Nicola was devastated when a Dr declared her only option was a c-section due to her baby being breech, but she ended up having an incredible, empowered drug-free birth with a lot of support, some brilliant self-advocacy and a little help from one of our TENS machines.
My pregnancy was a bit of a journey. I had HG and so vomited the entire time. I also had severe back pain that meant I had to halve my working hours, so I was so ready to get this party started! We started a digital hypnobirthing course at 30 weeks and along with hiring the tens machine it was one of the best decisions we made!
At 40 weeks we found out he was breech. We’re not sure if he turned last minute or it had been undiagnosed. But I had asked for an additional check on his position to find out if he was engaged. 3 midwives couldn’t tell so we went up to the hospital for a scan. Unfortunately Levi wasn’t with me, but I wish I had of asked him to join! The doctor took about 2 seconds flat to confirm he was breech and said ‘we don’t do breech births here, and it’s too late to turn him, he’ll have to be born via c section’. And then he patted me in a consolatory way and left. I was so devastated, the birth we’d been visualizing was out the window and all of our options were taken away. He left me with my midwife to discuss and after a few tears I took some deep breaths and remembered to use my BRAIN. I asked a lot of questions. What if I wanted to try for a natural breech birth? Could they possibly try and turn him if there’s another doctor willing to try the next day? Can we find out more information about what type of breech etc? What if I go into labour overnight?
My midwife was very supportive of me still having a vaginal birth and was willing to question the initial result for me. She called another doctor who was more experienced with breech births but wasn’t in that day. He said that if 4 things were right, there’s no reason they shouldn’t attempt an ECV or even a breech birth if I go into spontaneous labour. He had to be not too big, still in plenty of fluid, a Frank Breech (both legs up) and not tangled in his cord. My midwife referred me for a diagnostic ultrasound the next day and we met all of the criteria!! The ultrasound tech said to us if I was you I wouldn’t go home. Call your midwife and go straight up to the maternity ward to see if they can try an ECV now. So we did this and she organized for another member of her team to come join us to try the ECV if a doctor on call was happy to try. Luckily he was!
We were monitored for about an hour beforehand to get his heart rate baseline, I was told on 3 separate occasions it would not be pleasant and was given some medicine to relax my uterus, put Ariana Grande on my headphones (Imagine) and did up breathing through the whole procedure. They said it’s up to baby and you to both relax for this to be successful. It was uncomfortable but bearable and the doctor flipped him on the first try!!!! We were ecstatic!
So at 40+1 (Wednesday) we were back to our birth plan of waiting for him to tell us he was ready and a natural vaginal birth. This made me so much more determined to go through with the birth I wanted!
I spent the next few days trying to walk when I could, drinking 1L of iced raspberry leaf tea a day, bouncing on the ball (I found rolling my hips actually better it made more pressure down there), rubbing myself down in clary sage essential oils and making love!
On Saturday (40+4) I slept till about 11 am which was unusual for me as I’d been waking at 2 am unable to sleep for about 2 weeks beforehand!! I had cramps randomly through the afternoon and Levi cooked a beautiful stew while we binge watched Dirty John for the afternoon. I started using the Freya app to time what I thought might be surges at around 4pm. They were still very mild, sporadic and short (about 30 seconds) but I wanted to record them to see if I was actually going into labour. The last episode finished at 10pm and Levi suggested we try to get some sleep in case this was it. Well as soon as we turned the TV off it was like bam - you’re in early labour now! From then on surges were about every 3.5 minutes for 45 secs to a minute. I let Levi get a bit of sleep and went downstairs on my own. I lit an oil burner, put candles everywhere, put our birth playlist on (Varkala by Maribou State was my absolute favourite song I cried every time it came on!) and laboured through the night. I found I needed to pee all the time so split my time between leaning on the kitchen bench and slowly kind of cycling my legs / lifting my ankles / swaying my hips and sitting on the toilet. For about 3 hours they were quite mild. After about 3 hours they intensified a bit and I woke Levi. He put the tens machine on my back and came downstairs with me. We spent the surges hugging and swaying or kissing and in between he cleaned the entire house including vacuuming and two loads of washing (this was amazing because we came home to a spotless house with leftover stew ) I drank loads of coconut water and ate all the snacks I’d pre made to take to the hospital (cheese on crackers and protein balls).
Even though the surges were pretty regular we thought we’d try get through till 7am before calling the midwife. We knew they’d want us to stay at home as long as possible! I got very tired around 5am, after being on my feet all night and lay down on the couch. This slowed my surges right down to about one every 7 minutes and it was a bit disheartening to see the app go back to blue (it goes green when you’re in established labour, and I had been pretty much since 10pm!). I tried to stand again but they stayed like that till about 6 when I decided to jump in the shower. Levi came in with me and we did lots of kissing which led to mid labour sex! Was not expecting that but it was very good (probably all the blood down there!) and figured it could only be good in helping this progress / oxytocin production / relaxing my cervix!
At 7am we called the midwife. She offered to come around and check me since he’d been breech and make sure he was still head down. I had another shower and she arrived around 9. She said she could definitely feel a head and that I was 1cm but my cervix was paper thin and very soft. She said that’s often the longest part so I’d done well! She offered a stretch and sweep and I accepted. I didn’t feel any discomfort. She recommended we try to get some sleep and call her back when the surges are 3 in 10 minutes, lasting a minute each, for at least 2 hours (321).
We lay back down and snuggled. I dozed in between surges and boosted the tens each surge till I couldn’t lie down any more because they were too intense, however they were still quite sporadic.
Some time in the afternoon the surges became quite intense and I began to cry a lot / sob through surges. They were more intense than I thought and it’s so hard not knowing how much longer you have to go! In my head I was like it could still be days of this at this point! Levi was so great he just kept bringing me drinks and food till I felt like I couldn’t eat or drink anymore and started to feel sick / vomit regularly through the surges.
At around 2 I begged Levi to call the midwife and ask her if I was ready to go to the hospital. My surges weren’t at that 321 yet. Mostly they were close together (2-3 minutes) and between 1-2 minutes long but every now and then I’d have like 7 minutes between surges. She listened and said yep they sound intense but I’m not there yet, keep going as long as I can. We jumped back in the shower and there I stayed for about 2 hours. The water definitely helped the intensity. Hubby rubbed my back and said nice things to me the whole time. He would rub my shoulders down to remind me to relax them during surges and remind me to take deep breaths. I vomited a lot in the shower!
At about 4 I felt a bit stressed and like I needed to go to the hospital and it’s an hours drive from where we are! Hubby called the midwife again and she said she’d come round and check our progress. She was there pretty quick and said my heart rate was a little elevated due to dehydration and we would normally stay at home a bit longer but if we went in now she’d get me on an IV which might help. She said I was 4-5 cm and was very happy with that and said I’d made amazing progress! I was a bit disheartened to hear I was only half way but her optimism helped Hubby faffed around putting everything in the car and getting it all ready which annoyed me as somehow we weren’t ready to leave till about 5.00! I didn’t even realize at the time but she’d told him to stretch it out as long as possible. As we were about to leave I said ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do this car ride’ and Levi said ‘it’s ok it won’t take long’. Somehow I believed him and off we went to have a baby!
In the car I put Beyoncé - Lemonade on and literally zoned out. I think I slept between surges and before I knew it we were there! Between parking the car and walking to the birth suite I threw up 3 times and had 4 surges 🥴 as they were admitting me I was leaning on the wall thinking ‘I should’ve just said yes to the c section!’ I think that was my lowest point and looking back now I think was the start of transition.
They got me in our room which the midwife had already set up nice and dark with led candles and fairy lights. They got an IV in, gave me a dose of maxolon (thankfully the vomiting stopped!) and I jumped in the shower again till I felt like I needed to poo and just wanted to sit on the toilet. I asked my midwife when she’d check me again to see how dilated I was, she said she would at 8.30. This was at 7pm and I could see the clock from the toilet so I just kind of focused on getting to 8.30! I’d planned to have a waterbirth and was happy to have gas / air for pain relief and kind of thought after that 8.30 I’d be able to get in the tub and have that! My midwife was in and out so I thought she was getting everything ready but I think she actually knew how close I was and didn’t want to tell me I couldn’t go in the tub because of my heart rate. They kept checking mine and bubs heart rate and soon the mooing started. With every contraction my whole body was pushing down, my legs were lifting up and I was shaking! Levi kept saying relax, take deep breaths and stroking my shoulders. I felt like I was on another planet though I literally couldn’t see or hear anything during contractions - it was crazy.
The one thing the midwife said about the surges that helped was “you only have to get through the peak. After that it’s all down hill. Just breathe it out of your body and let it go. You don’t need to hold onto it.”
I still thought I was a while off till my midwife said we’ll have to get you to stand up now as it’s a bit hard to catch first babies on the toilet! I didn’t realize we were so close! I leaned over and held the back of a chair while standing in the shower (water off). I could feel his head coming down with each surge. This was probably the best part because although the surges were intense I knew we were about to meet him! I was trying to just breathe through the surges, but the midwife said I could push a little to help him come down a bit more each time. Within a few surges I felt that ring of fire, which is exactly as it sounds! During this time I did a few small poos, and think I felt myself tear in a couple spots but it was literally the last thing anyone cared about. Levi kept telling me how well I was doing and kissing me and saying ‘you’re so beautiful’ which is like his equivalent to I love you. Next surge I pushed through it and out popped his head! That moment was so surreal! The midwife said next surge his shoulder will come out and then his other shoulder, we’ll catch him and pass him through your legs to you. I could feel his little head just in limbo there! Next surge he was born and he cried quite quickly, they passed him through to me and I just stood up and was like omg we did it!!! We had a baby!!! Hello little boy / grumpy old man!!!
They wheeled the bed to the door and I carried him over to it. We lay down together and he just squirmed about on my chest while we all looked at each other! It was so cool!!
I’d requested a physiological third stage but the placenta wasn’t coming out as quickly as they’d like. After some time they clamped and cut the cord (I asked them to check if it had stopped pulsing and it had) and Levi has skin to skin while I delivered the placenta on the toilet. It’s crazy how much less intense the surges are after the baby comes out and again after the placenta comes out. I got to lay back down with him and soon after he latched on for the first time. The midwives were doing some calculations and told me I’d lost a bit too much blood (post partum hemmorage / PPH) so they had to call the doctors in. Next thing we had about 4 extra people in the room and they explained to me I’d have to have the injection + a drop of oxytocin and a few other medicines I can’t remember to stop the blood loss and help my uterus contract. They were very calm and explained everything, I never felt afraid but also didn’t have any questions I just agreed as I felt it was best at this point! They also had to do a few stitches which they said were first degree tears. I would have asked them if I could get away without them had I not lost all that blood but they had said they need to control all areas of blood loss. In the birth suite you head home after 6 hours if everything’s ok, but due to the PPH they wanted me to stay overnight so they could check my bloods in the morning. I had a catheter inserted and baby had all his checks. He was perfect!!!
The midwife said ‘my body was made to give birth’ and the student midwife said my labour would be her dream labour so that made me super proud!
Next day my bloods came back good, just have to take iron and vit c supplements and we were discharged that afternoon! We’ve been at home now over a week and life is good! He’s breastfeeding and sleeping well and we’re all in a loved up newborn snuggle bubble!
You can hire a TENS to support your natural birth experience right here.