When I returned to the midwife for my 36-week appointment at the end of February, she confirmed that our baby was still breech. We needed to start making plans. I tearfully told the midwife that I just could not see myself scheduling a cesarean birth – maybe it would be a cesarean birth, but at that moment I could not plan for it in such a concrete way. She told me that she would bring my situation to their team meeting, and they would figure something out. That Friday, I received a message from the birth center that they had spoken with an OB at a hospital in a neighboring state: he would see me for an external cephalic version and, if necessary, attend the birth. This was a huge turning point – I had heard about this OB (one of the only doctors in our region who attends breech births) but didn’t know if seeing him would be an option for me. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to look into it, so it was such a gift that my midwives set everything up. I contacted the hospital on the following Monday, and we scheduled an appointment for the ECV that Wednesday.
That morning, we drove 50 minutes to the hospital and met the doctor. He went over the process for the ECV and told us he prefers to do the procedure without using an epidural so the pregnant person can feel what’s happening and let him know if something feels wrong. I was planning to do whatever he preferred but was happy to skip the epidural. So, they sent me to a room in the hospital birth center to be monitored and get ready for the ECV. Our Hypno-doula Christina Bussler drove and met us at the hospital. She played the Hypnobabies music and read a hypnosis script to me while the doctor did the procedure. I felt very relaxed – the ECV was intense, but I was able to handle it and everyone was surprised by how calm I was. The doctor made three attempts and noted that my baby seemed to love the attention of having him trying to move her, although she resisted moving her bottom out of my pelvis. After the procedure was deemed unsuccessful, the doctor talked to us about having a vaginal breech birth at the hospital and had the staff put us on the schedule. The doctor and nurses made it clear that they consider vaginal breech birth to be another version of “normal,” and their confidence about my birth helped me feel very safe in their hands.
After the ECV attempt, I felt pretty good, but I did have some moments of fear and ambivalence. I kept up with my attempts to get the baby to turn for a while, but as the weeks went by, I started to accept that I would be leaving the state to have my baby girl – that she knew that she needed to be born bottom first. I spent more time educating myself about breech birth outcomes and, in the last week or two before my baby was born, I watched lots of videos of other people’s vaginal breech births, which helped me begin to visualize my own birth. I became more and more comfortable with the plan. Ultimately, my greatest worry was knowing when to get on the road.
A little before 40 weeks, during a check-in with the hospital’s OB coordinator, she said something that suggested they might not want me to go much past 41 weeks. I was dismayed to hear this, as I wasn’t having any signs that my birthing time (Hypnobabies term for labor) was imminent. I would have wanted to avoid induction in any case, but induction was not an option for my breech baby. We scheduled a check-up appointment with the doctor for the 41-week mark, but I really wanted to try to get things started before then. Originally, I was planning to have a membrane sweep at my 40-week midwife appointment, but as the date approached, I started feeling strongly that I wanted to give my baby as much time as I could to do things on her own. I opted against doing a sweep at 40+0. I scheduled a membrane sweep for 40+3 and the midwife said that she would be on call and could see me the next day for a second sweep.
So, on Friday I went in for my first sweep. The midwife said the sweep went well; she was able to get a finger into my cervix easily and spread it apart to a few centimeters to do the sweep. She was even able to feel the baby’s bottom inside of me! On Saturday, my husband and son dropped me off at the birth center for my second sweep. She did the sweep around noon. She told me that my cervix was a bit more open than the day before and suggested that things were on a positive trajectory.
After the sweep, I walked 15 minutes to meet up with my family. We went home and they got ready to go to a birthday party at 2pm. I was eager to try timing waves with the Hypnobabies app, since I didn’t even attempt it during my son’s birth. I knew I wanted to pump to try to bring on my birthing time and did an hour-long pumping session, finishing a little after the boys got home around 4pm. At that point, I started having what I could identify as birthing waves (Hypnobabies term for contractions) and started timing them. It took a few waves for me to get the hang of it and start the timer at the right time. After 5, I touched base with our doula and started feeling more confident about tracking my waves. My husband was cooking dinner and I went upstairs with my son for a little while. I didn’t bring my phone to track but I noticed what felt like increasingly regular waves that were getting more and more intense – they weren’t going away with movement.
When I was able to track them, my waves were about 6-7 minutes apart, lasting one minute, for an hour. Somehow it didn’t occur to me that we should leave at that point, although it was clear that we would be heading to the hospital sometime in the next few hours. At 5:45pm I called the hospital to let them know we would be coming sometime that evening. Then at 6:00 I went to the bathroom and had a gush of amniotic fluid when I sat down! I called the hospital back to let them know, and then the nurse said that on second thought, we’d better leave right away considering the length of my birthing time with my first – and that if I started to feel pushy in the car, we needed to either pull into the nearest hospital or call an ambulance. I called my parents to come pick up our son and my dad came a few minutes later. It was now clear to me that things were really happening and it felt like we were moving a little slowly, so I was getting a little freaked out about getting out of the door.
Finally, we got on the road just before 6:30pm. I listened to my Hypnobabies Easy First Stage track (Hypnobabies main birthing time track) on headphones the whole way there and it really helped me get through the trip under difficult circumstances – 45 minutes in the front seat, unable to move around or change positions. I wasn’t timing waves, but they were very intense. At first, I was keeping my eyes closed the whole time, but eventually I decided to open them between waves with my light switch in the center position so I could keep track of where we were and how far we had to go. That really helped. Once we crossed the bridge into the neighboring state, I felt a lot better knowing the hospital was only 15 minutes away. We pulled up to the entrance to the hospital around 7:15pm and I walked into the hospital very actively in my birthing time.
We ended up in a waiting room for a few moments. I swayed through my waves. Then we moved into the birthing suite, but the doctor was still about 15 minutes from arriving. The lights were low. The nurse checked my cervix – I was 9cm dilated. Our doula arrived about 10 minutes after us and helped me greatly by raising the hospital bed so I could lean over it. I soon started feeling pushy and did everything I could to not push! A nurse placed an IV port in my wrist (I was supposed to get antibiotics for GBS+, but things ended up going way too quickly for that) and took some blood at about 7:35pm. They asked me some questions which I attempted to answer, and I did my best to sign the breech birth consent form. I kept swaying through waves and using the “Peace” cue (Hypnobabies cue for instant physical comfort) to give me strength to not start pushing my baby out. Someone asked me if it was okay for a couple of staff members to be in the room for the birth, as they had not yet seen a breech birth. Of course! I was excited to share a special and somewhat unusual occurrence with others.
Once the doctor arrived (my best guess is around 7:40pm), we lowered the bed down and raised the back of it to 90 degrees. I got on my knees and leaned against the back of the bed. With the first push, I felt a big gush. There was all kinds of stuff coming out of me, including meconium, but I knew it was normal for a lot of meconium to come out during a breech birth. I kept pushing when the urge came. My husband was by my side touching my shoulder, and our doula was playing Hypnobabies music and saying words of encouragement. Soon, the baby’s bottom began to emerge. I felt an intense stretching sensation and was briefly afraid, but then I remembered that that’s just what it feels like at the beginning. So, I kept pushing through it. I was visualizing the sensations as I had seen them happen in the VBB videos.
Once her bottom was out, I had to wait for another wave for the rest. It was very uncomfortable to have just her bottom hanging out and I tried my best to keep my vocalizations low and productive. Finally, I pushed again, and my baby’s legs came out! It was definitely still uncomfortable to have her body dangling from me, even after her legs had come out. I also felt a little anxious knowing that it would be best for her head to be born sooner rather than later. But the doctor said I could wait to push again until I felt the urge. I did, and my daughter was born at 7:54pm! It was a completely hands-off birth except for my husband’s gentle hand on my shoulder and a very quick chest press by the doctor to help the baby’s head emerge. The doctor toweled her off, passed her through my legs to me, and I clutched her to my belly, being sure not to put stress on the umbilical cord, which was just a little short. She hadn’t cried yet so I rubbed her back and after a few moments she let out a brief cry to let us know she was doing just fine. After the doctor helped my husband cut the umbilical cord, I got on my back and waited for the placenta to be born. It came without any issues. I spent the next hour snuggling with my new daughter in bed, and then my husband and the nurse took her to the newborn station in the room to weigh her.
We got into our postpartum room and our doula stayed to hang out with me while my husband went to the supermarket in town to get us some dinner (it was Saturday, so the hospital kitchen was closed). When he got back, we ate tamales in bed and embarked on the rest of our life as parents of two. Giving birth to my daughter was a wonderful experience. I had hoped to give birth at a freestanding birth center but my Hypnobabies vaginal breech birth in the hospital was beautiful and healing. It truly was “a new baby and a new birth,” as the affirmation goes. I feel so lucky to have welcomed my sweet baby with such a peaceful and empowering birth.