A Natural Breech Birth Story by our own New Orleans Doula . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(New Orleans Doula)

I was blessed with a smooth, healthy pregnancy this time around. I barely had any morning sickness, and my only complaints were 3rd trimester related issues like back pain, heartburn, and swelling. I was thrilled to have had a low-risk, healthy pregnancy after having had such a crazy high-risk one when I was pregnant with Josh!

We were thrown for a loop when at 39 weeks it was confirmed that Corinne was breech! She was suspected to have been hanging out in a strange position for a couple of weeks, but we didn't know for sure how she was hanging out until I got a quick ultrasound to confirm things. Sure enough, she was frank breech.

I had been planning to actually have a home birth. I had myself an awesome, experienced, knowledgeable midwife (Emmy) doing all of my prenatal care, and a backup OB (Dr. Lap) to handle things should I need to transfer (and who cleared me for home birth in the first place). I was so thrilled that my dream of finally having the water birth that I'd wanted since college would finally become a reality. And then Corinne decided to be breech. Which meant unless she turned, she'd have to be born at the hospital under the care of my backup OB, who was actually on board with delivering a frank breech baby naturally. She's one of the very few experienced OB's when it comes to breech presentation.

Once we found out, we started literally praying without ceasing. I immediately started doing all the recommended maneuvers from spinningbabies.com, and going to the chiropractor daily for the Webster technique. I even took recommended homeopathy to encourage her to turn. Still she stayed in her cozy spot with her head at the top right side of my belly. I was so discouraged. My final week and half of pregnancy were filled with so much emotion, but through it all, I felt God was telling me to trust Him. I knew He designed my body for birth, so I really didn't have to worry. I also trusted my midwife and Dr. and knew I was in good care.

After having several days and nights off and on of prodromal labor, at 40 weeks and 5 days along on 8/21, I finally started feeling some contractions that were a bit different from the rest. They weren't coming very often, and they didn't hurt, but they felt more "meaningful". By that evening, I knew they were probably turning into labor as they got a bit more intense, and fell into an "early labor" pattern. So just before 11pm, I gave my midwife a call...I had given her a "heads-up" text earlier in the day, so she knew what was going on. She arrived just after midnight on 8/22, what would be Corinne's birth day.

After she arrived, she examined me. I was 3cm, and 90% effaced with a bulging bag. Progress! I was indeed in early labor. I have a history of long early labors though, so now came the decision of if I should try to get things to progress and potentially tire myself out, or just try to get some sleep. I tried both because I couldn't decide. I sat on my birth ball, took a couple of walks outside our apartment on the walkways, and climbing up and down stairs, and making sure my kids' bikes were put away properly (they had left them out. I'm glad we live on a secured seminary campus in NOLA!). I tried resting a bit, but even though my contractions were spacing out, they got to be too painful to be laying down through. I decided probably around 3 or 3:30 that I was hungry, so I ate a snack and then took a shower to see what that would do. My contractions were probably about every 14 minutes give or take at that point. I decided to go try and get some sleep again. The waves spaced out even more. I managed to doze off and on, but basically did not sleep that night! I got up around 6:30 because I was just too uncomfortable in bed. Emmy my midwife who stayed resting in my apartment during the night decided to examine me again to see how baby and I were doing. I had dilated about another centimeter during the night. I was happy with the progress and continued to go about my morning and keep walking around, and stair climbing to help things along. I even got out my manual breast pump to help my waves get closer together. Everything helped a bit, but I just had to let my body let active labor begin on its own.

Around 10:20 that morning I felt my waters release and that immediately put me into active labor, and my contractions got to be more regular at about 6 minutes apart. I normally would've stayed home a bit longer, but I had just found out that morning that my GBS test was actually positive, not negative. I don't know why the confusion or why the results came back so late, but since my membranes ruptured, I needed the IV antibiotics once I got to the hospital. Thankfully, my active labor had begun, so I didn't quite feel like we were going in too early to the hospital.

We got to the hospital probably around 11:15 or so and got admitted. Contractions had spaced out again but soon picked up into a nice pattern of every 4-7 minutes. I got my antibiotic around noon, and then thankfully my IV was hep-locked after it was done. I had a really supportive nurse who was very supportive of natural birth. She even showed us a pic of herself having met Ina May Gaskin! I knew we had a keeper then. :-) She asked us about if we had had a birth plan, what kinds of things would be on it. I LOVE that she asked me that because since I wasn't originally planning a hospital birth, i was not prepared with a written out birth plan! Even my Dr. later on just knew what kinds of things I wanted in my birth, and respected that by being "hands-off".

I then decided I was hungry so I ate some soup while I still felt like eating. I knew I needed my strength for later! I appreciated that none of the hospital staff cared that I ate during my labor. They know that laboring women shouldn't be denied food and drink!

At nearly 2pm, my Dr. came in to check me and see how things were moving along. I was now 6cm, baby was still doing great. Less than an hour later, I could feel myself moving into heavy active labor/transition. I could tell by how I was feeling...no longer wanting food, feeling more pressure lower down in my bottom. Waves were about 4 minutes apart steadily now. Here's when my labors start to fly by...thankfully!

By 3:30, I knew I was in transition, and my nurse checked me. i was about 8-9 cm. I knew that they should probably call the Dr. in very soon as I could be pushing within minutes. I just let my body take over though, I'm not going to lie, contractions were HARD to get through now. Not 20 minutes later, all I could do was moan and move and try to get comfortable, though it was impossible. I got into my pushing position on my knees at this point because I knew if I waited too long, that wouldn't happen. I felt more and more rectal pressure, and before I knew it, my body started pushing automatically. i worried because my Dr. wasn't quite there yet! She finally arrived in the room at 3:56. thankfully the other medical staff in the room had everything set up and ready to go. Emmy my midwife was almost ready to catch the baby had Dr. Lap been too late! My body started pushing hard now, and I could feel my baby's bottom coming out. it was actually really cool to feel her body emerge between my legs. it took all of two or three pushes and she was out entirely. Sometimes breech babies take a little longer from the time their bottoms are out, until their heads are born...but not Corinne! She came out so fast, everyone was so amazed! Dr. Lap was saying things like "you're making this look so easy!" to me. Emmy said her birth was "smooth as silk". I was just thankful that it was finally over and I could finally see this little baby that's been in me for 9+ months!!

Dr. Lap brought her through my legs so I could hold her, and helped me turn around onto the bed so i could rest. We did delayed cord clamping, and my placenta came out on it's own about 20 minutes after the birth. My Dr. was amazed that I had no tearing. It must've been a really easy birth for her because she had no stitching to do! Praise God! I got Corinne latched on as soon as I could. I think the little audience of other nurses and residents were amazed at the rare sight they just saw of a natural breech delivery. I didn't mind really...I just hope they learned that it IS possible and safe. Education is key. I'm glad I could help educate them! lol

I held and nursed Corinne for a good hour and a half before they had to do her assessment and measurements. Emmy and I both suspected a small baby, but she was just really curled up inside me apparently. Turns out she was my biggest baby at 8 lbs even, and 20.5" long! I was pleasantly shocked!

I was also happy that no one gave me a problem about refusing the eye ointment and newborn shots. One of the nurses even coined the term "No eyes, no thighs". Ha, I liked that. They are probably used to well-informed moms like me there at Touro. It is definitely the place to have a natural birth here in NOLA.

The only thing that would've made this experience better is if we could've gone home sooner. But we were able to be discharged after 24 hours thankfully. It is impossible to get any decent rest in the hospital!

I am incredibly happy with our "plan B" birth experience. I think everything worked out just as it was meant to be, with a perfect outcome! I just hope this empowers other women facing breech births to know all of their options, and to make informed decisions. Seek out the best care providers for you, and don't allow yourself to be bullied. Breech doesn't always equal a c-section, and for that I am glad!

Grace is a birth doula and beautiful mother to three sweet children.  She's currently on maternity leave. <3