I’m not sure why I haven’t written this out yet…it’s now 5 years post birth, but I thought I should get it down so one day he can re-read it. I know I will never forget it. Maybe I never fully shared the story because it’s a little unconventional, but I’m glad it was! Here it goes.
This little guy gave me a run for my money starting from the halfway point of pregnancy. When we went in for our 20 week appointment the ultrasound showed low lying placenta, which can be dangerous for you and your baby if it doesn’t move before birth.
At 28 weeks we went back to check on the placenta through ultrasound and it had moved up, which was wonderful news! What we didn’t know was that the combination of a low lying placenta moving up into the uterus and his short umbilical cord would not allow him to flip head down. At around 32 weeks my midwife checked to see where his head was, but every time they checked it was right up by my heart. Still today I think that because he is such a loving Mama’s boy, he just wanted to be close to my heart. So I went to work and started to research and learn about breech birth.
Breech birth these days means C-section almost 100% of the time. I really wanted to avoid a C-section unless it was absolutely necessary. I had a wonderful team of doulas and midwives who supplied me with endless research, books, and websites about how I could flip my little guy and understand what was needed for a successful breech delivery. So I became immersed in everything and anything I could do to spin this baby.
It was ALL I could focus on doing the last 8 weeks of pregnancy. I tried EVERYTHING – every day I would read successful breech birth stories and lay down upside down on an ironing board that was slanted from my bed to the ground. I took homeopathic medicine into consideration, I did acupuncture, and I even did Chinese medicine Moxibustion – where you burn an herb close to your baby toe to help flip the baby. I tried it all.
Favorite sites/ references:
At 38 weeks I even tried an external cephalic version where a doctor puts his or her hands on the outside of the mother’s belly and turns the baby into a head down position – it didn’t work. So I mentally started to prepare myself for a breech delivery. This involved a lot of visualization – a lot of crazy dreams.
One caveat to all of this – my midwife in Ohio could not (even in a hospital) deliver a “known breech” baby. So we had to find a doctor who would be willing to do it. We ended up finding a doctor with experience delivering breech babies who would be willing to deliver me breech as well. He said I was a good candidate because I was in good shape, this was my second pregnancy, and my first baby was under 7lbs. He told me it would have to be an all natural birth with no meds. And the kicker: he was leaving for vacation on July 1st. My estimated due date was July 5th. So basically have your child before then or you get an automatic C-section. Pressure is on! To give you context on where my mind was, Ella, our first child, was 5 days late, so I was kind of freaking out. And now instead of flipping this baby, I needed to try to get labor started (which I now know is NOT up to me!)
On Friday, June 26th with the suggestion of my doulas, I took caster oil to get things moving. It was awful. I was in the bathroom all day on Friday and no contractions came of it. Saturday, I had finally come to terms that this baby would come out how they want to come out and when they are ready. I just had to surrender to the unknown, which is something I’m not good at. To keep my mind off of labor we had fun at a local festival, the Hyde Park Blast bike riding event.
Sunday June 28th, (Labor day!) was very similar to how I went into labor with Ella. I took the 90 minute 7:30am yoga class at my studio. We went to 9:30 church and prayed to meet this little baby. Then went on a long walk up and down curbs (supposed to help with labor) with my two dogs and my friend Steph. Up and down the steep Cincinnati hills. Finally things were starting to happen!! I had made it to early labor, cramps had started — insert happy dance!
I then went to teach the 4pm class that day and told Greg I was in early labor but I’d still be fine to teach, just have a nice dinner ready for me when I got home. During our 90-minute hot yoga class I was doing a lot of deep squatting and people could tell things were happening. When I got home contractions were light and manageable but at least they were somewhat consistent coming every 7 minutes or so. We called the doula and she was at our house around 10pm.
Active Labor : Things started to pick up at around 11:30pm after watching some Alton Brown on the food channel and swiveling around on the med ball I had finally moved into active labor. Around 12:30am I got in the shower and it was a wonderful – waves were coming faster and lasting longer. We made it to the hospital around 2:30 am and I remember having 5 contractions just from the parking lot to the check in. Once there they wanted to check to make sure he was still head up – he was. I was 7cm when we arrived.
I remember being called the ‘breech birth’ room as nurses kept coming in and out. Around 5:30am a nurse checked and told me I was at 10cm. I had been working so hard talking and coaxing this little baby down that I was exhausted. It’s good to note that without the weight of the baby’s head pushing open the cervix it made it harder for my birth canal to open to 10cm. When we called the doctor in to check he said I was only at 8cm. I was defeated. I had 3 hours of intense contractions to only gain 1 cm. He said he could break my water to see if that would help and I said fine – but then it meant I was on the clock. Breaking my water gave me 1 more cm but I still wasn’t ready to push so I had to go back to work.
I went into the bathroom and my doula came with me. She was helping press on my back and I hung on to the grab bars and started to jump – yes jump up and down – hoping gravity would help…and it did. We might have even said a couple of hail Mary’s. After the bathroom I was tired and was only given one more hour to get to 10cm. The final tool that helped me was a thing called a Peanut. It’s a big orange thing shaped like a peanut and I put it in between my legs. It gave me the most intense contractions ever – a good thing it helped me get to 10cm! I was finally ready around 9am to help this baby enter this world!
Before the doctor delivered me he asked if others could watch because breech birth is rarely seen anymore. It’s a great learning experience for the hospital since it’s rarely taught anymore. I agreed. Close to 15 nurses and residents came into the room to watch a natural breech birth. It happened very quickly because it had to. I’m not sure I was allowed more than 5 minutes to get him out, so within two waves he was out. What I saw first was his bottom which pooped about a pound of meconium all over the doctor. A second wave helped the doctor guild out his legs, arms and his head. He was here! My little 6 lb boy, Arlo.
Most breech babies don’t score well on the APGAR test so he had to be taken away and put on oxygen to be monitored. This was the hardest thing for me, to not be able to do skin to skin right away with and nurse him. Not to mention that with all the hormones, I was a wreck. The nurses asked me to pump right away which brought my milk in fast. We were feeding him out of a syringe so that he could stay in his little bubble until one of the older nurses told me she was breaking the rules but she thought he would do better if we got some skin to skin and breastfeeding directly from mom. She was right, and almost immediately his stats improved – go figure! After he was off of oxygen and his blood pressure was normalized we got to take him to our room but he was a little jaundiced so we stayed an extra day in the hospital. It was Women’s World Cup so we snuck in some Dewey’s pizza and watched the games with my Mom and sister. A memory I won’t forget!
On Thursday July 2nd we got to bring him home and the rest is history.
I’m so thankful to have gotten to have this experience. I hope this encourages you to ask questions, trust your body, and put a good team in place that shares your views and trusts you. After going through this birth experience I’ve never felt more empowered.
Thank you for reading – if this birth story would help a mother you know please send it her way! It’s good to empower one another with positive stories.