Saturday, 9 March 2013

Birth Story Take Two

Badger Cub is five weeks old today, so it's about time I wrote about the birth. It's going to be a long read: it's important that you know the background. The pregnancy has not been straightforward; not because there was anything wrong with me but because I didn't fit into standard pathways from the point of view of the NHS.

Baby Badger came out rather quickly - a three hour labour with us only just making it to the hospital before I started pushing. Understandably this made me rather nervous second time around and I was hoping, given that the labour was otherwise very straightforward, for a home birth. This was scuppered when I failed my glucose tolerance test and was referred to the diabetes clinic, which meant the NHS no longer considered me a good candidate for home birth.

There then followed a number of frustrating hospital appointments where the consultant repeated that she couldn't support a home birth and I repeated that it was all very well but I was unlikely to make it to hospital so her position wasn't helpful. After a referral to the consultant midwife and a long discussion, they eventually allowed my community midwife to help me plan a home birth as plan B for if labour looked to be progressing fast.

I finally felt as though things had taken a turn for the better, but at 36 weeks it was confirmed that Badger Cub was breech - this is where the baby is head up, presenting their bottom as the part to come into the world first. The consultant told me I would of course be booked for a cesarean section at 37 weeks. It felt as though my world had ended.

I got in touch with a lovely local independent midwife for advice. She pointed me at various sources of information around breech birth and reassured me that breech was just a variation of normal. I did my research and came to the conclusion that cesarean was far from the inevitable outcome. Breech birth has become a rarity in hospitals, and the NHS default recommendation is cesarean section. This means that the skills are being lost in hospitals, but community and independent midwives continue to see some, mainly because they are not diagnosed until labour begins.

I attended two ECV clinics, where they attempted through manipulation to turn Badger Cub. They failed. My consultant begrudgingly agreed that I was making an informed choice to birth vaginally and the cesarean was booked for just before 42 weeks - the race was on.

At 40 weeks and one day I woke up with mild contractions, as I had been doing for weeks. Father Badger and Baby Badger joined me for breakfast and I ate my toast and tea (for which I was later very glad). I realised that I was having to lean over the table to get through each contraction so we called my parents to say that they would probably be needed that day. I sent Father Badger upstairs to shower and dress, and when I stood up a few minutes later my waters broke! Father Badger persuaded me to call the midwives, we summoned my father to collect Baby Badger and I headed for the shower.

While in the shower I had three more contractions, so things were progressing fast! Two midwives arrived moments later - I had been on their red alert board for a few weeks due to the expected fast breech labour - and I headed to the kitchen where I was planning to labour. I continued to progress on all fours (the best position for breech) and one of the midwives confirmed I was already eight centimetres dilated. The ambulance they had called had arrived and Father Badger was busy making them tea when the midwife suggested I transfer to hospital in case of complications. I trusted her judgment and agreed.

I was bundled onto the trolley on my side with my TENS machine and a sheet draped over me to retain some modesty (a neighbour described me as a tent on wheels as I headed out to the ambulance). I was also told to use the gas and air to stop me from pushing, so the remainder of the birth is a little foggy: Father Badger filled in the blanks for me!

Both midwives got in the back of the ambulance with one paramedic, while Father Badger travelled in the front with the other - this turned out to be a good thing as the ambulance had come from a different county and had only been to the hospital once! The student midwife who had been caseloading me had just arrived so she followed in her car.

The journey must have been 20-30 minutes. I puffed away on the gas and tried my utmost to breath through the contractions, managing until we were almost at the hospital when I yelled that I couldn't stop myself for much longer. Apparently the paramedics were discussing which entrance was closest to the birth suite, and whether they should reverse up to the doors - everyone was aware how close I was to giving birth.

I was wheeled in to one of the delivery rooms and asked to move onto the bed. I did so and got onto all fours, but I was shortly asked to stand on the floor and lean over the bed. I had made it clear in my notes that students were welcome - breech birth is so rarely seen in hospitals and I wanted as many people as possible to learn from the experience. The room was packed - Father Badger counted no fewer than 12 people! A registrar was sat behind me for the delivery with several students, some newly qualified midwives, my student and the two community midwives. I'm not entirely sure who the others were but they asked the paramedics to leave as there wasn't enough room for them!

I was relieved to hear the consultant arrive - not the one who I had been under the care of, but the one that had performed my second ECV attempt and had been fully supportive of my wish for breech birth. He supervised the registrar, ensuring he kept hands off (essential for breech birth), and I pushed. Having watched many breech birth videos and read about how it works, it was a bizarre experience. I felt the bottom emerge. I felt the first leg come down, then felt a bit of assistance from the registrar to bring the second leg down. Badger Cub apparently then sent an arc of wee across everyone watching before wriggling himself round ready to bring his head out! The registrar supported the body and popped a finger into his mouth to bring his chin to his chest and he was born. Badger Cub was a little bit flat but my wish for delayed cord clamping was respected and he was passed through my legs to be where I cuddled and rubbed him until he picked up, no assistance required.

That's it folks! No doubt I'll write further about breech birth, as it's definitely an interest of mine now. Something to look forward to, huh?



  1. Oh well done you for getting informed and standing firm. I hope your account shoots to the top of Google's results for breech birth, and that loads of other baby bloggers link to you. My brother was breech in 1979 and my mother gave birth vaginally (apparently aided by an obstetrician with a winkling stick!) but she says she was never offered (or pressured into accepting) a CS.

    1. What on earth is a winkling stick...?!

    2. I don't know... It sounds a bit technical :-)

      Milli over at is looking for breech birth stories, she's just asked on Facebook. I directed her over here.

  2. I am sitting here sobbing having read this, you have answered so many questions for me. I have just found out that my baby is breech and I was worried about 3 things especially; whether I could remain active throughout labour, if I could deliver off the bed and if the cord could remain attached. This is how I would like my birth to go, I am also at risk of a fast labour so it is so reassuring to know it can work.

    Thank you for this post!


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