"My husband and I tried for years to become pregnant with no luck so we sought the help of a fertility doctor in Seattle. We learned shortly after our first appointment that our chance of conceiving naturally was less than 2%. We made the decision to do invitro fertilization about a year after our first fertility consultation and we succeeded with the first try. I was released to my normal midwife for prenatal care at the end of my first trimester.
I had a normal, uneventful pregnancy until about 37 weeks. My midwife said she thought she felt the baby’s head up close to my rib cage and his bottom down by my pelvis. She did a vaginally exam to see if she could feel the baby’s anatomy this way. She was pretty sure of the baby’s position but wanted to be positive so she sent me in for an ultrasound. It was confirmed during my ultrasound that my son was in a Frank Breech position which means his bottom was engaged in my pelvis and his legs were stretched all the way up by his face.
At this point my team of midwives gave me every resource they knew of to turn the baby. I spent a week trying everything! Inversion poses, doing handstands while swimming, acupuncture, cold packs, peppermint essential oil, music…nothing was working.
At 38 weeks I went in to the hospital for a procedure called external cephalic version. During this procedure they try to manually turn the baby with their hands on the outside of my body. The doctor I saw had a high success rate and we felt good about our appointment. When I arrived, the nurse took my vitals and gave me a medication called Terbutaline...It relaxes the uterus and prevents contractions from happening making it easier to manually move the baby into the correct position. The doctor came in and put A LOT of ultrasound jelly on my belly so his hands would slide easily over my skin and explained what he would be doing. He began putting pressure on my belly to move the baby…he could get the baby into a vertical position and the baby would just slide back into his comfy breech nest. He tried a few more times and was unsuccessful. I was extremely sore and discouraged. He wanted to try again the next week so we continued our efforts to turn him at home and returned the next week for another try. Again, he was unsuccessful and we had to discuss a plan of action with our midwives ASAP.
I could not have a home birth as I planned and a few of the midwives said a cesarean section was inevitable because no doctor would let me deliver vaginally. One of the midwives had the name of an OBGYN up north that was known to deliver breech babies vaginally if the women met the very specific criteria. Two days later we were on our way up to Island hospital to meet the doctor and see if I qualified.
Hallelujah I did!! The doctor did an ultrasound and measured my amniotic fluid to make sure it was adequate, she measured the baby to confirm the approximate size, she measured my pelvis structure and the fact that I was a second-time mom gave me the clearance to head up when my water broke for a vaginally deliver.
At 11:25pm on May 5th my water broke in bed after a contraction that woke me up. We got dressed, called the doctor, and headed up north to the hospital. My mom and older son met us up there. I wasn’t having regular contractions so my husband and I sent them to a nearby hotel and we tried to sleep.
Shortly after everyone left and the lights went out (1:00am), contractions picked up and I was in active labor within an hour. I walked around my room and labored until about 5am when I felt the first urge to push. The doctor came in a said, “Ok Caitlin you’re fully dilated, up on your hands and knees, you’re going to push your baby out and no one is going to touch him until he is completely out”. During the first couple of contractions my sons bottom and legs came out (He pooped the entire time which meant no meconium poops at home, score!). Each arm came out and then I heard the doctor firmly tell me to keep pushing even if I didn’t have the urge. Since my baby’s body wasn’t pushing on my sacrum (because it was already born) I wouldn’t have the urge to push anymore but I still had his whole head to get out. I pushed hard for about 2 minutes solid, taking small sips of air, and his head was born.
He was a little shocked when he came out so they cut the cord and checked him out before they gave him back to me. He recovered quickly, they checked his hips…normal, took my breast within 20 minutes, I didn’t have any tears, and we were home within 12 hours.
I feel forever grateful for this angel of a doctor for believing I could deliver this way, for continuing to practice this ancient art of breech delivery, and for being available for us that night. We still continue to send her updated pictures of my son every year. " - Doula and Student Midwife Caitlin West
Articles, stories and resources:
The art of breech birth on all fours
My healing birth
Vaginal Breech Revolution