I had this smug look on my face yesterday, with Bricanyl beating in my body as I was waiting for the doctor’s capable hands.
I received so many questions, pieces of advice and opinions over the past few days on insta on Caesarean section and repositioning attempts – so I figured it would be best to give a small collective update here. I’m assuming that some of you may not be familiar with the terms ‘breech birth’ and ‘breech presentation’ so I’ll be explaining along the way.
If you haven’t read this little status update about his position, I’ll tell you that he’s positioned with his buttocks closest to my pelvis. This happens with 3-4 % of all babies after week 37 (which is the final week before due date; from 37+0-42+0). ‘Is it still possible for him to turn around by himself?’ In theory, this could happen. But it’s very unlikely. Especially for him – according to my intuition. He’s been positioned like that from the very beginning, and he’s so deeply nested in my pelvis that it’s not even possible to nudge him.
With a baby in breech presentation, you’re offered a repositioning attempt at the hospital as the ideal is for a baby to be born head first – to have the biggest part of the body, the head, make way for the rest and avoid the risk of the head getting stuck. To ease him out of his firm position in my pelvis, in preparation for the repositioning attempt, I took a proactive approach. On Monday, I had a rebozo session as a sort of warm-up – rebozo (which means shawl) is a type of massage with a shawl, which is used widely during pregnancies and births in South America, with proven benefits. I did it privately, on my own initiative – maybe he’d feel like turning around already then, I figured. He didn’t turn around, but he left the pelvis region. Yay! It was incredibly touching and a very spiritual and beautiful experience. The sense of calm in the studio, their approach. I could sense him kicking around and could easily get my hand under his little buttocks. To think that my belly is all that separates us. The assisting midwife trainee said something along the lines of how he has been used to curling up and listening to my heart beat. Such a nice thought, right? He’s keeping his head up high to be closer to my heart.
Yesterday we then had our repositioning attempt. At first, they monitor the baby’s heart sound for 30 minutes. Then they give you Bricanyl, which relaxes the uterus and makes it less likely to act up with Braxton Hicks contractions. It’s a hormone I know from my asthma medicine. It makes your heart race and your hands shake – and this instance was quite a bit more intense and extensive than what I’m used to. But I was prepared. It went well. They then positioned me headdown to let gravity lend a helping hand. And then those capable doctor hands tried to push him, make him do a somersault.
They only try for five minutes, and along the way they keep monitoring the heart sound. He was happy and comfortable; I was less so. All of the pushing, irritated skin, keeping my eyes closed whilst trying to focus on breathing. It did only take five minutes though. And I kept reminding myself that the birth itself will hurt a great deal more. When they stopped, I very quickly recovered. Once again, they monitored the heart sound, and he was still content. Which made sense as he was back in his snug breech presentation. Back to my heart. ‘Do you want another attempt?’ I didn’t feel a need, but if the doctor thought it made sense to try, it was fine. It feels right to believe that there’s a reason why he’s positioned the way he is. But the doctor wanted to give it another try so we agreed to come back next Monday. I have no expectations, though.
But, what now then? With a baby in the breech presentation, you’re automatically offered a planned C-section, and 90 % of all women opt in. I sense that 9.5-10 of you guys assume that I’m one of them. But I’m not. It’s not that a Caesarean section can’t be beautiful – it was how I entered the world as well. But I just want to give him a chance to be delivered through the birth canal. There are pros and cons; the risks are short- and long-term for both scenarios. Labour involves so many unknown factors, regardless of how the baby is positioned. I want to at least attempt vaginal delivery – so for us it’s a breech birth.
‘That’s a huge risk,’ some of you wrote (speaking of, how to give advice ;)). Yes, in hospital lingo it’s referred to as a ‘high-risk birth,’ just as twin deliveries. But an approved breech birth is just as safe as a normal delivery, so I’ve been told by the best obstetrician in the country, who specialises and conducts trainings in breech births. He discharged us last Saturday after a good conversation. Herlev Hospital has a whole host of experts in breech births, incidentally.
‘Approved’ refers to the fact that you have to meet a bunch of requirements in order to be allowed to go through with it (which was also the case for the home birth scenario). The pelvis must have a certain size. The baby’s weight has to be below 4000 g. Labour has to get going naturally. If the tiniest risk arises for the baby or for me, it’ll be a C-section. Also, while a normal scenario may involve a midwife and an assistant, we’ll have an entire team of folks in the room. I think it was: two doctors, a paediatrician, two midwives and an assistant. ‘All of Herlev will know that you’re here,’ the sweet midwife said yesterday. Maybe not quite, but the maternity ward will, as a breech birth is quite rare – and because they are prepared for this.
As for myself, I’m quite surprised to discover how continuously adaptable I am, hehe… From natural home birth with a minimum of people to being hospitalised because of GBS to getting used to the idea of a breech birth with an entire team of facilitators. It couldn’t be further from what I had originally wanted, haha! But I think I’m affected by having been through the worst. Fertility treatment. The biggest shock. At this point, I have a prize, who will appear so very soon – he’ll come out, anyhow. We’ve been through the worst bit and are so close to the finish line. It feels like tiny details, whether it’s at home or at the hospital. One way or the other. He’s coming out!
I’ll still be bringing fairy lights to the ward. I’ll put a note on the door, asking people to present themselves before they enter – and I’ve given Adam doorman-instructions to ensure that everyone who does enter has a specific task. It may be a rare occurrence, but it’s not a circus. It’s our room. I’ll be bringing music. I’m still hoping to have a tub, at least for some of the time. I still have my chili plasters. And then I’ll take everything top-down. I trust the medically trained staff, but I’m also prepared to ask to have it done our way, at least within reason. And if we end up with an acute Caesarean section, he’ll be the gift at the end of the road.