North of England Breech Conference II

March 31-April 1, 2017

Julia & Harry: A parent's view: Having our breech babies in Sheffield

April 1, 2017

We had a lovely family talk about their two breech births: Julia & Harry. Julia first talked about the birth of Frank, her oldest, who is now 2 1/2. They had been trying to get pregnant for around 4 years and finally succeeded with AIUI. The whole process was very involved medically, with lots of scans and visits, and emotionally stressful.

They found out Frank was breech around 28 weeks, but initially Julia's providers told her not to worry, he might turn. Julia tried all sorts of natural techniques to encourage him to turn: moxabustion, acupuncture, inversions, swimming upside down, etc. Her providers booked her in for a cesarean, and at that point Julia's whole world crumbled. She hadn't realized how much emotional stress she was carrying. That last straw-to say we're going to just come in and take your baby out-made her feel powerless, like there wasn't anything she could do. Her whole life she had looked forward to giving birth. It was a very primal thing. And being told that she was going to have a cesarean really upset her.

Harry: If someone tells you you can't do something, you generally want to do it.

Julia: Julia told her midwife that she wasn't happy about the cesarean. She had wanted a home birth. Her midwife said, you know, there's a team who can do breeches! She got referred to Helen Dresner Barnes and felt so relieved that she'd have a chance to try. She did lots of reading and research and read other birth stories. Julia had a cesarean booked in, so she had a bit of deadline, but at least she had a deadline and some options. Julia went into labor naturally and was in a good head space: if I needed a cesarean, it would be fine. In the end, she had her baby vaginally in the hospital. Although the whole process of pregnancy was quite hands-on, the actual delivery day was very hands-off, with no intervention by the midwives. All three of them just let her do her thing to get him out.

Two years later, they weren't actively trying to get pregnant, and Julia wasn't having any periods. The doctor said she'd need to go through AIUI again to get pregnant. Julia went in a week later for a bloated belly and discovered that she was 4 moths pregnant! With the second pregnancy, the midwives were more hands-off. Julia had just one scan at 16-17 weeks.

Harry: Such an opposite experience form the first pregnancy.

Julia: Julia went into labor planning a home birth and thinking her baby was head-down. Florence came within 2 hours of labors tarting. Julia had the same team of midwives, who liked to care for "repeat offenders." She had Florence on her own. Sally, one of the midwives, arrived 10 minutes later.

Her two pregnancies were very very different experiences, from high intervention the first time and pretty much nothing the second time. Julia doesn't think the second time would have gone the way it did--the trust in herself, in her own instincts--without the first experience and having had the team there the first time.

The main thing Julia learned from her two breech experiences: "I wanted the power myself to be able to make an informed decision on what I was to do, whether it was to have a cesarean or not. You can only trust yourself if you have the support in order to feel you can trust yourself."

Harry: In hindsight with Frank, we were engaged with medical science and technology at every point. I was amazed at how instinct kicked in when labor started. And the breech team gave that space, that light touch, to let it kick in. That was the most surprising and, in hindsight, the most obvious thing I realized after Frank.

Julia: If we had known Florence was breech before she was born, there might have been more intervention.

Helen Dresner Barnes: I learned that Julia had a breech birth when I came into her home. Julia told me, "It was okay; I recognized what was happening. I don't know what I would have done if the baby was head first!"

Original conference report published here (with pictures).