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Anton's surprise footling breech home birth, by Oddny

This is an amazing birth story. From the matter-of-fact way that Oddny talks about Anton's birth, you might get the impression that it was not anything out of the ordinary. Oddny was planning a waterbirth, with the same independent midwife who had attended her first baby's birth. However, Anton was in a footling breech position (feet coming first) - and he weighed 9lb . In most hospitals, a caesarean section would be strongly recommended at this point; Oddny's first baby was 10lb 4oz, so another large baby was likely, and many obstetricians would only want to attempt a vaginal delivery of a breech baby if the baby is expected to be of average-size or below. Yet neither Oddny nor her midwife panicked, and Oddny managed to give birth to her baby after a labour of just two and a half hours. The overwhelming impression from this birth story is one of calm control, with the mother and her supporters just doing what needed to be done.

My due date was the 22nd April 2005. When that day arrived and nothing happened, I got quite frustrated. I had gone into labour with my older daughter on her due date, so of course thought that the same would happen in this case. My midwife had warned me not to hope for the same thing to happen this time as that would be highly unlikely. But being me, I didn't listen to that. Nothing happened over the weekend. On the following Monday, I had some very intense labour pains and thought that that would be the night, but sadly no, things calmed down. We had even started filling the birthing pool, which shows how real the contractions were.

I woke up on Wednesday the 27th April and thought to myself that I would try and forget about the fact that I was overdue and that the baby would come when it would be ready to come. The sun shone through an opening in the curtains, which gave me a relaxing feeling, and I knew that I would be able to wait until the baby was ready to come into the world. During the whole of that day, I was having some pretty intense Braxton-hicks. I was doubtful that these were anything more, as I had been having them for quite a while. I spent the day outside with my husband and older daughter and tried to forget about the contractions I was having. I had a very relaxing and wonderful day.

It wasn't until around eight that evening, after we had dinner and my husband was getting my daughter ready for bed, that the contractions were increasing in intensity and I finally believed that this probably was the real thing. I wasn't able to ignore them anymore so phoned the midwife to inform her that we needed her. After I had phoned her the contractions came on very quickly so I assumed a knee-chest position to try and slow things down a bit. I stayed like that until she arrived, 45 minutes later, although it didn't feel like 45 minutes.

While all this was happening, my husband was filling the birthing pool, massaging my back and getting the necessary things ready for the birth. I hated myself for not having believed these contractions were the real thing, as if I had, the pool would have been ready so much earlier.

I was finally able to get into the pool at 9:15. What bliss. I had not been using any method of pain relief except for my husband continually massaging my lower back so getting into the pool was heaven. After I had gotten into the pool, the contractions were still coming on very quickly and it wasn't long until I had the urge to push. My midwife told me to put my hand down to feel the head coming and it surprised me that the head shot back in. A few more pushes and a foot appeared and my midwife realised that not only was the baby breech, it was coming feet first. I had to get out of the pool, as the midwife needed to have full visibility of what was going on. I, understandably, could not move, and let that be known that nothing in this world would make me move. My midwife and my husband literally had to pull me out of the pool as I needed to get out.

I got onto dry land and leaned against our sofa. One foot was born first and then the other. With another contraction, he was up to his navel. His shoulder appeared then the other and his chin. Then two more contractions and his head was born. My midwife announced that it was a boy at one point, which I didn't mind as she was telling me the progress of the baby being born. As Anton was positioned perfectly, he was born quite easily. My midwife did little to intervene in the birth other than support his body when his head was being born so it wouldn't be flexed, as that would have possibly caused some damage.

As soon as he was born, he needed a little oxygen to help him start breathing, although he was fine in every other way. His cord was pulsating and his colour was fine. It was as if he needed a little time to adjust to the change from being within me to being outside of me. When he did finally decide to breathe, much to the relief of us all, he cried a little. He was very relaxed about the whole thing and seemed quite happy to just look around and enjoy his new environment. He was perfect in every way, and still is. After all of this, my husband realised that nobody had taken notice of what time he was born. My midwife looked at her watch and it was only 10:30. So it took only 2 ½ hours to get my little boy into the world. He weighed just over 9lbs.

I was so glad when we realised that this was a surprise breech that I had hired an independent midwife. She was calm, relaxed, and knew exactly what to do. You could hear it in her voice. I had spoken to her about breech births and so I knew she was capable of delivering a breech baby. I wasn't sure whether my husband was relaxed about the whole thing, but I learnt later that he wasn't worried at all. My husband sensed the confidence and calmness in our midwife and knew that he could trust her to do what she needed to do.

I am so thankful and grateful to Elaine Batchelor of the Thames Valley Independent Midwives and for everything she did throughout the pregnancy and labour, and how she calmly and collectedly dealt with a surprise breech birth. Having gotten to know her through the pregnancy and birth of my older daughter, I knew that she would be the best choice for this pregnancy and birth.


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