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Rose and Lilly Breech At Home

I’d had the ‘perfect’ pregnancy throughout, so it was a bit of a shock to discover my baby was breech at nearly 37 weeks. Our amazing midwife Lisa tried to downplay it and said she could be wrong, and we can have a scan to check, if I wanted, but I knew she was breech, I didn’t need a scan to tell me. All of a sudden I felt like my ‘plans’ had been shattered and taken away from me, until my partner Brooke simply said, “so what? Babies come out breech”.

I have been surrounded by breech babies- Brooke being a twin, was breech (vaginally) and my two nephews were also breech, but both were diagnosed late in labour (fully dilated and 7cm), in the hospital so they were born via Caesarean section!

Knowing that Lisa had experience in breech birth and her and Brooke’s positive attitude allowed me to re-focus, and for the next two weeks or so I tried everything to turn my baby. But deep down I knew she was exactly where she was meant to be! I guess that is why I didn’t want an ECV (where an Obstetrician tries to manually turn the baby from the outside). It was a huge relief when I finally decided to stop doing my bum in the air positions, Moxa etc, because it allowed me to fully accept that I am having a breech baby! Lisa discussed all of our options with us, and an elective caesarean was never in the thought process, so it was a decision whether to stay at home or plan a hospital breech birth.

As soon as Lisa began talking about what may happen in the hospital, with their ‘protocols’ etc, I began to feel really nervous and scared, so my decision was already made; we will continue with the homebirth. For me, I knew that if I went to hospital, my labour would not progress ‘normally’ and I would be bullied into having continuous fetal monitoring and an epidural ‘just-in-case‘, and that Lisa would no longer be my Midwife. That scared me much more than the (small) risks of an active breech birth at home. So to give my body and baby the best chance of a vaginal birth, I knew the only place to be was at home with my supportive team and experienced midwife.

I felt my first contraction at about 10pm on Tuesday 1st May. I had just gone to bed so I tried to rest as much as possible, but it was obvious there would be no rest as the contractions were only 4 minutes apart already! My wheat pack helped for about one and a half contractions I think! I continued to lie in bed and whenever I got a contraction I would have to wiggle around and at the height of each contraction I would need to be up on my all fours. Brooke was still asleep, but I thought “don’t tell him, he will get way too excited“, but I want him to see how much it hurts! No, leave him, I will need him to be fresh when things ‘start happening’. The only comfortable position I could find was kneeling over the edge of the bed, so that was where I stayed for a couple of hours, as the pains got longer and stronger. Brooke still hadn’t really realised things were happening, but I didn’t care anymore, cause I was focusing on my breathing a lot now, thanks to my Yoga practice.

I had to go to the toilet, and finally, after weeks of waiting for it, there was my ‘show’. Woo Hoo. I was very excited, I could give myself permission to accept that this really was labour. I thought that if I downplayed everything then I wouldn’t be disappointed if my labour was not as far along as I thought.

Right, time to tell Brooke now! Minutes after returning to the edge of the bed, and waterproofing the (cream) carpet, my waters broke. It was now midnight. I found this a relief as I could really feel the forewaters bulging and it felt quite uncomfortable during the contractions. As I expected, there was thin meconium in the waters, but I always knew Lilly was ok because I could feel her moving lots.

Things really started happening now, but I still felt very much in control and coping with the pain fine. We decided to start using the TENS machine because your meant to start using it as soon as labour starts, for maximum benefit. However we soon discovered the new cord they sent me (cause the other one was faulty) didn’t fit the machine! Aargh! So I only had 1 set of pads instead of two. “Don’t worry, I’ll fix it” says Brooke, as he scurries to his tool kit to save the day. It was quite comical, and I remember actually laughing. Picture a naked pregnant woman in strong labour, moaning and groaning, leaning over the kitchen counter, and her man with his tools trying to fix an electrical machine! I really appreciated the effort, but just stuck with the one set. Despite this, the TENS worked quite well for me.

At 1am I found myself sitting on the toilet constantly. I kept draining lots of fluid and meconium, which was not pleasant. I also had a vomit and a fresh bloody show, which the midwife within was saying, “Yes- that’s your 5cm vomit” but I disregarded it, in case I wasn’t progressing as fast as I thought/hoped I was. We never actually timed the contractions, I didn’t need to know, how far apart they were, or how long they were lasting, I just knew one way or another I would be having my baby.

At 1:30am Brooke wanted to call Lisa but I wouldn’t let him, cause I felt fine and I knew she had been up with other births (and I know what its like to be on call!). I really didn’t feel like I needed any extra support, I was coping well and in control and the TENS was all the pain relief I needed. Lisa was going to bring the birth pool, when I was in labour, but I actually didn’t feel like I needed it, yet.

I thought poor Brooke could do with some support, so I said to call Kathryn, our support person (also a midwife). It was only then things started to feel ‘different’. Hard to explain, but I also thought I could start to feel some bowel pressure! Kat heard this on the phone and came straightaway. Under instruction from Kat, Brooke then called Lisa.

After just 3 ½ hours of labour I was in transition! This stage was fine for me, I just couldn’t work out what I wanted to do, and so Brooke suggested kneeling forward onto our beanbags as I found this a very comfy position during my pregnancy. Kat arrived at 2am and the bowel pressure was quite strong, but I was too scared to push before anyone arrived. I think Brooke was very relieved to see someone, cause he knew how fast things were happening. Kat gave me the amazing support and encouragement I needed, as I found the feeling quite scary initially. It literally felt like my baby was going to come out of my bum! The acupressure point on the bottom of my foot worked wonders for this. After another vomit I managed to refocus and just go with the feeling, knowing it would be over soon. I was very relieved when Lilly came down more and I could feel the pressure more in my vagina and less in my bottom. I now felt more in control and enjoyed pushing.

Lisa arrived at about 2:40am, and I am sure Kat was relieved to see her as she had never birthed a breech baby before, and of course there was no equipment either! I made Brooke call our other support person Lyn (My mother-in-law), as I didn’t want her to miss the birth. I could hear Brooke casually telling her I was in labour, so come around, but I knew she would miss it if she didn’t hurry, so between contractions I was yelling, “Tell her……I’m……Pushing……” I hardly noticed Lisa arrived as I was so focused on pushing this baby out, whether she was there or not! I figured if I was going to push-I might as well give it all I’ve got and make the process quicker. There was obviously no need for any examinations, which I was happy with.

I could hear the wonderful encouraging words of Lisa and Kat, who were perched at my bum with a torch! Lyn arrived as Lilly’s foot was out, but I don’t remember when she actually arrived. Being a midwife myself, I know the ‘normal’ birth process, so I was finding it a little difficult not knowing what was happening, as it was quite an unusual feeling. It felt very ‘bitsy’ as her limbs were birthing. I kept asking Lisa, ‘what was that?” as I found it helpful knowing where I was up to. I was also waiting for the “Ring of Fire” burning sensation, but luckily I never felt it. The sorest bit was getting her legs out as she was born left leg first, and then sat there with one leg down and one up. She then brought her right leg down and I pushed her out up to her belly button. As I was in a forward kneeling position, my bum was close to the floor, so Lilly was able to sit on the floor, legs crossed like a lady!

With the next contraction her left arm was out followed by her right arm and her head then flew out. There was no pause for her head and certainly no concern about an ‘entrapped head’ which doctors are so worried about! Lilly was born at 3:02am, on her due date, weighing 8lb, 5 hours after my first contraction. She came so quickly no one had time to catch her, so she tumbled to the floor, before Lisa passed her through my legs to me. We were prepared for a ‘floppy’ baby who may need some oxygen or resuscitation, but there in my arms was this gorgeous girl who was pink and screaming and perfect in every way. I was not going to let her go, and she quickly calmed down in my arms, against my chest. I remember looking at Brooke in total amazement that we had done it! We had our perfect baby, in the perfect setting, of our loving, warm home.

After being helped off of the floor, onto the lounge, my placenta came quickly and easily, and it felt so nice to lay down and breastfeed my baby, and begin to get to know each other, in the privacy and intimacy of my home. But the nicest thing was all three of us snuggling up together in bed, just a few hours after she was born. Homebirth just makes sense! Some people may believe its naive to think this, but I knew everything was going to go well, and now I could prove this to everyone who doubted my body, my baby or me. The most important lesson I have learnt through this journey is Trust. I had to do a lot of thinking about what I wanted and why I wanted it and this finally made me realise “Everything is Perfect” My baby was breech for a reason and I trusted my baby and body to give birth just as I would have if Lilly was head down. I will forever be grateful to my amazing support team and especially Lisa, for guiding and supporting me through my amazing journey.

Happy birthing to all, Rose, Brooke and Lilly Pawlak

3 responses to “Rose and Lilly Breech At Home”

  1. Kathryn

    Rose and Lilly are both gorgeous and this breech birth at home was a gift that will stay in my heart forever… Thank you for this amazing learning curve Rose, Lilly, Brooke and Lisa – Love Kathryn xxoo

  2. Anonymous

    You go girl! A beautiful & inspiring story, love Shellx

  3. amylockyemily

    Fantastic, inspiring story!!