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Fear Was Not an Option: My Breech Baby Flipped

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At home appointment, with Maria, the midwife.

I could feel that the baby was breech for a few days.  At 36 weeks and some odd days, I could feel the baby’s head up near my diaphragm.  I could feel kicking up high, but I was sure that the little round thing near my ribs was a head because when I poked and prodded it, it was far too round and hard and far too responsive to touch to be a bum.  My midwife, Maria, of Gold Coast Midwifery Practice was coming for an appointment.  I didn’t say anything about baby being breech, I wanted her to feel for herself… maybe I was wrong?  But, no, when she went to have a feel, she clearly felt it… she asked me, ‘do you think your baby is breech?’.  Ahhh!!! My suspicions were right all along, Maria felt it too, a frank breech baby on board!  Maria had told me from the start that she wouldn’t do a breech home birth.  She would support me in hospital, but not at home.  Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be giving birth at home with a breech baby anyway…

Initially, I wasn’t overly concerned, I thought at 36 weeks, I still had plenty of time for the baby to turn.  But, Maria was onto it.  She was saying that, yes, it was very possible that the baby would flip, but if the baby didn’t, we had to have a plan in place.  I would have to get an ultrasound the next day to confirm if bub was breech.  If baby was breech and didn’t turn, would I still opt for a vaginal birth?  If so, would the type of breech be ok for a vaginal birth?  And, would I be able to find an obstetrician in the hospital who would support my decision to deliver a breech baby?  Oh, what a pain!

After going over all of the logistics of having a breech baby on board, then she came to the core of the matter… I was a bit shaken by what Maria did next!  She started  to grill me!  Cook me, sort of!  ‘Now, Kate, what’s going on in your head?  Are you 100% comfortable giving birth at home?  Do you feel comfortable with me as your carer?, etc’.  I could feel myself getting really uncomfortable.  ‘OMG, I thought!  She’s my midwife, not a mind reader. She’s a midwife, not a psychologist… right?!  Does she know about some insecurity that even I don’t know about, myself???’  This was Maria, very professional, not very biased on any one issue, always listening carefully to all my concerns, never confrontational, etc.  And, here she was forcing me dig deep to see what was going on inside my head!  I’ve only been in this situation of deep self examination a few times in my life.  I was starting to squirm and itch inside!  I could feel this huge lump growing in my throat.  We started talking more and more about it.  Was there a reason in my head why this baby was not on its head?  Well… emmmm… maybe… ummm…  so I hemmed and hawed and finally it came bubbling up…. YES!  I’M SCARED!  Ok, now we were getting somewhere… what was I scared of?  It was hard for me to put my finger on it, at first.  So many people had been unsupportive of me having a homebirth.  Everyone from family to strangers on the street.  I was afraid of something…  What if something happened during the birth?  All those people would be wagging their fingers at me, ‘See, I TOLD you so!’.

I’m sure I’m not the first person who was planning a homebirth to have those thoughts.  But, then Maria told me, forget about these non-supporters, what about you and Art?   He’s the person you have to live with the rest of your life, if something were to happen, would it be okay with you and Art. Because, things happen at home AND they also happen in a hospital!  And, the answer was ‘YES!, any outcome of our homebirth would have to be ok, because we had made the homebirth decision together.  I wish Art had been there for the appointment.  I thought about what he would say and he would probably tell me to stop being such a worry wart!  I believed in my body and I had confidence in my carers.  I wasn’t going to let FEAR be the reason why I would opt out of a homebirth!  And, if something went wrong during the homebirth, I would just have to stand by my decision with 100% conviction that I had made my informed decision to homebirth based on education and knowledge.  Ok, so Maria left our appointment at that.  I had a huge sob, Margo had never seem me cry like that before.

Margo went out for her nap soon after and I had a long sadhana session (yoga, meditation and breathing), that I’ve been doing every day for over ten years, learned from the Art of Living Foundation.  I was so tired from all the talking and worrying, it was such a relief.  Before I opened my eyes from meditation, I went through in my head, all the emergency praying, ‘Please God, make this baby flip, etc.’.  And, then I went through, in my head, what I would do if my baby decided not to flip.  I went through everything I would have to do in order to deliver the baby naturally, if it was in a frank breech position like we had suspected.  A frank breech baby is supposedly the ‘best’ breech position for natural delivery, especially if it’s not your first.  I even went over how I would not let the hospital scare me into having a cesarean, unless absolutely necessary.  I imagined myself in this ‘I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR’ situation in the hospital, where I would just deliver my baby breech if that’s what I had to do!  I was probably more terrified to have a caesar than to push a breech baby out!

Just before I opened my eyes, I felt all this squirming around in my tummy, and there was no mistake, I knew, the baby had flipped right then!  Later that night, I felt hiccups way way low (directly on my butt to be exact), and that gave me extra hope.  Also, that afternoon, I had a GP appointment, with this awesome doctor, Dr. Rassaby, of Tweed Banora Medical Centre, who supports homebirths (had 4 of his 5 children at home) and he wasn’t concerned at all!  He said, oh you have heaps of time, and besides, you can deliver a breech baby, no probably, his daughter did at home…  That made me feel better too.  The whole next day before the scan, I kept poking and prodding this thing that I was sure was a bum.  The ‘bum’ didn’t move like the head did before.  I even told Art repeatedly that I thought the baby flipped.  We had the scan… and I was right… baby had flipped.

That really shows the power of the mind.  I’m not saying every breech baby can be turned this way.  I don’t know, maybe baby would have turned even if I hadn’t done all the crazy meditating, praying and worrying!  Maybe all I had to do was sit back and have a cup of tea… I learned later that some babies are breech because that’s the safest position for them!  And, babies up until the 1970’s and 80’s were routinely delivered breech, even if it wasn’t the desired position.  But, that Maria, man, she really got me to dig deep.  Our little ‘scare’ was actually a wake up call for me to dig my heels in on my decision to homebirth.  That conviction, that I could do it at home, come what may, was solidified. I was fully capable and not AFRAID.  Also, it made me realize that the relationship between a mother and her unborn baby is very strong!  Your mind has to be clear, no matter where you plan to birth or what your situation!  I was prepared to do anything to make the baby go head down, acupuncture, standing on my head, etc.  But, all I had to do was sort of ask the baby to flip, imagine it happening and beg and plead with the divine (I only beg and plead in emergencies).  Maybe I also have a very accommodating baby?  And, what a blessing to have such an awesome midwife.  And, how sneaky she was!  Seeming all nice and sweet and then busting out some drill sergeant-mind-reading-interrogation on me!  Of course, I didn’t know I only had another 2 weeks to go before Goldie came flying out one Friday afternoon!  And, everything was like a dream, our homebirth went smoothly and beautifully (even though it was all a bit last minute). Now, can I wag my finger at all those people who didn’t believe in me?  ‘See, I TOLD you it was the right thing to do!’

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