When you find out at 38.5 weeks that your baby is breech | Birth story of Ellie
By Mirte van Veen
I met Mirte and Joppe during my HypnoBirthing course. Super positive and relaxed couple, preparing for a home birth of their first baby. We stayed connected via yoga classes with Mirte. And then one Friday during our morning yoga, when Mirte was almost 39 weeks, she shared that they just found out that her baby was breech. Following with: 'Ah well, then it's gonna be a breech birth.'
And that's exactly what they did. They had a beautiful natural birth of their breech baby girl, Ellie. Nothing more, nothing less.
Thank you Mirte for sharing your story, being a proof of the super powers that we have, which we so often do not realize.
A routine check up
At 38.5 weeks pregnant (on a Tuesday) we went to the obstetrician for a normal check-up. Everything was okay, the heartbeat, my belly size but when she checked the position of the baby there was a strange look on her face. According to her our baby’s butt was a little too round and hard. So, she wanted to do a quick ultrasound to check if the baby wasn’t breech. Me and Joppe were joking around about it because I was a breech baby myself and we didn’t think that the chance that our baby was breech as well was a high one. However, within one second of the ultrasound the obstetrician saw that our baby was breech. Probably meant to be! As I was planning on a home birth, this was quite a shock to us as with a breech baby you cannot deliver at home. Luckily, we were very relaxed about it and as we said to each other before, if it would be a hospital birth we didn’t mind and we would go with the flow.
Spinning the baby
Because there is a chance you can spin the baby by means of an external cephalic version (ECV), we immediately planned this for the next day (being a Wednesday) with an obstetrician that was specialized in ECV. The ECV-obstetrician was a very calm and kind woman who tried to spin our baby with the help of just some oil and her hands. The ECV procedure is quite unnatural as your instinct is to protect your belly area and especially when you carry a baby. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to spin our baby but she was quite optimistic it would work if we went to the hospital and tried it there. She planned an appointment for us (where she would be present as well to help spin the baby) in the hospital (OLVG West) on Thursday (the next day). The ECV in the hospital was done by two women together and I was administered a muscle relaxer to help relax my uterus so the ECV would have a higher chance of success. But again, our baby was stubborn and she didn’t turn.
C-section or vaginal birth
After a talk with a gynecologist that same day we were given the choice between a planned c-section or a vaginal birth, both with their own pro’s and con’s. Joppe and I went home with a lot to think about and in the end we decided to try to have a natural birth and as my mom did it too with my birth 30 years ago, I was very confident I could do this too. Joppe and I did try to spin the baby at home with the help of Moxa-sticks and positions and movements to turn the baby (I even laid upside down on an ironing board, which was very funny and we documented everything!). We did that for two days (being the Saturday and Sunday) and while she did move a lot, she did not do a backflip and she stayed in a breech position.
Sunday night at 3 am (so technically Monday) my water broke and at 3:30 am I felt the first very light surges. We tried to have some sleep, but of course with some surges and the thought that we would have a baby probably by the end of the day, we could not sleep. The next day at breakfast (being the Monday) my surges were a little more intense but still not very uncomfortable. We called the hospital a little earlier than one normally does as we of course had a breech baby and things are a bit different. We had to come in for a check up and had to bring our hospital bags with us just in case.
At the hospital
At 10:30 am we arrived at the hospital and a scan was made of our baby’s heart to check if she was okay, which she was. Immediately after this at 12 pm we were seen by the hospital’s obstetrician and he confirmed that I was having surges (which he saw on the scan and I was doing my breathing techniques and moving a lot to help ease the surges) and checked to see how much I was dilated. I was already 2 centimeters dilated so they decided that we would be staying in the hospital and we were sent to a birthing suite.
After a while we had some lunch which we ate while sitting on the floor because it was nice and cold and this was the only position which was comfortable to eat as I could easily turn on all fours to move during a surge. But I was not hungry at all and we also brought snacks with us to the hospital (dates and homemade bars) which we did not eat as it was all going so quickly.
To help ease the surges I used the breathing techniques we had learnt during hypnobirthing, we varied positions, used a birthing ball and Joppe used the rebozo on me and massaged me in between surges. We were in a very relaxed state of mind and we really felt like a team. We would rock this birth! At 2 pm I was already dilated 5 centimeters and the surges were getting more intense. At one moment I had three surges in a row with no break in between, followed by a one minute break and then three surges again and so on: I was having a storm of contractions (weeënstorm).
At this moment the surges were so intense and with no breaks in between that I opted for morphine. This was great and helped to take off the sharp edges of the surges. I could even talk and laugh again!
At 4 pm I started to feel the urge to push and I alerted the team on hand. They checked and I was already 10 centimeters dilated. I just had to wait for the gynecologist to arrive. I had to resist the urge to push for only ten minutes, but it was so unnatural and therefore quite difficult to do so. However, I did it and when the gynecologist arrived, I could start to push which was a strange transition to actually push.
I did my pushing in two positions on the bed and the last one in which the baby was born was on my knees and my arms leaning against the bed. Even in this phase Joppe and I were a team and although he could not push himself, of course, he found other ways to help us: by saying positive things such as that I was strong and could do this, by putting a cold and wet washcloth on my forehead (I was so hot!), wiping my hair out of my face and help me drink some water in between pushing or just gently putting his hand on my arm.
After some 40 minutes of pushing, during which I actually felt no pain, they did an episiotomy on me to help the baby arrive into the world. After this it took only two pushes for her to arrive. So after 45 minutes of pushing baby Ellie entered the world! She was born exactly on week 39, a week before my due date.
When Ellie was born, she was put on my chest immediately. Although it was still quite surreal that she was finally there, we were in love with her from the moment she came into this world. She was very alert and started to crawl to my breast for some milk and she even latched on and drank a little bit.
My whole pregnancy and birthing experience was only positive. At first I was a bit “scared” that the birth itself would be painful and hard, and while of course it was hard, I had such a relaxing and powerful day and absolutely no negative experiences during it. I was lucky as well to not have an unplanned c-section, as there is a higher chance if you have a breech baby, and to have birthed Ellie vaginally. We were sent home the same evening and arrived in our little baby bubble.
Even with a breech baby and in whichever way you choose to give birth: you can do this!