North of England Breech Conference II

March 31-April 1, 2017

Helen Lowes: A parent's view: Hearing that our baby is breech

March 31, 2017

A local mother, Helen Lowes, spoke about her daughter born at the Jessops Wing in Sheffield. At 37 weeks, she discovered that her daughter was frank breech. She was booked for ECV and introduced to Helen Dresner Barnes and the Sheffield Breech Birth Service (part of the Citywide 1:1 midwifery team). Helen gave her lots of information about delivering a baby breech. Her ECV was scheduled at 39 weeks, but ultimately she decided to decline it for many reasons.

Helen decided to have a vaginal breech birth but was also booked for a cesarean around the end of her 40th week. However, she had a change of plans and didn't consent to the CS at 40 weeks. Instead, she pushed it back to 42 weeks. During this time, her daughter changed from frank to complete breech. As her cesarean date loomed closer, Helen changed plans again and pushed the surgery back to 42+6, which was quite unusual. 

She was very opposed to induction during her pregnancy, but at this point she began all sorts of natural remedies! But keeping the baby in had some benefits: at 42+2 weeks, she graduated with her 2nd master's degree. Then she asked if Helen Dresner Barnes and her team would bend or break the rules a little to help her go into labor, and they did. So she had a stretch & sweep at 42+3 and again at 42+5. She went into labor. Ultimately, she dilated to 3 cms and ended up with a cesarean instead of a vaginal breech birth.

What was important to her? Why did she make the choices she did?

For Helen, she wanted to be her; she wanted to have autonomy over her own body. Helen remarked, "When you become pregnant, it's almost like you have to do everything for the baby." She valued making informed choices, rather than choices made under pressure. "It's easier to say yes than to say no and to ask why and what are the risks."

Helen made this poignant remark: "You'll never know the consequences of the option you didn't take." She wanted to experience labor. It was important to her, and she was prepared for it. She wasn't against a cesarean, but she only wanted one when it was needed.

The key word in her journey of having a baby in unusual circumstances was Empowered. "As a woman, you feel that your power is given to your baby. And while you don't want to put your child at risk, you want to be able to make your own choices." She appreciated Helen Dresner Barne's sometimes "brutal" honesty; it helped her be able to make choices.

Helen Lowes finished by urging the care providers in the room to can pass on their knowledge about breech so other women can benefit from it.

Comment by Cathy Warwick: Yes, it's easier to say yes than to say no to what's offered medically. Even among very well-educated women, they still say things like "Am I allowed to do that?" when it comes to healthcare.

Original conference report published here (with pictures).