Below are real life stories submitted by people around the world for our recently published Article – Evidence on: Breech Babies.
My first girl was breech and I researched and tried every spinning babies technique, chiro trained in Webster, everything. I considered a version, but my OB was very up front with me and said she only ever assisted with one external version in her trainings and if baby went into distress I’d have to deliver that day (35 weeks). I decided to pass because I didn’t think it was worth risking my baby being born prematurely, and I felt she wasn’t experienced enough I tree technique to guarantee the outcome. I later found out a obgyn/midwife team locally did successful versions all the time. I never heard of them before. However I was under their care for my second pregnancy (not breech) and hired a doula. I had my second baby via hospital midwife led vbac after being induced at 41.5wks.
Twin A delivered vaginal. Following twin A I had a sonogram to confirm twin B was breech, then a shot of terbutaline. Twin B was then external turned to vertex presentation and delivered 55 minutes after twin A.
My mother often reminded me growing up, that I was a breech baby and the reason she has a c-section bikini scar. This lingered in the back of my mind during my own pregnancy, while I planned my birth center birth. During a brief ultrasound at 36 weeks, my midwife confirmed that the baby was breech and I sensed a bit of history repeating itself. I attempted everything from acupuncture, to moxibustion, swimming, and some uncomfortable inversions on a plank with a bag of frozen pea on my belly. None of these techniques worked for me, so we scheduled an ECV at 38+ weeks. I wanted to do everything I could to avoid a c-section and weighing out the pros and cons, we went for it. Unfortunately, after two attempts, it was clear, the baby was not turning. As it turns out, I was already in early labor and our son was born later that night. When I found out I was pregnant with our second baby, I had every hope that I could have a VBAC and could more easily care for my toddler after the baby was born. I broke down in tears at my 36 week appointment upon hearing the word breech again. Initially, I was advised that an ECV is not recommended for women with prior c-sections, but fortunately, a friend of mine helped me navigate the recent medical literature so I was able to be a better advocate for my care. Then, my midwives found an OB who believed it was also worth a try. This second ECV also was also unsuccessful, so I went home, bruised, but hoping for the best after scheduling a family centered cesarean. Another healthy baby boy was born at 39 weeks.
At 36 weeks in my first/only pregnancy my midwife and consulting OB suggested a version as the baby was in a breech position. (My mother delivered me and my older brother vaginally breech, although my eldest brother was not.) The version was unsuccessful, as were chiropractics, acupuncture, yoga, and laying daily on an inclined ironing board (you can fall down a serious ‘hole’ on the internet when you start googling how to get a breech baby to turn!). An elder OB at a neighboring hospital regularly delivers breech babies vaginally, as he was trained to do in med school long ago, which the providers at my excellent local hospital were not permitted to attempt. With their blessing I went to see him at 38 weeks, and he agreed to take me on as a patient and that he thought a vaginal delivery was possible.
In the early morning about five days before my due date I began to feel contractions, but convinced they were either Braxton-Hicks or that I’d be laboring for a long time, I went to work as a teacher all day, “dancing” a bit in front of my students and leaning on the counter for breaks when they were strong. At home around supper time they pains became more intense, and we loaded up to head to the hospital. During the 40 minute drive my water broke, I felt the uncontrollable urge to push, and we were pulled over for speeding (the trooper ended up giving us permission to go 85 and an escort). I was met at the car by my OB who listened to my scream and said “sounds like we’re in the final stages,” then checked me and found me to be 10 cm dilated. My daughter, Cornelia (V) Rose, was born 30 minutes later, frank breech, head up. My husband, who is a chef, said “she looked like a roaster chicken” coming out with her legs folded up to her head! There were no complications except a small hemangioma which appeared in the first week on the back of her head.
Hi, I am so happy to be able to share the story of my daughter’s breech homebirth. You can read about it on the Birth Without Fear blog here and also I talked about it on the Birthful podcast here. I did attempt the ECV and the procedure did not work. The experience at the hospital reaffirmed for me why I was planning a home birth and needed for that to happen, regardless of my baby’s position (as long as things were deemed to be safe). The hospital staff was heartless and rude and when the procedure failed one of the nurses snarkly reminded me to follow up to schedule the c-section. The procedure itself wasn’t terrible to be honest but the meds that sped up my heart and the baby’s heart made me feel like I wasn’t doing what was best for my baby. I felt trapped into attempting the ECV (and into having a c-section if the procedure failed) and it was so unnecessarily stressful for me to feel like I couldn’t have the home birth I desired simply because my baby chose to be in a position that is a variation of normal.
I remember going to my doctor as early as 30 weeks and having her feel around and say, “I think this baby is breech” but gently explained that babies move all the time. Well, every appointment after, little one was still feet down, despite my trying every home remedy I could think of: yoga, flashlights and music between my legs, laying inclined, doing heard stands in the pool, walking a ton. At 37.5 weeks, my doctor and I decided to try an ECV and it works like a charm! Baby was born a week later without complications.
For 34 weeks my sweet baby was head down for every single ultrasound. At 34 weeks you can clearly feel when your baby flips, he (we didn’t know the sex) was very active one night, so active that I turned my bedside light on at what had to of been around 2am and my husband and I just watched and recorded the activity. Low and behold at my 34 week appointment, a few days later confirmed that he was indeed breech and we scheduled an ultrasound to confirm. I was on Google and YouTube for days watching and reading on how to flip my now stubborn little sweetie back over. I did all the odd and crazy techniques, I even tried eating a spicy meal to get him moving around but nothing worked. Up until this point I was under the care of the amazing midwives at the hospital I was planning to deliver at. They suggested that I meet with one of the doctors in the office just to discuss my options and to consider having a version. I remember watching videos on how this was done and having a lot of concerns, most of the videos seemed very flawless, painfree and peaceful in a sense but after learning from the doctor that I met with that I would need a spinal to help numb any pain of discomfort and the procedure would be done in the operating room in the event that things don’t go as planned was enough to terrify me. My husband and I took a week to discuss and weigh our options and ultimately decided that it was worth the risk to give it a try in the hopes that I could deliver my baby without a cesarean section. Although I had a lot of fears and don’t really think I was 100%on board with the decision I was willing to give it a shot.
We scheduled the version to take place at 37 weeks 5 days. We walked in on a rainy Sunday morning, were whisked away to the prep/recovery area where we ended up waiting for my blood pressure to go down, after an iv and 4 rounds of blood pressure drips my blood pressure was not budging. My doctor came in and suggested we head on back and get started. I was wheeled back and given the spinal, which I have to say was the most awful thing I’ve ever experienced. My husband came back and sat right next to me, as close as he possibly could. It was so nice that in a room of complete chaos he was the only thing I saw. He gently caressed my face as my Midwife stood behind him holding my hand. They announced that they were going to go ahead and get started, a doctor on either side of me pushing with all their might in opposite directions. I will never forget the look on my husband’s face as he bravely took his eyes off of me and looked at what they were doing. He instantly turned white and I thought he might pass out. He would look at my belly then back at me a few times before we locked eyes again and I told him that I needed him to stay strong. It was at that moment that he stopped watching them. Even with the spinal I could feel a lot of pressure, it felt as if I had two adult bodies laying on top of my pregnant belly. It lasted for what felt like 5 minutes before my blood pressure crashed after being extremely high all morning. Along with that my baby’s heart rate dropped and I started vomiting. I remember while I was vomiting the doctor saying that they were going to take the baby, I was terrified at that point and before I knew it he was out at 1:39pm. It’s a boy! They screamed as they rushed him to the back corner of the operating room where they hooked him up to monitors. He started screaming and in that moment everything disappeared, the sounds, the people, the chaos. It felt like I was without him forever, my husband finally brought him over to me where we immediately did skin on skin for the remainder of the time that I was in the OR amd recovery. I was in such a complete daze with my son that I never even noticed that my Midwife was taking pictures. I didn’t look at her for any of them, my eyes are closed in every one and every time I look back at those photos it takes me back to that place and time where nothing in the world mattered but the sweet feels, smells and sounds of my precious baby. It was the furthest thing from the birth I had hoped for but it was also the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. A birth story can’t be planned but it can be lived to its fullest.
I have had two breech babies and two versions. Along with the versions, I was doing all of the things to help flip a breech (swimming, spinning babies, chiro, moxibustion, acupuncture, Hypnobabies, etc).
With my first son, we went in for the version at 37 weeks. The doctor tried for 20 minutes, it was rather uncomfortable and I ended up quite bruised. With each attempt, the baby would turn half-way, and then flip right back into his comfy, footling position. A week later, my water broke and I went into labor. He was not tolerating contractions well at all and we had an emergent c-section. It turns out his umbilical cord was 4x around his neck. Even though I had wanted a natural birth, I was very thankful for that c-section and my healthy baby!
Fast forward two years: I was pregnant with another breech baby and hoping for a VBAC. The same doctor had us come in for a version around 38 weeks. It was successful! After about one minute, the doctor stopped to ultrasound my belly and confirmed that my baby was head down. I couldn’t believe how fast and easy it was compared to my previous experience! This baby stayed head down and about a week later, I went into spontaneous labor and delivered my second son naturally. I was so happy to have had a VBAC and the recovery was so much better than the c-section.
When I was 34 weeks pregnant we found out my baby was breech. Our midwife referred us to a doctor to perform a version. We decided we wanted every possible chance for our baby to be born naturally, so we did the version. At 37 weeks the doctor attempted 3 times to turn my baby without success. About a week and a half later my water broke and I was able to have a vaginal breech delivery.
My baby was breech all along. I had planned a home waterbirth. I tried the version at 37 weeks but had many factors against me- anterior placenta, nuchal arm and doubling footling breech. The version was unsuccessful. Moxibustion made the baby move around A LOT but no turning. I had a c-sec at 39 weeks so I wouldn’t go into labor.
It turns out I only had half of a uterus, a unicornuate uterus. There was no room to turn!
At 40 weeks +1 day I went for what I hoped would be my last OB appointment before baby arrived. Hubby had offered to go with me to the appointment and I told him not to. There was no point. This was just a regular check and there would be nothing he could or needed to do. I would come to greatly regret that decision. I consented to the cervical check and allowed her to strip my membranes in hope that maybe that would give baby some motivation to vacate my uterus. After my OB stripped my membranes she said that she wasn’t sure if what she was feeling was baby’s head or baby’s butt. I was floored. A sick, sinking feeling started in my stomach. She sent me for an ultrasound, just to check. As soon as the ultrasound tech placed the wand on my belly, I knew. Baby was breech. Her bottom was firmly engaged in my pelvis and her feet were facing my left side. I burst into tears as the ultrasound tech checked my fluid levels and commented on how much hair that baby had. I was devastated. My worst fears were coming true. My OB came into the exam room and started talking about my options. She knew how much I wanted a natural birth and offered to do an EVC (external cephalic version) where they manually attempt to turn the baby externally. Knowing my options were that and a cesarean I enthusiastically agreed. She offered for me to come back around 5 pm that night and have it done or to wait and come in on Saturday morning and attempt. I initially wanted to come back that evening and have it done, but after talking to Hubby and Hannah on the phone, decided that waiting until the morning would be the best option. We would all be rested and better prepared, no matter the outcome. My OB felt that there was a good chance the ECV would be successful since I was in good shape and the baby had plenty of amniotic fluid. If the ECV was successful she could either bind my abdomen to help baby stay put in the correct position and send me home or induce me while baby was head down. She also discussed that I would be a prime VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) candidate if the ECV failed and I had to have a cesarean.
I left and drove myself home, where Hubby met me and sent the babysitter who was watching A home. We sat and waited for my parents to arrive as they were to take care of A during the birth. Hannah, the doula, came over that evening. She showed us videos of vaginal breech birth and discussed that it was an option. She told me of an OB who was 2 hours away who delivered breech babies vaginally. This was the first I had ever heard of a vaginal breech birth. Every other person I had known who had a breech baby had a C-section. I honestly assumed that prior to the development of the cesarean that breech babies and their mother just died. It wasn’t until that night that I learned that breech positioning was just a variation of normal.
That night we also went to see a midwife. Now, prior to this, I thought midwives were frizzy haired hippies who lived in the woods and worshiped wood nymphs. How surprised was I to drive into the SAME neighborhood that one of my good friends lived in and to a totally normal brick home. The midwife didn’t have frizzy hair and she didn’t look like a hippie. She looked like an average woman in her mid to late 30s. She sat with us and listened to what was going on with us. Three years later I can’t remember everything she discussed with us, but I know that I felt so relaxed and calm with her in her home. In fact by the end I even allowed her to attempt to turn my baby. I didn’t even hesitate when she asked me if I wanted her to try, I just said yes. She was able to get baby to shift some, but not much. The process wasn’t painful at all. We were all very calm and relaxed, except for maybe Hubby who was sitting on the love seat wondering who or what had possessed his very medically minded wife to consent to midwifery care.
By the time we finished with the midwife, it was very late. We went home and started to prepare for the next day. I had cried so much that day that a migraine was fast approaching. Hubby had ground coffee in preparation for the next day and the smell was making me sick. I went into our bedroom with my laptop and began to research the OB that lived 2 hours away and did vaginal breech births. I found that he took my insurance and considered switching to him. The only problem was that I knew NOTHING about this man and he was a man. The idea of a male OB made me very uncomfortable. I knew that trying to switch to him this late in my pregnancy could be difficult, but possible. In the end Hubby and I decided that our best option was to stay with my current OB and continue with the current plan of care. We went to bed…well Hubby went to bed. I lay there and couldn’t sleep. I was up and down. I still felt sick from the coffee smell and had a migraine. I spent all that night crying and throwing up in the bathroom. At 4 am I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and calm come over meI finally was able to lie down and get about 45 minutes of sleep before we had to be up and getting ready to go to the hospital.
Our precious adopted Grandmother from church came to stay with A while my parents went with us to the hospital. When we arrived, they checked us into a room and started the process. A nurse came in and attempted to place an IV. I have great veins, but she sucked at placing IVs and I remember my blood all over the floor and bed. Once that was finally in, the anesthesiologist came in to place my epidural. We had the option to do the ECV without an epidural, but after much research the day before we decided to get the epidural. The studies I found indicated that the EVC was more likely to be successful with the epidural because I wouldn’t be able to tense up and resist the doctor’s attempts to turn the baby. The epidural placement was rough. It took 2 attempts for the anesthesiologist to get it placed correctly. The first time he hit a nerve and shooting pains went down my left leg. It was excruciating. The second attempt was successful and we were left to wait for the OB.
My OB came in with her partner at the time to attempt the ECV. Baby’s heart rate was monitored with a fetal Doppler and ultrasound was used to determine baby’s position and the best way to turn him or her. At that point I was convinced that baby was a boy so I mentally talked to “Owen” the whole time. I begged him to turn and cooperate. Maybe that’s why E refused to turn, she was angry I thought she was a boy. The OBs tried 3 times to turn the baby. After the 3rd attempt, baby’s heart rate plummeted but quickly recovered. My OB asked me what I wanted to do. At that point I knew it was pointless, but I asked them to try 1 more time. She did, but alas it was not to be. I was not in charge. I remember phone calls to the OR being made, a scrub cap being placed on my head, scrubs being handed to Hubby, hasty goodbyes being spoken to my parents, and me being wheeled into the coldest room I had ever been inside.
Once in the OR the nurses and techs quickly began the preparation for my C-section. Since I already had the epidural, I couldn’t feel my legs. The anesthesiologist began giving me additional medications. I was nervous because I could feel my abdomen and I was afraid I wouldn’t be properly numb. They assured me everything was fine. My OB entered with her partner and the surgery began. I could smell burning flesh as they opened me up and cauterized blood vessels. Hubby and my doula entered not long after they began and took their places at my head. I was terrified that Hubby would pass out during the surgery. He doesn’t handle blood and medical procedures well. He was a champ though.
A cesarean is a surreal experience, I couldn’t feel any pain, but I did have the sensation of lots of tugging a pulling as they removed E. (I want to write “as she was born,” but that doesn’t seem like the right wording. So “as they removed” it will remain.) After E was out, it took them a few minutes to announce the gender and for us to get to see her. I think she cried immediately, but I honestly don’t remember. I do remember them commenting on her hair. They weighed her, wrapped her like a tiny burrito, and handed her to Hubby. He held her by my face and I kissed her. I couldn’t stop staring at her. In every picture we have from the OR, I’m desperately looking at her or for her, never at the camera. She was so sweet…and then she was gone, whisked away to the nursery with Hubby to wait for me. My doula was also told to leave by one of the surgical assistants. I remember her asking me if that was ok and I remember saying yes, even though it wasn’t what I had planned for or wanted to happen. I still to this day have no idea why I said yes. Why I didn’t say “no, please stay” and fight for my right to not be alone in the OR. She left and I was alone in a room of strangers.
The anesthesiologist talked to me occasionally, but mostly I got to overhear my OB talk to her partner about her personal life. How her cat had kittens and what her husband thought about it. Never did they address me. I was just the face behind the blue curtain, the face that went with the uterus they were putting back together. Why would you talk to the face?
At some point the anesthesiologist swapped out with another anesthesiologist. The new one stood in front of me next to the blue curtain and really did talk to me. It was nice that he wanted to talk to me. It was unfortunate that his glasses reflected my open abdomen as my OB and her partner put me back together.
At some point they finally finished putting me back together again and I was wheeled into recovery. A single nurse was there to care for me. I remember asking for my baby repeatedly. I wanted skin to skin time. I wanted to nurse my newborn. I vaguely remember something about needing to wait for an hour. It felt forever for her to get Hubby and E, but finally they came. I got to hold my baby for the first time. E was gorgeous with a cute little button nose. I attempted to nurse her, but I struggled. I didn’t know how to get the best latch since I couldn’t sit up. I asked for my doula to come back, but was told if she did that Hubby would have to leave. How do you make that decision? I wanted them both. I asked Hubby to let Hannah come back and he gracefully agreed. She came back and got E and I all set for nursing. The rest of that day is a blur. I remember people coming to visit and my legs being incredibly itchy as the morphine they gave me wore off. But, beyond that I don’t remember much.
My recovery in the hospital was what I would consider typical for a cesarean delivery. There was pain and re-learning to do simple things like get out of bed. I stayed in the hospital for 3 days and then went home.
I thought my recovery at home was going well until Hubby and I went to my 1 week postpartum visit at my OBGYN’s office. I had some very mild redness and swelling near the right side of my incision and was concerned that it might be starting to get infected. My OB came in and pressed on my incision and bit and then encouraged Hubby (who can be squeamish) to leave the room for a minute. She grabbed several blue hand sized towel and a cotton swab on a wooden stick, you know…the long ones. She then proceeded to push at the side of my incision with the cotton swab. The next thing I knew fluids were pouring out of my incision. That’s not an exaggeration either. She continued to push the swab farther into my incision until she felt the fluid was drained. You can imagine how painful it was. She explained that I had a seroma. Basically my top layer of skin had healed, but that there was a pocket beneath my skin that hadn’t healed. That pocket would continuously fill with fluid until the pocket was able to heal. I would need to have it drained daily and packed with gauze so that it could heal. Once things were adequately drained she attempted to pack my wound with ½ inch sterile gauze. The opening to my incision was very narrow and the gauze was too big to be packed inside. She sent me home with plans for a home health nurse to come later that day to attempt to pack my incision with smaller gauze.
When the home health nurse arrived that afternoon, she was wearing street clothes, which was surprising. She had me lie down on the twin bed in E’s nursery while she pulled out all of her supplies and set them on the sterile drape on the bed. She then pulled out 1 inch gauze to pack my incision with. I told her that they had tried to use ½ inch gauze at the office and that the doctor wanted her to try ¼ inch gauze. She attempted to use the 1 inch gauze, which obviously didn’t work. The pain was horrendous. Imagine someone using a large cotton swab to push 1 inch gauze into a hole the size of a lima bean. It’s as bad as it sounds. I told her to stop and she called her supervisor and asked what she should do. The supervisor told her to go to the pharmacy and purchase either smaller sterile gauze or sterile scissors to cut the larger gauze to a size that would fit. She then proceeded to take her sterile drape and place it on top of E’s changing pad (probably one of the least sterile places in our home) next to the bed. Then she went to the pharmacy.
When she returned, she told me that they didn’t have smaller sterile gauze at the pharmacy, so she got some scissors. Then she pulled out cardboard backed bandage scissors (NOT STERILE) and proceeded to wipe them off with an alcohol swab. At this point my internal alarms were blaring, but I thought that she must know what she was doing since she was the professional. She then cut the 1 inch gauze with the scissors and attempted to pack the smaller piece into my incision. It didn’t work either. The pain was too intense and I couldn’t handle it. She then called my doctor’s office and they told her to just leave it and for me to come back in the following day. The nurse left me with a thermometer and told me to take my temperature in the morning and night and to call my doctor immediately if it was over 100.
That night I talked with my father in law who is a doctor and deals with wound care regularly. He said if the incision was too small to pack that I shouldn’t let them make the opening larger (something discussed by my OB earlier that day). He recommended that they continue to drain it and monitor the healing. That was encouraging and I felt much better about the prognosis. My doula also came over that night and brought Dunkin Donuts. She listened to me decompress and was an amazing shoulder to cry on about my birth experience and what was going on.
The next morning when I got up, I took my temperature. It was 101. When I looked at my incision, the small amount of redness on the right side of my incision had grown to ½ inch of redness all around my entire incision. As soon as my OB’s office opened, I called and made an appointment. My mother in law took E and I to the doctor and a close friend watched A. By the time we got to the doctor’s office, the redness had grown to over an inch out from my entire incision. My OB took one look at the incision and looked at me. I looked at her and said “I’m going back to the hospital aren’t I?” She said yes. My next concern was keeping E with me so that we could continue breastfeeding. I told her I wouldn’t go without E. She didn’t think that the hospital I delivered at would allow me to keep the baby, so she called another large hospital in the area. They initially agreed and my mother in law drove us to the hospital. While in the parking lot we got a call that they wouldn’t admit me to the postpartum floor since I hadn’t delivered there and that I would need to go to the other hospital. They had agreed to allow me to keep E with me. We went back and got readmitted.
I spent 7 nights in the hospital. I was on IV antibiotics for most of that time. Everyone who entered my room had to wear a yellow isolation gown and gloves; even E had to be wrapped in a gown before I breasted her or even touched her. I endured countless IVs because the antibiotics I was on would render each IV site unusable after 1 infusion. I have great veins, but the nurses on the postpartum floor weren’t used to placing IVs and they wouldn’t allow the labor nurses to come into my room because they didn’t know what type on infection I had. By the end of my stay I refused to allow the postpartum nurses to place IVS and would request a nurse from the ER or the head nurse to come and place them. I endured rashes and skin yeast infections from the number of antibiotics I was on. I was confined to a tiny room with my husband and baby. I even spent my birthday in the hospital. By the time I was discharged, I had learned to do my own wound care, including inserting that 6 inch long cotton swab into my incision twice a day to drain it. I would go on to do this for 2-3 additional weeks at home. There’s much more to this part of the story, but I’ll stop here for now.
Physically I healed from my cesarean within a month; mentally I would go on to struggle with postpartum aggression/anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from my cesarean and the hospital stay for 2 years. I didn’t bond with E until she was almost 18 months old. My cesarean took so much from me, but it also changed me for the better. I’m stronger now. My voice is firmer and more knowledgeable when I make medical decisions for myself and my children. I advocate for other women on a daily basis so that they will be educated and equipped more than I was when I had E. I’m advocating with women to make changes in my community and changes are happening.
To learn more about big babies, read our article on the Evidence on: Breech Babies.