anesthetist could not make my nausea any better and I threw up several times as they were finishing me up. She was born out of my womb and into the world at 5:37pm, and she was in my arms by 6:20, breastfeeding like a champ! The staff at the hospital and the facilities were amazing. We were discharged within about 30 hours which is unheard of in their hospital as they regularly stick with 72 hours as a policy, but I healed so well that they were just giving me pain management and nothing else. So we were discharged at around 2pm on the 22nd! I am so thankful for this experience! Due to the breech position, Andrea’s head had molded into a strange shelf in my rib cage and ended up with a 14” head circumference. I am not sure how a vaginal birth would have worked out! Since then I have been healing REALLY well and my only complaint is the discomfort caused from the catheter. The pain is there but greatly outweighed by the joy and sheer bliss of being with my daughter who is the cutest and most healthy little baby! I consider myself lucky for having such a positive birth experience and I am thankful for all the outpouring of support from my friends, family, and the community I have surrounded myself with throughout my pregnancy. I need to go feed now! Everything is running smoothly as baby and mommy are showing excellent postpartum health. Thank you all for reading my birth story as it has been VERY beneficial to be able to share the experience and understand that I am not the first and will not be the last. In our case, I am still unsure of the necessity of the cesarean or not… It worked out for our family just the way it happened and for that I am ever so grateful to the universe. I do vow to continue being involved in the birthing community and with ICAN because it has enriched my life and showed me parts of me that I never knew I had! Womanhood and mommy-hood, here I come! I really must thank both sets of grandparents as they have shown us unlimited kindness and support throughout the pregnancy and they were all present at the hospital during my birth!”
I wrote that on the 28th of September, 2012, just six days after my sweet baby was born… I see now that my extreme positivity was hiding my incredible pain at not having the birth I dreamed of.
Just a little back story so you understand how I got to a c-section: I remember going to my 34-week appointment and the midwife having a hard time finding the head of my baby. The other midwife was not available and there was no one else to check; the heartbeat seemed to be consistent with a head down position so the midwife sent me home and told me we would figure it out the week after. That week (35) there was another mommy in labor and they rescheduled me for the following week (as per my request, since there was no emergency and I didnt feel the need to come in the next day). When I went in for my 36-week appointment, the midwife told me I was breech and told me we needed to do an ultrasound to confirm. After confirming that I was frank breech at 37 weeks (both feet up with head up), I was devastated when the midwife told me she could no longer legally care for me in the pregnancy. I then spent the next few weeks going through all manner of feelings as I went through all the motions to turn the baby, because going out of state was not an option easily attainable for us. I did flips every day in the small pool we had at the apartment, crawled on all fours, meditated on my baby turning, talked to my baby, did acupuncture with moxibustion, craniosacral therapy (I couldn’t afford that and I was lucky the practitioner gave me a free session), and went to a chiropractor who did the Webster Technique on me… but my baby never turned. 🙁 At around 38 weeks I went in for my NST/BPP (non stress test and biophysical profile) and I was told that my baby was doing great… But then an OB/GYN started putting pressure on me to schedule. I left the hospital “against medical advice,” irate after they told me that I was doing great and my baby was healthy. Due to my partner’s grueling work schedule and our families being so far away, I went most of this process alone. We finally did an external version which turned out to be a nightmare. The doctor was brutal and forceful not easing into it. I left the procedure with my heart broken and my partner trying to comfort me. In addition to trying to turn the baby, I called many OB/GYNs and tried my best to find a practitioner that would help me have a vaginal breech delivery; but once I did find one, he was too far away for us. I pretty much gave up after having an intense contraction at 39 weeks… I was ready to schedule. I figured that I was alone at home and if anything happened to me, no one would be there to help me. I finally decided that a c-section was what was going to happen and I went to a hospital that I selected because of their brand new state of the art maternity wing and their great track record. Part of the decision was based on fear and a huge part was me being done with all the stress and just wanting it to be over. I was not mentally or emotionally prepared to go through an emergent situation in a hospital with a breech baby.
What was the hardest part of your experience?
The hardest part of my experience is letting it be. It’s so easy to drive myself nuts with the whys and the wherefores, but at the end of the day I had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. I should be happy, right? No such luck… I should say I am happy about my daughter but I cannot seem to process my feelings of disappointment about the birth outcome. It’s like a grieving process and I have not figured it out yet, about 11 months down the line. My feelings were recently triggered by another mama who is going through the same process. I gave her my number, she called and I offered her advice and an ear. Here I am writing this story hoping that it will help me heal the deep pain that I feel for not having the birth I wanted for myself and my family.
What do you wish you would have known in retrospect?
I wish I had planned for this. I wish I had paid more close attention to what was happening. I ate right, exercised and did my best for my baby. But I was absolutely unaware that midwives in Florida were unable to practice delivering ,breech births. The most important thing I could have known was that it was possible that I could be one of the 4% of women who have babies presenting in breech positioning after 37 weeks and that midwives are forced by the law to release those mommas into the care of an OB/GYN. If I had known I would have planned for it.