I’m expecting baby #5 and am due in October. My midwife (who delivered 3 of my babies at home) is requesting all of my birth stories. I believe that birth is something very special and memorable. Since I enjoy reading other ladies’ birth stories, I thought I would share mine on my blog starting with Joshua my oldest.
At the time I was pregnant with Joshua my husband was stationed at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, TX. I had been receiving my prenatal care at a birthing center in Denton, TX. It was over an hour drive from where we lived but I was determined to have an all-natural birth. The midwives there were great and the birthing center was beautifully decorated. I had planned to have a water birth and the birthing center had a very nice birthing tub. It seemed like the perfect place to have a baby since my home was not an option at the time.
At my 36 week check-up my midwife felt the baby and said she was 90% sure that Joshua was in a breeched position. Later that day, an ultrasound confirmed that he was indeed breeched. The midwives at the Birthing Center informed me that in the state of Texas it is illegal for midwives to deliver a first time mother’s breeched baby outside of a hospital.
My midwife referred me to a doctor that was known for successfully delivering breeched babies. The doctor was a man which I was not comfortable with but he referred me to a female doctor that also delivered breeched babies. Before seeing the doctor, I had tried many natural things to turn the baby. I went to a special chiropractor who was known for turning breeched babies, I did acupuncture, handstands in a pool, lying on an elevated iron board, using a flashlight to guide the baby to the light, I applied ice to the top the baby’s head to move the baby down, and I commanded the baby to move down (okay, maybe this was taking it too far but I read it online and I was desperate) and nothing worked.
My doctor advised me to do an external version (a procedure to manually attempt to move the baby to a head down position) and if it was successful I could go back to the birthing center. I decided to try the external version. They were constantly monitoring the baby via ultrasound to ensure the baby would be fine. The doctor found that the baby was in a position where the cord was making it difficult to move the baby safely. The doctor informed me that she could continue trying to move the baby to a head down position but based on his position it would increase the risk of me going into immediate labor which would end in an emergency cesarean. So, I decided to not allow the external version to continue and we would plan to have the baby naturally at the hospital. I had wanted a natural labor badly and the midwife from the birthing center advised me to hire a doula that they knew. So, I hired a doula and she was very encouraging. She had told me that just a week before she was a doula for a lady at the same hospital I was going to and her baby was breeched. She said that she had an all-natural delivery which was a great encouragement to me.
On September 5, 2007 my husband and I went to church for the Wednesday night service. During the service I had a couple of contractions but nothing major. Once we got home I was unable to go to sleep because I was having mild contractions. I stayed up writing a letter to my grandmother until it got to a point where the contractions were very intense. I woke my husband up and we headed to the hospital. I called my doula and she said that she would meet me there. The drive was an hour and a half and very difficult while having contractions. We got to the hospital around midnight. I was admitted and checked and very disappointed that I was only dilated to 1 cm. My doctor said that she definitely thought I was in labor because I had an appointment the day before and when she checked me I was not dilated. My doctor was very kind and said she was not going to send me back home (since I was only in early labor) because she knew how far we came. They gave me a very nice delivery/recovery room. It was the nicest hospital I have ever seen. My room was decorated with wall paper, wood floors, the furniture was all cherry wood including the bed, and adjustable lights (not your average bright hospital lights). The hospital also encouraged me to eat and walk through labor. They provided me with a birthing ball and said when I was more dilated they would fill the birthing tub for me. One of my nurses advised me to walk the halls of the hospital so labor would progress. My doula went home to rest since I was still in early labor and it was very early in the morning. So, I began walking the halls and stopping between contractions. I remember telling my husband that I did not think that I could do this because I was only 1 cm and in so much pain. He said that I should go back to the room and ask to be checked. When the nurse checked me she was surprised and told me I was 6 cm dilated. I was greatly encouraged by this and was motivated to continue on. I called my doula and she came right away. At this point it was around noon. My doula tried to help my pain by massaging my back but I think she caught on that during labor I just rather be left alone. I took warm showers and sat on my birthing ball to help through contractions. I was checked again and they said I was around 7 cm. They filled the birthing tub and allowed me to labor in there however, I was not allowed to deliver in the tub since I had a breeched baby. Once I was in the water I felt so relaxed—it really is nature’s epidural. My doctor was walking by when she saw a nurse asking me to get out of the water so she could monitor the baby’s heart rate. The doctor was upset and told the nurse that it was cruel to make me get out of the water just to be checked and to go get the fetal monitor for the water. I really liked my doctor, she was very kind and made sure the nurses did not offer any pain medication which was written in my birth plan. When I was in early labor a nurse did an ultrasound to predict how big my baby was to see if a natural labor was an option. The nurse told my doctor that there was no way I was going to deliver this baby vaginally, that he was at least 9 lbs. However, my doctor told me that she saw the measurements the nurse took and did not think they were accurate. She predicted the baby to be much smaller. My doctor seemed very knowledgeable and fought for her patients.
The doctor told me she thought I should get out of the birthing tub and go back to my delivery room. She checked me and said I was about 9 ½ cm but the baby had not dropped at all which is common in breeched babies. My doctor advised me to walk the stairs of the hospital to get the baby to drop down. I did this for about thirty minutes and went back to be checked and I was the same (baby had not dropped). I started to tell my doctor and doula that I had the desire to push but they told me to not push, that the baby was not down so it could be dangerous. I started squatting to get the baby down and my water broke. The doctor checked again and said the baby dropped just a little and I needed to continue to try to get the baby to drop. I tried everything that I knew of for the next two hours (I had done extensive research about breeched deliveries) to get the baby to drop. Nothing availed and I was so sad that I wasn’t going to have a natural labor. The doctor came to me and said that she had seen this many times before where breeched babies get stuck high up. She advised me to get a cesarean but said she had no problem waiting because the baby was doing well and left it up to me. I said I would like to try for another 30 minutes and she agreed. At this point it was 9:00 pm and I had been in the hospital for a very long time. I still tried squatting through contractions and 30 minutes later the baby was still high up. They started to prepare for a cesarean and I was so sad and disappointed. My doctor tried to encourage me and told me for future pregnancies I would be a great candidate for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). She said that she would double suture my uterus which decreases your chance of having a uterine rupture in future pregnancies.
Joshua was born on September 6, 2007 at 11:04 pm. He weighed 7 lbs. 12 oz. and 20 inches long (not 9 lbs.!). The moment he was born they wrapped him in a blanket and handed him straight to my husband and told him to hold the baby up to my cheek while they finished my sutures. I will never forget him being close to my cheek and looking into his eyes, he was so precious. They finished quickly and wheeled me into a recovery room. I told the nurses I wanted to breastfeed right away. They helped position him and he breastfed very well. My recovery and stay in the hospital went well.
We were released two days later and went home. I remember being upset at my birth experience because it didn’t go as planned but I made the decision to not dwell on it and to be thankful that I had a healthy baby. I also had the hope of future all-natural births.
Things I Learned After Joshua’s Birth:
I have learned a lot from Joshua’s birth. I remember going to my lactation consultant when Joshua was a week old and she saw on his medical records he was born cesarean. She asked many questions about my labor and said that Joshua was very healthy and she usually sees a distinct difference between babies who are born cesarean/epidural verses all-natural. She said that he seemed very alert and that had she not known he was been born cesarean she would have guessed he had a drug-free natural birth. She attributed his health and alertness to me going all the way up to the cesarean naturally. So, I was thankful that at least I tried and I do believe that Joshua benefited from this.
I have also learned that although my doctor and hospital was very pro-natural-birth, they still do not have the experience of a good midwife. Later on, my midwife told me that when I was in labor and I felt the urge to push that I should have been doing small pushes through contractions to get the baby to drop. She explained that when babies are in the ideal position (head down) the weight of their head helps them to descend. In a breeched birth you don’t have the weight of the head and you have to work harder to get the baby to drop. My midwife also offers a special stool in labor designed for breech babies. She has delivered hundreds of breeched babies and even teaches seminars specialized on breech labors to other midwives. A common fear during breech labor is that the baby’s head can become stuck. My midwife says that if you have the experience and have an understanding of the way a breeched baby travels down the birth canal, this is near impossible. The baby’s head becomes stuck by doctors that don’t have the proper knowledge and experience.
Even though my first birth did not go the way I planned, I am thankful that the rest of our children were born naturally at home. So, if you have had a birth that ended in a cesarean don’t be discouraged. You can learn from your experiences and do the proper research to go on to have a successful birth.