My Breech Birth Story

Mercy Reign was born Saturday, February 3 at 4:43am by way of C-section after 40 hours of intense, unmedicated labor at home. She was frank breech, 9 pounds, 9 ounces and 23 inches long! Mercy was extra-well done (haha) at 41weeks and 3days, extra-large, extra cozy, folded completely in half,  and slightly transverse, likely due to how long she was! This was not the birth story I wanted, it was the birth story God knew we needed. 

Zach and I did everything we could to prepare for a home (water) birth, something we both dreamed of having. We prayed. We took A Heavenly Welcome's Kingdom Childbirth Class and the 8 week Mama Natural Online Birth classWe hired an amazing Christian midwife with 29 years experience who thoroughly cared for, educated and encouraged us from 9 weeks pregnant through the "4th trimester". We both read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth book, Hypnobirthing and Supernatural Childbirth. A word on Hypnobirthing for those whose "New Age radar" just went up: Chew on the meat & spit out the "New Age" bones - most of the info on what happens in the woman's body during pregnancy, labor and birth + the breathing techniques in this book were very accurate and helpful though I don't recommend the cd or some of the wierd visualizations.  We also watched endless videos of amazing home births, and once we found out she was breech, endless vaginal breech birth videos. I LOVED The Heavenly Welcome Podcast in my last trimester, listening to all the supernatural birth stories/testimonies!! 

The Lord specifically instructed me on how to prepare my body before getting pregnant, after He gave me  the dream about Mercy. He gave me the words TRUST and DISCIPLINE, and challenged me to get a 1-year chronological Bible to read for 2017 (as of March 2018 I've almost completed it...hahaha...better to finish with grace than become legalistic and ashamed, right?!). I also felt the Lord instruct me to start pilates reformer classes to prepare my structure, as I was just coming off of a serious back injury involving 2 bulged discs and severe muscle spasms. He advised me to lighten my load and work on my adrenal glands/hormones, as my periods had gotten painful and a bit irregular after prolonged high stress.  The Lord also nudged me to finally change over the last of my makeup/skincare regimen. I had been using Bare Esscentuals for years and justified that it was "natural enough." I finally took the time to see how EVERYTHING I was using on my face/body ranked on the EWG- Skin Deep App and did my research to find  the BEST, most pure and complete cosmetic line  once and for all. (I hate changing makeup/searching for new products!) There are hundreds of serious carcinogens, hormone disruptors & other toxins in most makeup/skin care products. I still make my own body butter and anti-aging skin serum, both of which I used (mixed together) for stretch mark prevention throughout the whole pregnancy (and I didn't get a single stretchmark with my 55 extra pounds of  Mercy love!!!). I had pages of birth declarations and scriptures (you're welcome to use them) typed up that I meditated on for weeks to keep my mind constantly renewed and excited versus afraid. Aside from those specifics, I was already eating super clean and healthy, teaching Indoor Cycling classes 2 times per week and working a balanced schedule. I took responsibility and trained accordingly, as I knew childbirth was not something to "just wing". 

Everything the Lord advised me to do paid off and served its purpose. I had a wonderful pregnancy despite the fact that it was "God's plan" and not our own in the end. Mercy was head down until the middle of third trimester when she flipped. My amazing Chiropractor, who specializes in pregnancy and pediatric care,  is who suspected she was breech and referred me out for emergency ultrasound for confirmation on Christmas Eve (35.5 weeks). Praise God for the wise words from a dear friend who reminded me: "Remember, home birth isn't the ultimate goal, a health mommy and baby is". That was Truth I needed to remember for such a time as this. This pregnancy and birth experience took me to another level of surrender and trust, once again reminding me that we are not in control. I so desperately wanted to have this baby naturally at home. I fully believed that God was going to honor "the desires of my heart". My recovery entailed much more than physical healing. 

We prayed fervently through the end of my pregnancy and had so many others praying (even fasting for us). We did everything to get her to turn (Webster technique, Chiropractic care, Acupuncture, Moxibustion, External Cephalic Version 3 times, inversion exercises from SpinningBabies.comessential oils, homeopathies to increase my amniotic fluid making more room for baby to move, etc).  We were still lead to try to have a home birth instead of cave to C-section immediately since there were zero complications, and I was healthy and low risk through my entire pregnancy. We had to hire Dr. Stuart Fischbein (with Dr. Milo Chavira on call, his backup which is who we ended up with because Dr. Stu was out of town when I went into labor... the plot thickens!) the only Obstetricians in the area who specialize in vaginal breech HOME (or birth center) birth. Sadly, California law will not allow a breech home birth with a midwife any longer (don't get me started on that!). It is pretty much exclusively hospital policy here to force women with breech babies to have a surgical birth and not even allow them to try to deliver naturally. God kept opening doors of hope and possibility. 

Something I learned from our amazing and very experienced birth team through this journey: If you are trying to deliver a breech baby vaginally, induction and intervention are major no-no's. (Of course, I'm not a fan of either unless they are truly MEDICALLY NECESSARY anyway. One intervention often quickly leads to a whole cascade of interventions, which can have adverse effects on mommy and baby). Because Mercy could not descend through the birth canal due to her position and size, my contractions never developed a regular pattern into active labor, and I never dilated past 4 cm. I had MANY 10-15 minute, excruciating, back-to-back surges as my uterus did its job to TRY to bring her down. I fought to have her naturally, but it eventually became medically necessary to transfer. My water had been broken for nearly 48 hours.

This was my Garden of Gethsemane. 

“...Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” -Matthew 26:39 NKJV

There were some incredibly HOLY moments late in my labor where tears flowed from the depths of my soul. I was able to dance and worship, feeling almost zero pain for a couple hours!! I had a supernatural breakthrough and clearly heard the Lord speaking to me about restoring the family unit, the ancient ruins (Isaiah 61), and the places that have been long devastated through many generations. He spoke to us about making all things new through us, a fresh start, a new and healthy generation, and encouragement that I don't have to be afraid of me or Zach doing the things I witnessed growing up. These have been deep, tormenting and paralyzing fears throughout my life. The Lord "delivered" me as I was delivering my daughter into the world. I was fully surrendered at that point and HOLY is the only way to describe it.

Perhaps if my birth story had been "easy", I would have missed out on the healing that only comes through the kind of pain that brings you to your knees. I could quickly get caught up in grieving and re-living my birth story, wallowing in the emotions and making it an idol. Instead I CHOOSE to simply trust The Lord and thank Him for this baby girl that was worth it all!! After all, I don't "deserve" anything. Anything the Lord gives is a gift of grace in reality. 

Ultimately we had our home birth...with a cesarean delivery and a healthy mommy and baby. We did everything we could and therefore, will never have any regrets. In God's mercy and grace, Miss Mercy Reign never once showed any sign of fetal distress through the entire labor or birth or postpartum!! Thank you Jesus!!! 

We are in love!!! Mercy is so strong and healthy and BEAUTIFUL and FUN and squishy and delicious!!!! God's MERCY truly REIGNS and we can be grateful His plans are better than ours will ever be!!!

THANK YOU to ALL who have prayed, called, sent cards and gifts, celebrated and journeyed with us!!!

Psalm 136:1 "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER."

FUN FACT: A breech presentation is a variation of normal (like us! haha), not a pregnancy complication. It occurs in 3-4% of pregnancies and no one really knows why. Vaginal delivery is ideal for a low-risk breech baby so long as you have a properly trained birth assistant (OB or Midwife). The real problem is that medical schools are no longer training Doctors how to deliver breech babies, so there is a LOT of fear-mongering around this topic. Just as many things can go wrong during C-section delivery of a breech baby if a Doctor isn't properly trained (brachial plexus injuries, etc). It is still wise to avoid a surgical birth whenever possible unless it is truly medically necessary like mine ultimately was. 

A natural birth with twins? Yes You can!

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was doubly excited, and knew I still desired a home birth.  However, I realized many practitioners see all multiple pregnancies as high risk, and I would have to advocate for my wishes, while seeking out an experienced care provider.  As a home birth midwife, I have assisted with natural twin pregnancies in the United States, and abroad as a traveling volunteer.  While we are fortunate here to have medical interventions available, such as epidurals and cesarean sections, they are not needed for every birth, including every multiples birth.  So how can you best achieve your chance for a natural birth? Education, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and trusting in yourself.  Here are my top tips to natural birth success with multiples:

 

Nutrition - starting in the first trimester, it is important to eat a health diet, including whole foods, lots of water, and a quality food - based prenatal vitamin.  One of the most important nutrients for moms is protein, which provides amino acids, known as the building blocks to cells.  With adequate nutrition, not only will you be growing healthy babies, they may also have a better chance of making it to full term, which also increases your success of a natural birth, while decreasing their risk of NICU time.  Good protein choices are lean meat, eggs, low mercury fish, beans and legumes.  Additionally, it is important to “eat the rainbow,” meaning many colors on your plate - think red peppers or strawberries, green broccoli, kale or spinach, oranges or carrots, yellow lemons or bananas, as each colored whole food provides different key nutrients and vitamins.  Drinking plenty of fluids will ensure babies have enough amniotic fluid, contractions don’t start prematurely, and can  help keep your fatigue at bay.  To combat nausea, try not to get too hungry, and keep bland snacks like cereal or dried fruit nearby.

Exercise - Once given the go ahead from your provider, prenatal exercise is another essential part of maintaining a healthy pregnancy, and will prepare yourself for birth.  Prenatal yoga, walking and swimming are all great options.  A walk outside also gives the added benefit of vitamin D!  When in doubt, consult before trying something new, and avoid heavy lifting, torquing maneuvers or high impact exercises, unless it is okayed.  During pregnancy, the babies need to get in optimal birth positions, and avoiding strenuous abdominal exercises, as well as doing weight bearing activity, can help make that possible.  As your pregnancy progresses, a maternity cradle, or wide, elastic band will offer support when standing or walking for long periods of time.  If you are placed on bed rest, ask if there is still any exercise you can do, such as leg lifts or arm exercises, because even a little movement may be beneficial.  You can also practice gentle breathing techniques, such as longer exhalations than inhalations or blowing, which may be helpful to use during labor.

Childbirth Education - Take a class with a local educator, watch natural birth videos, read childbirth preparation books and talk to experienced parents so that you have the knowledge to make an informed decision about your birth preferences, including place of birth.  A natural birth can happen at home or in hospital!  Research your birth preferences but be flexible.  Decide which aspects are most important to you, and also what part of your plan you could modify, in case things change.  In birth, preparation is helpful so you know what to expect, but the unexpected can occur, and its important to know why an intervention is being offered or recommended.

Self Confidence - now that you’ve ate healthy, exercised gently, and feel informed about labor and birth, hopefully you can enjoy your pregnancy!  I know easier said than done, but remember people have been giving birth forever.  Once you’re pregnant everyone has some piece of advice to offer, so take in the positive, and let the negative stories go.  Find affirmations or images that make you feel empowered and strong.  These can be your mantras during labor and birth.  Another essential is trusted a labor companion, which could be a friend, relative or partner, and statistics show that someone with a birthing person throughout their birth is the best thing you can do to reduce number of medical interventions.  Remember, this is a special time and you can do it!

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One of the best parts of an unmedicated birth is the feeling you have once your little ones are in your arms.  In fact it is the highest level of oxytocin, the love hormone, that a person will ever experience in their life!  However, no matter how birth happens, it is transformative and beautiful, and with multiples, only enhanced with each baby.


Here is our first family photo: happy, healthy and at tucked in at home!

 

Jacquelyn Ingram is a licensed midwife and international board certified vacation consultant.  In addition to serving home birth clients and teaching classes for expectant and new parents, she also runs a non profit corporation, Global Aurora Foundation, which aids individuals and non government organizations around the world, that serve women and children.  modelmidwife@gmail.com

2017 Birthing Instincts Year in Review

 

Well, that went fast. Another year of births, advocating and teaching for the Birthing Instincts team. I want to specifically thank my staff and students, Kati and Catalina along with all the midwives who refer and trust me with their clients. As always, a special thanks to midwives Beth Cannon and Blyss Young who have been with me through it all. It is always interesting to look back so let’s see what adventures, both personal and professional we had in 2017.  As always, I was available to answer questions, emails and calls from midwives and clients pretty much every day, 24/7 365. It didn’t take long to see that the 2017 practice was going to be caring for more and more breech families. As choices diminished with the retirement of Dr. Ronald Wu and the banning of breech and most twin deliveries at multiple hospitals women were left with fewer options. We are happy to note that friend and colleague, Emiliano Chavira, MD helped picked up the baton and gave women the option of a hospital breech birth at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, CA. The first week of January saw the waterbirth of our first 2017 twins born 45 minutes apart. The very next day we dropped off my daughter, Madeleine, at LAX on her way for her semester abroad in Barcelona. A month later I traveled to Barcelona to visit and we had a great time. Seeing the sites, sampling the food, the Salvador Dali Museum and catching a match between Barcelona and Real Madrid were all special. Not much better than Father-Daughter camaraderie.

Sadly, in late January, we lost my dad to his battle with father time. He lived a wonderful 96 years and will be missed (Reminder: You can hear some of his wisdom and humor when I had the good fortune to interview him on his 96th birthday at DrStusPodcast.com #100). Later in February I once again traveled with the charitable Cure Cervical Cancer team, this time to Vietnam. We spent just over a week teaching and screening for cervical cancer in the villages around Ha Long Bay. My stepson Max moved back to LA from Brooklyn so now all my kids are in the SoCal area and family gatherings were made that much easier. April saw the arrival of the Annual ACOG Meeting, this year in San Diego. While there was much to see and learn there was an obvious huge gap between the medical birth world and the midwifery one. I was inspired by the lack of acceptance of breech and limitations on VBAC and twins in the lectures to go on and acquire a breech trainer, Sophie and her mum. With the help of so many of you and a GoFundMe account I was able to raise nearly all of the $11,000.00. Thank you all so much. Happy to say the Sophie and her mum now reside in my apartment in downtown Los Angeles and are looking forward towards many journeys in 2018.

 

The month of May saw a well-attended ICAN event in Santa Barbara in support of VBAC. Dr. Emiliano Chavira, Dr. Terry Cole and Jen Kamel of VBAC Facts joined me and some eloquent VBAC mothers for an informative evening. We also had an emergency episode of Dr. Stu’s Podcast in support of our friend and colleague, Dr. Brad Bootstaylor in Atlanta. His local institution was trying to restrict legitimate birthing options. Funny, with more and more literature coming out supporting the importance of the microbiome and the concerning high cesarean rate you would like to think hospitals would be climbing on board instead of going backwards. Big sigh!

 

June saw me travel to NYC for a special night with an old friend and a dinner party in Manhattan. My friend worked for the United Nations and she and I were treated to a warm hug from Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, the spiritual leader better known as Amma. A very special moment. Another special moment came when a local ENT physician and his wife had a beautiful home waterbirth against the best advice from all his partners and medical colleagues. What do they know, anyway? In July, I was privileged to be invited to the swearing in ceremony to American citizenship of one of my clients along with several thousand new Americans. Another very special and moving moment. Only a month later she gave birth in her bed at home. Welcome Piper!

Congratulations to my long-time associate, Jason Rothbart, and his beautiful bride, Leigh on their August wedding in Spokane. Nature continued to show its wonder with the total eclipse that, for 3 minutes, mesmerized the country. All year long many visitors came to spend time with me, saw clients, attended a few births and pick my brain. I enjoy these interactions and they keep me on my toes. With the onset of Autumn, Nebraska Birth Keeper Angie Hock spent a week with the highlight being a Los Angeles, Kings hockey game, of course! September saw my colleague Rixa Freeze of Stand and Deliver blog fame and me submit a paper for peer reviewed journal publication comparing 60 home breech births with 109 home singleton cephalic births. We hope it will be out very soon. In October, Sophie and her mum held their first seminar with Dr. Stu attended by local midwives in Ventura. We are very excited with the expanding teaching schedule for 2018 and we are hopeful to get CME accreditation so we can attract doctors, residents and medical students to these events. (Check the calendar page on the web site)

November is often remembered as the month of Thanksgiving and this year there was much to be thankful for. Our student, Catalina, discovered some very exciting personal news. More to come on that in 9 months! Dr. Stu gave a talk on breech techniques at the 2017 MANA conference. And while not everyone seemed in the thankful mood this year it was nice to see so many old friends and colleagues. Congratulations to Dr. Stu’s niece and nephew on the unmedicated delivery of his great niece proving once again that good things can happen in the hospital setting. Dr. Stu’s daughter, Madeleine, turned 21 and she celebrated by going skydiving with her friends and drinking legally with her dad. The year ended on a sweet note with a Christmas HBAC in Santa Barbara proving once again that good things can happen in the home setting, too! As always, Dr. Stu and his staff want to express their gratitude to all the mothers and fathers and birth professionals who have supported the Birthing Instincts mission. Your trust and assistance provide the sustenance that keeps us going all hours of the night. Happy new year to you all.

 

2017 Birthing Instincts Statistics

 Total Clients in care: 45

Transfer of care prior to labor (TOC): 6

 

1)     Twins, 37 weeks, SPROM, A is footling breech

2)     VBAC, Macrosomia, Type 1 Diabetes

3)     Twins, VBAC SPROM at 34 weeks

4)     Twins, SPROM at 35 weeks

5)     VBAC, IUGR

6)     Twins, TTTS at 23 weeks treated with Laser therapy

 

 

Laboring Clients: 39

                  Primips: 21 (Includes 1st time mothers and VBAC mothers)

                  Multips: 18

 

Vaginal: 32 (82.1%) (Home Vaginal Delivery Rate is 72%)

                  NSVD:                      15

                  Vacuum:                4

                  Twins:                      2

                  Breech:                   9

                  VBAC:                       2

 

Transports: 11 (Rate 28%)

                  Cesarean:               7 (Rate 17.9%)

                  Vaginal:                                    4

 

Transports in Labor:

1)     Breech, VBAC, Hypertension (VD)

2)     VBA4C, Pain

3)     Breech, Arrest @ 6cm

4)     Br/Vtx Twins, Arrest @ 7cm

5)     Breech, Arrest @ 7cm

6)     Breech, Floating @ 5cm, Footling

7)     42 Weeks, Desired pain relief (VD)

8)     Breech, VBAC, 4+ Meconium at 8cm

9)     Twins, VBAC, Sharp suprapubic pain at 10cm

10)  VBA2C, Hypertension (VD)

11)  Primip, Vertex, Desired pain relief (VD)

 

Summary: 45 clients entered into care with Dr. Stu as the primary caregiver in 2017. Many entered into care late in their pregnancy because of newly discovered breech presentation and midwife care going beyond 42 weeks. Six of these women developed antenatal problems requiring a transfer of care to a hospital based physician. Of the 39 remaining, 32 delivered vaginally (82%). There were 11 transports with 4 of these delivering vaginally in the hospital and the remaining 7 transports having a cesarean section (18%). All 4 vacuums were at the request of midwives to assist with their laboring clients. As our practice has evolved we are seeing more clients with conditions considered high risk in the medical model as choices diminish resulting in higher cesarean section and transport rates than in previous years. Many local midwives are accepting VBAC clients with more confidence and Dr. Stu saw more than 20 of these women in consultation for VBAC “clearance”. While not required by California law, consultation gives reassurance to those midwives and clients who prefer a second opinion. Structural 20-week scans and dating ultrasounds as well as biophysical profiles continue to be offered to midwife clients in a reassuring environment. In addition, Dr. Stu continues to provide the option of repairing significant lacerations in the home setting when requested. We assisted births from San Luis Obispo to San Diego and even had one family relocate from Aspen, Colorado to have their twin birth plan honored.

All of us at Birthing Instincts, Inc are honored to be of assistance and provide these services to the families and practitioners who desire them, wherever they may be. 

 

Birthing on Her Terms

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After losing her first baby in the second trimester, Megan was deeply impacted by this experience and even questioned if she wanted an opportunity to become a mother again. Once she decided to get pregnant, she found herself “so hungry for knowledge – for anything that might help make this outcome different”. The more research she did, the more Megan wanted a natural childbirth and in the end stay away from hospital interventions. She planned for a natural birth in a birth center with a midwife. Then, one month before her due date, she was confronted with the possibility that her plan might go out the window. Her baby still presented breech (butt down) and was left with two options: plan for a scheduled cesarean with her back up doctor or continue care at the birth center and hire the only doctor in Southern California who attends out-of-hospital breech births, Dr. Fischbein. Going with her gut, she chose the latter and had the empowering birth experience she knew was possible. 

Tell me about your first pregnancy and how it impacted your decision to choose a midwife/birth center birth?

My first pregnancy was completely different than my second. I got pregnant as soon as we started to try and I was completely naïve about the whole process of childbearing. I didn’t know anything about being pregnant so I went by the book. I went to the OB-GYN who I had been seeing since college, and although I hadn’t begun to think too much about the birth, I am almost positive that it would have been in the hospital. It’s all I knew and I wasn’t in the mindset of going against the grain.

When we lost the baby, it rocked my world more than anything in my whole life. Our first baby had an extremely rare genetic condition, but in the back of my mind I was worried that maybe it was something I had or had not done that caused this. There was also a part of me that felt like my body failed me.

Since I had gotten pregnant quickly the first time, I hoped that that would be the case again, but it wasn’t. It took awhile and I started to doubt that I would ever get to experience another pregnancy or birth. When I finally got pregnant again, I was determined to do everything right. 

I also did not take one second for granted and from the very beginning, I decided to trust the process and have faith that my body would not fail me and that this outcome would be different. While I had a newfound trust, there was certainly fear though. In fact, there was a lot of fear that I had to work through.

The beginning of my pregnancy was very medical. I went back to the same doctor and was immediately labeled “high risk”. I alternated between that doctor and a perinatologist. I had a lot of appointments, ultrasounds, and tests. Every test and ultrasound came back perfect, and the further along I got, the more the fear of something going wrong with this pregnancy diminished.  

The real turning point happened at 22 weeks when my husband and I went on a road trip up the coast of California over the holidays. We needed some entertainment so decided to download an audiobook. We did a quick search for baby books and both took interest in a book called “The Business of Baby” (basically a more in depth version of Ricki Lake’s “The Business of Being Born” documentary).

This book went into detail about every aspect of pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and baby care in our country. The facts were both shocking and disturbing. So disturbing that at points I wanted to just turn it off and go back to my “ignorance is bliss” state of mind, but I couldn’t. My eyes were open and there was no turning back.

This is when I seriously started to think about a birth center or home birth setting. We returned from this trip with a completely new mindset and a list of questions to ask my OB. About three questions in at our return appointment and I could tell I was never going back. The big red flag was when my OB said that anyone who would consider a home birth is a “whacko”. Ha! We were definitely not a match.

Not long after this appointment, I decided to transfer my care to a midwife and prepare for a birth center birth. It definitely was not an easy decision and took a lot of soul searching but ultimately, I decided that there was no indication that this pregnancy was going to turn out like the last so I needed to go with my gut and have the pregnancy and birth experience that I (and my incredibly supportive husband) felt was right for me and our baby.

It was this mindset that allowed me to make the decisions I did later on when we found out that the baby was breech.

How did you know a vaginal breech birth was an option? 

Early in pregnancy, I read Ina Mays’ Guide to Childbirth. In it she talked a little bit about breech birth.  This was the first time I had really heard of it. At this point I was early in my pregnancy and didn’t think much about it.

Around 28 weeks, my midwife told me my baby was breech. We still weren’t very concerned since we had some time. Then at 32 weeks my midwife was pretty certain that my baby was still breech so she sent me to my back-up doctor (not Dr. Fischbein, who delivered my baby) for an ultrasound. He confirmed baby was in fact breech. At this point, I started trying everything – weekly chiropractic visits, acupuncture, inversions, swimming, even burning my toes with a moxa stick

At 36 weeks when baby was still breech it was time to really consider my options. My back-up doctor suggested that we schedule a c-section. My midwife and chiropractor were the ones who encouraged me to talk to Dr. Fischbein about the option of a vaginal breech birth. 

What helped assuage any fears around having a breech baby outside of the hospital? 

My consultation with Dr. Fischbein is what really assuaged any fears I had. He has a long list of boxes that must be checked off before you’re even considered a good candidate for a vaginal breech birth. Every one of those boxes were checked for us and he looked at us confidently and said, “There is no reason you shouldn’t have the beautiful, out-of-hospital birth you desire.“

For me, that was really all I needed to hear. From there, I spent the next few weeks watching breech birth videos and finding positive affirmations to remind myself that I could do this. 

I think it also helped that I had a gut feeling that this was just how my baby wanted to be born. I talked to the baby everyday and assured him or her (we didn’t know what we were having) that it would be okay and we would do this together. I may have actually been reassuring myself of this, but either way I found comfort in it.

Were your family or peers supportive of your decision to birth at home? 

Initially no, but in time yes although I didn’t tell anyone but my parents that I was going to have a vaginal breech birth at a birth center. I only told close friends and family of my plans to birth outside of the hospital and they were all concerned but respected my decision.

I knew that everyone would have an opinion and that while their opinions would come from a place of love, they would be uneducated ones. I truly felt that only I knew what was best for me and my baby and I didn’t want any negative comments or energy filling my mind.

What did you do to prepare for a healthy and smooth birth experience? 

I exercised regularly, kept a food journal to make sure I was eating a nutrient dense diet, visited the massage therapist and chiropractor regularly, prayed, and as I mentioned before talked to my baby a lot.

I also had a rock star birth team in place. Between my midwife, Dr. Fischbein and my husband, I had so much love and support. 

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Did you take a childbirth education preparation series. If so, how was it helpful in your birth experience? 

I did take a class. It was very helpful in preparing me for what to expect in each stage of labor. We also went over different movements, positions and breathing techniques that could be helpful during or in between contractions. Lastly, we were given exercises to do as a couple to help prepare us to work together during labor.

We also made a birth preference sheet for the in case scenario of needing to transfer to the hospital. While my husband I had already done a ton of research and were pretty much on the same page, this helped solidify our plans.

In addition, we had open discussions about our hopes and fears for the birth. I think it really helped to get all those things out in the open and work through them together before they potentially came up in the labor and birth.  

What activities or tools were helpful during the time of waiting for labor began? 

Walking and spending time with my husband helped a lot. Although I must admit that everyday past my due date I got more and more uncomfortable and more and more anxious for labor to begin.

Can you tell me about your labor and birth? 

I was a week and a half past my due date when I went into labor.

I had strong early labor contractions, which at first felt like intense period cramps for weeks and once I went into active labor, my daughter was born 27 hours later.

On the night of May 11th, my contractions picked up in frequency and intensity. These were stronger than I could have ever imagined. I couldn’t believe that my body was producing this sensation. It was almost an out of body experience. 

It wasn’t until the following day around 4 pm I made my way to the birth center. At this point, I was already exhausted from the labor and not having slept much the night before.

When I arrived at the birth center, I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be much longer. My midwife greeted me and I got comfortable in the birth room. Not long after, Dr. Fischbein arrived, although I didn’t see much of him until it was time to push. He let my midwife stay with me most of the time and gave me space to labor on my own. It was comforting though knowing that he was there when we needed him. 

I spent hours in the shower, in the tub and on the birth ball. I was so exhausted from the lack of sleep that around midnight I told my midwife I couldn’t do it anymore. I was so tired I couldn’t imagine mustering up the energy I would need to push my baby out.

At this point, she went to get Dr. Fischbein. As they were walking up the stairs, I heard them discussing our transfer plan and I started thinking, "Oh no, this is it. We really are going to transfer.” When they entered the room, Dr. Fischbein greeted me and very calmly and sweetly asked me how I was doing and if he may check me. I agreed. He checked my cervix and looked up at me and said confidently, “You can do this. It’s time to push. You’re going to have this baby right here, on this bed, right now.” His energy and reassurance was exactly what I needed at that moment to push through.

He could tell I was truly exhausted so he asked me to relax and look at him while he explained how I would push with each contraction. He didn’t want me to waste any unnecessary energy. Pushing was so much harder than I imagined, but once they could see my baby’s butt I had a new burst of energy come over me.

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After nearly 2 ½ hours of pushing, my daughter Eloise Rae was born at 3:32 am on Friday, May 13th. I pulled her up to my chest and excitedly announced, “It’s a girl!” She was perfect. I kept telling her what a good job she did making her way into the world and how proud I was that I was able to give birth to her exactly as she wanted to be born.

With the exhaustion and fear of not having enough energy, how did you best calm your mind and body in between contractions?

Being in water helped me a lot. I spent hours between the shower and the tub. I was also very vocal. Even between contractions, making deep primal sounds was soothing to me.

What surprised you about your birth experience? 

It was harder, more exhausting, and longer than I ever imagined, but I am still amazed at what my body is capable of. The female body is truly amazing.

What was the biggest take away from your experience?

Giving birth to my daughter on my terms was the most empowering experience of my life. It reassured me that I can do anything I put my mind to. 

Also, knowing my daughter now, it makes perfect sense that she was born butt first. She is a stubborn, determined, strong, bright light who does everything her way. Her birth prepared me to be the mother she needs me to be.

What words of wisdom would you pass onto to other mothers planning a natural birth, and specifically a breech birth out of the hospital?

Explore your options and go with your gut. Vaginal breech birth is not for everyone, but if it feels right to you and you have an experienced doctor (or in some states, midwife) as your support, it is absolutely possible.

*** This story was originally published on Milk Trails; a blog dedicated to out-of-hospital birth experiences.