Set alight: Natural vaginal "footling" breech


Submitted anonymously

I will preface this with a little note: I am a methodical person. I have a plan for everything and every situation. I cannot cope when there are no plans. My birth story is on anon because not everyone will understand the various decisions that were made by various people. I would not share this story if I didn't feel it needed to be told. Some people have a calling to pray for people; I have a calling to help inform people and try to be part of a change. Those who know me will know who it is, and that's all that matters. 

The basics: Second pregnancy after a hospital setting--my first born was huge and his birth had multiple interventions but ultimately a vaginal delivery. I had midwife-led care throughout by an excellent birth team. No hypnobirthing that I could stick to for more than one track or whatever it's called. I was borderline on bed rest for most of it because I was so sore. I have had previous medical trauma in both private and government settings so I was not going to deal with a medicalized birth. The baby was breech, and she was not willing to turn at all--failed at every gentle intervention possible. Other than that, she was a great pregnancy.

My midwife and I parted ways understandably at the point where the ECV failed to work, and she was not comfortable with assisting a vaginal breech birth. At that point I was coming down with the flu or something and had very little alternatives. I began researching and looking for a midwife that would take me on so late in the game at 40 weeks and with a breech delivery. I also looked for alternatives such as unassisted birth, should I need to do it myself in the event that I went into labor without settling on a planned c-section or hospital birth, etc. Planning for any birth, I had looked up the best possible ways of doing it unassisted should I need to do it myself, considering that life is unpredictable.

I finally found a midwife that would care for me at 40 weeks and help me bring my baby earthside with a natural delivery. I put my fears aside and carried on after a stressful week of being sick, dealing with a child, and also life--compounded with work stress too!

I got to 40+6, and I was hit with a horrific headache, it lasted over a day and knocked me shitless. I got my blood pressure checked at 41 weeks on Friday It was perfect. My migraine finally broke on the Saturday morning--after I had spent the day sleeping and eating nothing else.

Saturday, I walked around, went to pick up frozen meals, had lunch with my mom, and just carried on as if I was still to be pregnant at 50 weeks. I never got that feeling of I really hate this, I want it over with--I was patient with my pregnancy even if I did not enjoy it. I just carried on as per usual.

I felt tired and had an afternoon nap. I went to bed a little earlier; I just wasn't feeling like being up late. I am a night owl naturally and stick to being awake later into the night most nights.

At around 10:45pm, I woke up with a fright and felt like I had peed the bed. I got up and waddled to the bathroom. I told my partner that I had suspected it was my water. I sat down on the loo and told the midwife. I put a pad on and started getting ready to drive an hour to the midwife. She suggested she come to us--I said no, we can drive it fine.

We got ready and got my little human into the car at about 11.30 pm. We got there at 00:45. Contractions started just before we got there, and I was not enjoying them. Once there, we got ready. She left me be and checked in where needed at exactly the right times--her style of midwifery suited me fine. My partner stayed with me and rubbed my back, and supported me. I had the urge to sit backward on the toilet and also on a chair for a while.

I switched to my side on the bed for a bit, and at about 2.20 am, I got a timer out to time the contractions; they were ramping up at 2.34 am. I hit the timer away from me as I got up, which was the last contraction I timed, and moved off the bed and had to pee. I told my partner to call the midwife because I was feeling it really bad. There was just pain all around and I felt irritated that I couldn't put my undies and soaked cloth pad away into a wet bag. I could barely get up off the toilet; I was so sore during a contraction. I had already felt the urge to push on the toilet, which I did for one push.

I eventually got down onto the ground and kneeled next to the bath at her instructions. And from there, I sort of just let my body do its thing. It was intense, and I blanked out a bit. The next thing I know is I felt something hitting the back of my thigh. I was feeling neurotic at this point because I was aware that before the thing hit my thigh, a huge spray of amniotic fluid had come out, and there was some white gunk on my leg. I was so conscious about making a mess. I was then preoccupied with "what the hell touched my thigh?" It was cold and weird and just there. My partner and the midwife told me it was a foot. I closed my eyes and thought not a chance in hell. what the fuck.

I pushed again. I don't know how many times I pushed. She asked me to move my leg up, and I did--I did not like that. So I went back to kneeling. I moved between sitting back down, kneeling, and moving my legs out, knees inwards and around. I was acutely aware that the leg was kicking... A dull, thick thud on my thigh and butt. It felt like a frog's leg kicking me. You will know what I mean if you have picked up a frog and felt its legs kicking. Cold and odd... 

After a push or two or three, I don't know how many, baby's butt came out with the ring of fire. I also know at that point the midwife did a check, during which I screamed. I reached down and felt it and felt my baby and I pushed more.

At some point in all of this I literally heard my partner kiss my head and tell me he is proud of me--and I kept thinking is he okay cause this baby isn't out yet and won't be for a while. I was really confused--very grateful for that support--but really really confused. I felt utter relief rush over me as the rest of her came out, body and head, in one push at 2:55 am. 

I just stayed there on my haunches while they moved her, before I could settle down and hold her in my lap, as we worked to get mucous out of her. From there it was skin to skin and waiting till the first latch and then allowing the cord to do its thing. We crawled into a bed for a while. We got the placenta out and I got checked--not one single tear. I am super lucky. 

I cannot fault my midwife's care, and her care is a testament to how ALL midwives should be. We intrinsically place fear in birth because we no longer trust ourselves. Our trust in the self has been beaten out of us, and I am here to try beat it back into the world.

I don't trust doctors and western interventions, simply because I trust in myself and my ability to do what I need to do to get things done. I trust my ability to heal and to function. There is a place and a time where doctors and western intervention is needed. However, I reserve my right to check in with my body and to know that when the time is right it will be right to trust those interventions. But until then, I will do things the way that my body intended them to be done.

And If that means pushing a baby foot first out into this world--then so be it. It was my best birth and I have healed so much trauma. I have also been set alight and rekindled a fire in my soul.

Weight: 4.15k
Length: 57cm
Birth: Natural Vaginal - Footling Breech

Image from an undiagnosed breech birth with a dropped foot, similar to what happened in this story