It was quite a shock to discover that this baby was in a not so convenient breech position. I somehow had anticipated a quick birth after my first son’s really smooth, straightforward birth in the pool at the midwife led unit. The sonographer and midwife who confirmed the breech position discussed options, and not wanting to leave a stone unturned I opted for an ECV. Awaiting this appointment, Karin spent a lot of time helping me to understand how to best encourage the baby to turn, and which websites to consult, and I saw an acupuncturist to use moxibustion. Somehow, I was convinced that the baby would turn or be turned, and everything would go ahead as planned.
But life is full of surprises and this little baby was firmly sitting bottom down and head high; nothing and nobody would encourage him to change position. After the unsuccessful ECV attempt, my heart sank. However, the consultant sat me down and presented my choices: a trial of labour or a planned c-section. He discussed each of the options in detail, risks and uncertainties, but in his mind, there were - in principle - no obvious risk factors from my or baby’s side and although the numbers of planned vaginal breech births are low, the hospital has the experience and expertise to allow you to go through providing staff is on hand. It was a lot to process, and I cannot thank the consultant enough for offering me another appointment to discuss everything again a few days later, or book a c-section if that was what I would decide to do.
I spent the following days on the internet trawling Pubmed, breech forums, etc., speaking to a private midwife who had helped during many vaginal breech births, a paediatrician friend, my family, and husband.
Karin from Birthwise was hugely supportive, open minded, calm, just positive which ever the choice I was going to make. There was no sense of how I should do it, just support in working out what my decision would be, right for my body, heart, and mind.
At the repeat appointment at the RD&E, my husband was present too, and we decided to go for a trial of labour and book a preliminary date for a c-section 11 days after the due date (as the risk increases with bigger babies, and inductions are contraindicated for breech position). I had the opportunity to discuss the actual plan with a senior midwife who was very respectful of my wishes such as a portable telemetry, analgesia, my choice of upright positioning which seems beneficial in vaginal breech deliveries. She did point out that should they need to interfere I would need to lie down as this is the way they are trained to do it and that there may be a whole bunch of personnel in the room.
I trusted that the team at the RD&E would do everything to keep me and the baby safe and appreciated the honesty of our discussion. There was an immense sense of relief, and although moments of tension and anxiety overcame me over the next few days, they passed again.
The due date came and went.
My sister arrived look after our little boy. I suspect that having all pawns in place just allowed me relax sufficiently, and I felt things moving along, the first twinges, contractions still relatively far apart and short but regular.
On Saturday evening, the midwife at the labour ward encouraged me to come in for an assessment, probably earlier than I would have done otherwise. So when we were greeted by a lovely registrar and midwife with a cup of tea/water at around 11pm, I was 7-8cm dilated with the cervix starting to efface.
The senior midwife introduced herself to chat about my birth plan which I considered a rough guide to communicate my wishes. She, too, discussed with me the possibility of interventions if they were required. To me, above all, the health of my baby and me was paramount, so should the team have recommended I would have wholeheartedly gone with their assessment of the situation to make optimal use of their skills in a potentially tricky situation. They knew and respected my wish to stay upright with minimal interference as long as labour progressed well - and I knew that they would not have suggested it unnecessarily. I also got a little pep-talk - in a nutshell - it will be fine!
When we were transferred to a bigger room, my waters broke. I was connected to the wireless telemetry unit to monitor the baby and my contractions. I found the whooshing of the baby's heart quite calming and we were left to settle with my midwife. The clocks changed to summer time. At around 3.15, I started to find it harder to cope with the contractions and used Entonox. As the baby’s head became visible, the midwife went to get the team. I was facing away from the doors, on my knees, completely unaware who was standing behind me. To me, it felt like being in a bubble with the registrar, senior midwife, midwife and husband. I moved positions a few times, and at some point, there was this familiar feeling, there was the bottom and the legs, the arms and with the next contraction the head, a wriggle and a cry.
Only then I realised how much subconscious anxiety and immense pressure I had been under. Never in my life, have I been as relieved as at this moment in time.
Baby boy was examined and had lovely APGAR scores straight away (another sense of relief) and got the hang of breastfeeding very quickly.
I am so grateful to everybody around me, Karin, her trust in nature and support in finding your way, and the amazing team at the RD&E for taking time to communicate and respecting my wishes and concerns and seeing me repeatedly to discuss things again.
“I decided to have some zero balancing sessions after having had my baby through emergency c-section following a long and difficult labour. The birth experience left me feeling fragile and I struggled to think about it without becoming emotional. I found that Karin's zero balancing session helped me work through this experience. The sessions left me feeling calm and relaxed and after a couple of sessions I felt much stronger in myself, both emotionally and physically. I now also feel much more positive about the birth and able to think about it in a more balanced and measured way.It seems to me that the zero balancing sessions have played a big part in getting me to this point."