The Breech Homebirth of Jemma
It was a regular Wednesday for my two year old daughter, Eden and me. We decided to go for it since we had lots to do and were hoping to encourage baby sister out (and the midwife was back in town! ) After we dropped my husband, Eric, off at work we went to Target to get baby hangers for the nursery, the mall, and the Co-op for some yummy food. Next we stopped at Mom’s to kill a little time before we went to see some kittens that I had taken Eden to see born just a couple weeks before. Mom laughed at my pregnancy snacks of the day a big banana, a quart of fresh Co-op half & half and string cheese! Nothing like good rich milk when I am pregnant! Next stop after kittens, and Eden’s gymnastics! At the gym, like usual she ran all around and was wild as heck! I felt heavy and achy in my cervix as I ran after her.
At my 35 week homevisit, I was 6 cm dilated and 75% effaced. I was put on modified bed-rest in hopes of making it to 38 weeks and for my midwife to get back in town! Thank goodness I had the Olympics to entertain me each night! I knew I would be dilated but was shocked to hear I was that dilated at 35 weeks. I had many more noticeable contractions this pregnancy unlike my first pregnancy, where I barely noticed contractions up until 8cm before going into labor with my first baby. I never experience much discomfort with labor. The contractions were often and strong but not painful. I surprise people with my descriptions of contractions and the efficiency of my uterus. I wished that I had delivered with my midwives the first time so they could have seen what labor and birth was like with my first daughter’s birth! I ended up walking around 6cm for a month.
After gymnastics we came home and my mom, sister, and friend came over. Eden nursed which gave me some contractions like it often did. I think she even took a nap for me! My contractions just kept coming and there was no real break as my uterus just stayed hard all the time. I’d think one contraction was still going and another would start. I walked and bounced on my birthing ball and sipped on a mango smoothie. Eric was going to be off work soon so I had my sister pick him up. My mother kept thinking my water was leaking and convinced me to just give the midwife a call. So I did and the midwife told me she could be there as soon as I needed. I told her I would call her back if something changed.
Around 9 pm or so she called me and convinced me to have her come by and just check on things. I agreed, she really did convince me, as I never was quite sure I was in labor. The contractions were not painful, no other real signs of labor had occurred. I had experienced non stop contractions many evenings that had always faded. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making a big deal and calling up for a false labor.
She arrived around 10ish, and when I saw her I just started crying. I don’t know why exactly I just felt very emotional and was really glad she was going to make it for our birth. By midnight, we had established a couple of things; I was 7 cm dilated and 90% effaced and the baby was breech….Surprise! I think I smiled and then even laughed. I stared at her with disbelief. I was half sure she was mistaken as I never felt a big shift of the baby. I had been the practice belly at multiple midwifery student study groups and had the baby in my belly palpitated many times by many people and midwives. Many people, including myself, had been very hands on during my pregnancy. My midwife said she was very certain the baby was breech, called the other midwife and checked again.
By 1am it was decided, after all options were discussed, we would go to bed and see if I could hold off labor for an ultrasound that would show me more in the morning. I was worried about her cord, and she was so engaged in my pelvis and for probably so for a long time that turning her was not really an option, nor was I very comfortable with trying at 38 weeks and 2 days, all things considered. I most certainly felt a risk with breech delivery but I felt just as much with a c-section. It amazes me how at this time Eric was so strong and had so much faith in me. He didn’t want a c-section for us and knew I could do it. He never even doubted me and advocated for at least trying to deliver her as long as things were going good during delivery. I just had to try! Fortunately she was frank breech (bottom first), the best type, and a good size. At that point my midwives left and I attempted sleep with everything heavy on my mind, I had strict instructions to call if I felt anything different.
Around 3:30 am I awoke and felt a sort of vibration in my head with a contraction and they felt a little deeper in my cervix. I waited, longer than my midwives had instructed and then sent a text. They were back by 4am (ish) and I was 10 cm and complete. I had slept through transition! It’s crucial to be dilated to 10 cm before the baby descends into the birth canal, with the head being the largest part of the baby, descending sooner poses the risk of head entrapment. Another risk of breech delivery already alleviated. I was told to lay for as long as I was comfortable. At this point we just decided to proceed with the utmost caution, completely ready and willing to transfer to the hospital at any point if necessary. My midwife was confident, scoring me very high on a scale for breech birth candidates. I had a proven pelvis along with the strength and mindset to do it. Everyone planning to attend was called and the house buzzed with excitement as the pool was being filled and candles were being lit. Finally I got up and nothing much really happened.
We were planning on leaving the bag of waters intact if possible. I labored contently, got in and back out of the pool. I went for a walk as the sun was rising with Eric and we looked at our garden and then I picked a few blackberries that tasted divine. Eric made breakfast and the rest of the house came back to life. I snacked on garden tomatoes, cucumbers and cottage cheese, peaches, watermelon and coconut water.
At last we proceeded to rupture my amniotic sac after being fully dilated for around 4 hours, it proved to be very strong after not breaking with three attempts! I expected her to come quickly, and for things to get very intense and uncomfortable but they didn’t really. I stood and squatted on the birthing stool, bringing contractions around 3 minutes apart. With each contraction I had to completely surrender and let her come down by herself and not push. I had to focus and sway but it felt like the how I would labor with any birth. Eventually I felt a similar sensation to the baby coming through my pelvis only much softer. She was close now, and I was told to gently urge her to come more with soft pushes.
Eden awoke and looked like a rested angel and dove right into the birthing pool with me. She was so pleased that she had a pool in her living room. I labored as she swam and played joyously behind me. Eden got out and fed me mango popsicle. Eventually, when baby’s bottom began to emerge Eric got in the pool and held me.
I reached between my legs and felt her tiny bottom. I saw her little bottom and girl parts in a hand mirror. I held my hand over my skin next to her body as my midwife supported my perineum and I pushed her out slowly, feeling her whole body move past my finger tips, her heart always chugging along strong and perfectly. I felt empowered and was surprised I was pretty much delivering her myself into my own hands.
At last her head was all that was left to come, and I pushed it out into my midwife’s hands with a resemblance to a champagne cork! The cord was loosely wrapped around her neck once. Then she was on my chest and looked so different than her sister, and from what I expected! I talked to her and rubbed her head and she took her first breath, we all took it with her, and she let out her first cry!
It was so wonderful to look into her sweet little face and meet her for the first time lying in Eric’s loving, strong arms. Eden hopped right in to meet her and was adorable and amazed!
Though Jemma’s birth was a surprise breech she and I are living proof that breech birth is another version of normal! That a natural breech birth is safe and possible in the appropriate situation! I am truly glad and blessed that I have had the pleasure of birthing our sweet little girl breech. Thank you to everyone who loved and supported us through our pregnancy, labor and birth journey! And especially thank you to my wonderful husband who always believed in us and my midwives who helped us make it happen!
born August 16, 2012
7 lbs 6 oz
22 in long
at 11:24 am at home!
Our birth photographer came back to our home when Jemma was one week to do her newborn photos. She did our Maternity, Birth, and Newborn photos all in our home!