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My Breech Birth

As my daughter’s 3rd birthday approaches, I feel compelled to reflect back on my first pregnancy and her birth. It certainly wasn’t the birth I had planned, but it was definitely the birth I needed. I learnt so much from that experience, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

This photo was taken when I was 35 weeks, and I remember feeling so conflicted that day. Happy and excited to have these beautiful photos taken, but also troubled and anxious because the week before, I had been thrown a curve-ball. And that curve-ball is actually quite obvious in this picture. That bump sticking up at the top of my belly? Let's just say that's not baby's bum...

Up until that time, I’d had a dream pregnancy. It was easy, I felt amazing and I was eagerly anticipating our planned homebirth. But at my 34 week appointment, that all came crashing down when we found out that baby was frank breech.

To say I was devastated was an understatement. I felt cheated. Furious. Guilty… Guilty because I was so gutted and yet my baby was healthy, so I really had no right to be. I just couldn’t help but mourn the birth I knew I wasn’t going to get. Homebirth would be out of the question - I wasn't comfortable with it in that situation and neither was my midwife. Hospital birth would mean monitoring, clock-watching, no water immersion, probable Caesarean section... It just really sucked. It was the opposite to what I had envisioned for my baby's birthday.

Still, I needed to be optimistic. I did everything - acupuncture, moxibustion, chiropractics, homeopathics… I even spent hours each day hanging upside-down. I talked to baby, visualised baby turning, did somersaults in the pool... you name it, I definitely did it.

The weeks passed and I still hoped baby would turn. After all, only about 4% of babies are breech at term. But at 37 weeks baby was still happily bum-down. So, I went into hospital for an ECV (external cephalic version). If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s basically where an experienced obstetrician tries to turn your baby around, using his hands, on your belly.

I can tell you, it absolutely felt as creepy and uncomfortable as it sounds. And of course, it didn’t work. Baby’s heart-beat (monitored throughout) didn’t even skip a beat. This kid was determined to enter the world bum-first.

And so I was presented with 3 options: elective caesarean section at 39 weeks, go into labour naturally and then progress to a caesarean section or… “attempt” a vaginal breech birth.

It was a difficult decision and one I can promise that I didn’t make lightly. I decided to go with option 3. I wanted to try and push this baby out.

So, with my birth team assembled: my husband, my private midwife Sheryl and the director of obstetrics (and head of the breech clinic), I began to get excited. I was going to do this. A primipara pushing out a breech? I knew the odds were stacked against me. I knew I had a high chance of this baby still being born by caesarean section, but I actually made peace with that.

I believed at the time and I still believe now, that for some reason, my baby didn't want to be born at home. Baby wanted to be born in hospital and perhaps this was the only way to make that happen. And I know this sounds crazy, but perhaps things like this do sometimes happen for a reason...

Regardless, it was this thought that helped me to be okay with my new birth plan. I had gone through my whole pregnancy trusting my body and trusting my baby... I wasn't about to drop that trust now.

If anything, I needed that trust now more than ever. I had to surrender to things out of my control - not an easy thing to do, but I soon discovered this was a necessary lesson for parenthood.

I also knew that so much of having a positive, empowering birth was head-space and preparing for every outcome. I can honestly say that my head was in the best place going into this birth. I went into it strong, tough, determined… I was ready to prove to myself that I could do this…

And 4 weeks later, at exactly 40 weeks, I did...

In typical midwife fashion, I refused to believe that I was in labour when it started.

Actually, about 16 hours of mild contractions went by before I decided that perhaps something was happening.

It was around 7pm on Sunday the 14th of December when I texted my midwife to tell her that yep, I was pretty sure I was in labour, as the contractions were increasing in intensity, even though they were still irregular.

I sat on my fit ball in the living room, watching Music MAX on Foxtel while intermittently jumping to my feet and grabbing onto my husband Rhys to sway through a contraction. At some point I had also grabbed a black, plastic comb I found in one of the bathroom drawers and was squeezing it to distract myself. This was actually really effective! That and inhaling lavender oil sprinkled onto a tissue helped to keep me focused.

Still, it was hard to relax completely when I knew that at some point I needed to get into the car. How I wished I could just stay home and forget about the outside world. But it wasn't an option and my hospital bag was packed and sitting by the front door.

"When should we go?" My hubby asked me. The contractions were still so irregular - some were two minutes apart, some ten...

"Not yet" I told him, and went back to my fit ball.

As I bounced away, I felt another contraction creeping up on me. This time, at the peak of it, I felt a whole lot of pressure in my bum and also felt like I was going to vomit.

Oh shit.

All I could think about as I hurried into the bathroom was: please don't let this baby be coming out yet!

I had resisted the urge to examine myself up until this point, but now I really wanted - and needed - to know...

I squatted down and had a feel. My heart skipped a beat and I ran back into the living room. Hubby looked alarmed.


"I'm 5cm dilated and my waters are bulging... it's time to go."

2 minutes later I was in the back of the car, groaning into my pillow while my husband drove the 40 minutes to the hospital. Sitting in that car was excruciating, but thank god it wasn't 8am and we were sitting in peak-hour traffic. That would have be enough to induce some serious road-rage.

When we finally arrived at the Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick, it was 10pm. We jumped into the car park elevator and as we ascended I felt a distinctive pop.

"My waters just broke!" I announced to hubby.

It was all really happening... One way or another, we were going to meet our baby soon.

To be continued….. To read Part 2, click HERE.

{Photo by Claire Garland - Claireography:

Georgina Dowden is a mother, midwife and lactation consultant (IBCLC).

In her day to day life, she looks after her two beautiful children and also supports other families on their parenting journey.

If you would like to get in touch for breastfeeding or sleep/settling support, please email:

Skype/FaceTime consultations available OR home visits if you live in the Northern Rivers of NSW.

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