My Breech Water Birth Story

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Looking back over the past decade, I realize that even after giving birth to six children (read all of my birth stories starting here), I’ve never had what would be considered a “normal” birth and this one was no exception as I had a complete breech water birth at home.

The Beauty of Birth

My labors and deliveries have run the gamut, as I’ve had the “typical” hospital birth with all of its interventions with my first, a 26-hour natural labor and hospital birth with my second, a life-saving c-section due to placenta previa with my third, a 25-hour hospital VBAC with my fourth, a 15-hour breech home birth with my fifth, and now a 3.5 hour breech water birth with my sixth.

Some of these birth experiences were not what I wanted them to be, but in hindsight, they were all exactly what I needed at the time, and I’ve learned to be grateful for what each one of them has taught me:

  • My first birth taught me the importance of having a truly supportive birth team and the importance of environment for achieving the birth you hope for.
  • My second labor taught me that I am stronger than I realized and the importance of endurance and relaxation during labor.
  • My third birth was my most difficult, as I never thought I’d have a c-section and it was the scariest experience of my life for me and for our son. It taught me that I am not in control, and that sometimes the best plan is not the one I wanted or expected.
  • My fourth birth was in some ways my easiest, but it taught me not to have expectations about labor and birth (I was hoping it would be shorter since she was our fourth).
  • My fifth labor taught me to trust my body and fight for my birth choices, and it was my shortest labor at the time (also a breech birth).
  • My sixth was my fastest and most intense and taught me that breech is a variation of normal (at least for my body) and that no two births are the same.

My Breech Water Birth

I really thought that after giving birth five times already that I kind of had this labor and birth thing figured out, and I was so sure of that I just “knew” how things would go. As all of our babies have been at least somewhat early (usually around 39 weeks), I fully expected to have this one at least a week or so before my due date and planned on this.

Turning things upside down…

At about 36 weeks, we found out that this baby was breech. I was disappointed but not entirely surprised, since two of our other kids had been breech at this point in pregnancy (one flipped and one was born breech). I started the protocol on to encourage her to flip, played music low down on my stomach, put a bag of frozen peas on the top of my stomach, tried acupuncture and all of the other methods that are often recommended to get a breech baby to turn heads-down.

For whatever reason, this little one wanted to enter the world bottom-first as my attempts to turn her were unsuccessful.

Contractions? Or not?

My husband had a week-long business trip when I was 37 weeks so of course I wondered if I would have the baby while he was away. Not surprisingly, I started having contractions three days after he left. They started at about midnight and were strong enough to keep me from sleeping. I timed them and they were 4-5 minutes apart, eventually getting as close as three minutes and lasting up to a minute long.

They were VERY uncomfortable, and I’d compare them to 4-5 cm contractions in previous labors. I called the midwife, she came to check on me, and at about 5 AM… the contractions completely stopped.

I’d never had a false alarm for labor before and felt quite embarrassed, thinking I’d only thought I was in labor. I was grateful, as I really wanted my husband to make it home before the baby came, but I couldn’t figure out why the contractions had just stopped and I felt bad for calling the midwives before it was time.

The next day, just as I was starting to fall asleep, the contractions started again. And lasted until 5 AM again. And stopped AGAIN.

I chalked it up to the stress of my husband being out of town and the fact that we had gotten 10+ inches of snow and ice and were essentially snowed in. This pattern repeated itself every night. Contractions from around 1 AM until 5 AM each night… not the best for sleep!

My husband finally got home… but the contractions continued each night 1-5 AM like clockwork. They weren’t “painful” but were intense and uncomfortable enough to make sleep close to impossible.

After a solid week of this, I realized that I was having prodromal labor. This is more common in moms who have had 3+ babies and when baby isn’t in the right position (breech) as the mom’s body attempts to move the baby into the correct position. Unfortunately, my body decided to do this work in the middle of the night while I was trying to sleep, instead of normal business hours!

One week of prodromal labor each night and I was exhausted.

Two weeks and I was in tears each night, just wanting to sleep.

Three weeks of prodromal labor and I was doubting my sanity.

After four full weeks of prodromal labor and a full week past my due date, I resigned myself to the fact that obviously this baby was never going to come out and just started obsessively cleaning (not realizing I was nesting…)

Moving on up… or down?

That night, the contractions started like clockwork, just as they had for weeks. 5 AM came… and they didn’t stop. I figured that they had just decided to start lasting even longer to keep me from sleeping ever.

All day, the contractions continued at 4-5 minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds. Uncomfortable but not painful as I could still talk through them. I just assumed that prodromal labor was going to be constant at this point and angrily cleaned, cooked, baked and organized (so obvious in hindsight that I was nesting and would soon go into labor!).

By late afternoon, I wondered if labor was starting as I was cooking dinner. When we finished eating at around 6:30 PM, I had the first contractions that were uncomfortable enough that I sent a text to my midwife:

Contractions are getting more like 4-5 mins at this point and more uncomfortable but still not bad. Think it is fiiiiiinnnnnnaaaaallllyyy labor for real but afraid I’ll stall if you guys come too soon. Long way of saying, I don’t need you yet but just wanted to keep you posted…

Still thinking that labor might just be getting started, I cleaned up from dinner and my husband and I got the kids ready for bed. We tucked in the kids at about 7:30 PM and the contractions immediately picked up. They were now about three minutes apart and definitely uncomfortable. Since the midwives were over an hour away, I texted them that it was definitely labor and was glad to get this reply:

Already left home. 🙂 Had a feeling it was time.

Since my previous labors tended to be 24+ hours, I figured I still had a long way to go, but I was also a little bit nervous because the contractions were getting increasingly difficult to work through and the idea of another 20+ hours of them was daunting to say the least.

The midwives arrived just before 9:00 PM I think (time got a little hazy at this point), and I remember saying things like “I can’t do this for another 20 hours” and “Why do I always think this is a good idea? Some of my friends love epidurals,” (note to self- this is usually a sign of transition!).

I also started needing my husband’s support during the contractions at this point, calling him when each one started and leaning on him while moaning through the intensity. I still had pretty good breaks between contractions (4-5 minutes, I think) and was able to talk and even joke between them so I was mentally preparing for the long haul and hoping I’d have the baby before noon the next day.

The contractions continually got tougher and sometime around 9:30 ish, the midwives suggested I try getting in the tub. I told them that I was afraid it would slow my labor down (laughable now) and they responded that they really didn’t think it would at this point.

Oh the Water…

The water definitely took the edge off the contractions or at least provided a welcome distraction. I tried to relax as much as possible and at about 9:45 PM, I felt a “pop” as my water broke (the fluid was clear). This is about the time that I started to have the “doula battle” with myself internally.

After being a doula for several years, labor has become an interesting internal conversation between my rational doula side and my not-so-logical laboring mom side. This time, the conversation in my head was going something like this:

Doula Me: “You water just broke and you are questioning why you don’t get pain medication… you are almost done.”

Pregnancy me: “No, I’m not. Stop trying to get my hopes up. My water broke before labor with my first baby. I still probably have hours of this left. Is food burning in the oven? How did I miss that spot on the grout of the tub when I was cleaning… Ugh… Another contraction.”

I didn’t feel pushy immediately after my water broke as I had with previous deliveries, which is normal when baby’s head isn’t pushing on the cervix. I was encouraged though, because I realized I was at least now in “real” labor but was still in denial about just how far along I was (despite the discomfort of definite transition contractions).

At this point, I also started feeling a LOT of pressure on my pubic bone and front right side. I had absolutely no back labor at all but had the equivalent in my lower abdomen because of her position. I could feel her move down and the pressure on my pubic bone continued to increase.

This was the point I somewhat remember saying something along the lines of “I don’t think I can do this,” (classic about-to-push sign for me).

The midwives suggested that I get in a forward-leaning hands and knees position, which I did with the help of my husband. The pressure intensified almost immediately and I felt baby move down quite a bit. I was simultaneously trying to relax but also having trouble relaxing (a friend who was planning to photograph the birth was still a few minutes away and I wasn’t exactly excited about the pushing phase…)

I also knew (from my previous breech delivery) that it is important to wait until I was completely dilated before attempting to push so even when I started feeling push-y, I tried to focus on calmly breathing (which externally looked more like a mixture of grunting, moaning and cursing… I was totally calm…or not)

My husband sat on the edge of the tub and I was able to lean on him for comfort and support at this point, which really helped me relax.

The urge to push…

I’ve always thought that the term “urge to push” was funny as I would more accurately describe it as” the-overwhelming-and-impossible-to-ignore-reflex-to-expel-a-baby.”

Whatever you want to call it, I felt it.

Having now vaginally delivered a breech baby twice, I can also say that while the desire to push is just as strong with a breech presentation, it also feels much different. Many women describe pushing as feeling like they are having a bowel movement and this isn’t the case (at least in my experience) with a breech. In fact, it felt much more like my public bone was being snapped in half and my hips being pushed out of their sockets.

At 9:55 PM I officially started pushing. I pushed somewhat slowly for a few minutes as I felt her slowly move down. Once the “ring of fire” started, I decided that I’d had enough of this and pushed a lot harder. This part is somewhat hazy, but I remember thinking that I had to actually work a lot harder in pushing her out than I had with my others.

This is the mentally toughest moment of labor for me, in realizing that I’m almost done and at the same time that the only way to make the pain stop is to push through it and create more pain in the short term. I always wished I was like some women (including my mom) who feel some relief during the pushing phase and actually think it is less intense than transition.

With a really hard push, the burning intensified and then I felt some relief as she “rumped” (the word used instead of “crowned” with a breech baby since they present bottom-first). At this point, the midwives were actively monitoring me and baby but not touching her (this hands-off method is often recommended for breech deliveries to avoid startling baby and causing her to raise her hands before they emerge).

Out came her bottom, legs and feet all at once. This is known as a complete breech presentation by definition, not a frank breech as my last had been. This also explained why I felt I had to push harder with her… I was pushing out abdomen, legs and feet at the same time!

Sweet relief…

With another strong push, her hands and head emerged and the midwife lifted her out of the water.

That moment of relief and joy right as she emerged immediately replaced the intensity and discomfort of the previous few hours and I leaned against my husband’s chest, saying “I did it! I can’t believe she is finally out!”

I turned over and was able to hold her for the first time… and 41 weeks of pregnancy, a month of prodromal labor and just over 3 hours of intense labor immediately became worth it in an instant as I stared into her eyes.

Her APGARs were 10 and 10, starting her trend of trying to beat her siblings at everything. (So far, she wins the awards for my longest pregnancy, shortest labor, biggest baby and highest APGARs).

Natural childbirth is definitely hard work, and this is the point at which the intensity and work are worth it. I was able to get out of the water and deliver the placenta and then sit in my own bed with my beautiful newborn.

I was shocked when I looked at the clock and realized that it was only just after 10 PM! I was used to REALLY long labors and was very surprised to realize that the tough part of my labor had only been just over 3 hours! Not only were our other kids still sleeping peacefully upstairs (shockingly after my not-so-quiet pushing phase), but my labor had been so fast that we were even going to get some sleep that night!

I was also extremely grateful for experienced and intuitive midwives who could tell even from my text when it was time, as they wouldn’t have made it if I had waited until I really thought I was in labor to call them. In some ways, this breech water birth was my easiest labor (based on time) and it some ways it was my toughest (intensity and pushing). It was without a doubt my favorite labor so far, as it was the first one where I’ve felt truly supported and completely trusted my birth team.

Shorter Labor… What Made the Difference?

In the days following her breech water birth, I’ve wondered what made the drastic difference in the length of my labor this time around (over 12 hours shorter than my previous shortest and over 20 hours shorter than most of my labors). I think these things all contributed:

  • A Birth Team I Trust– This is without a doubt the biggest factor in my shorter labor this time. Sadly, it took until my sixth birth to have a birth team that I completely trusted and felt safe with. With previous deliveries, I always had circumstances that made labor more difficult (and likely longer too), such as being told I “wasn’t allowed” to get out of bed, even with an uncomplicated natural labor, or being told by nurses that it would be easier on them if I’d just get an epidural and be quiet. This time, I was supported, encouraged, and told that my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to do… and it did.
  • Eating dates – I don’t have any proof of this, but I added dates to my protein smoothies for the last few weeks and there is some evidence that natural compounds in dates can shorten labor.
  • Prodromal labor– The one silver lining of my month of torture (I mean, prodromal labor) is that it may have sped up labor. I couldn’t find any statistics on this, but there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence and women sharing their experience in forums who had prodromal labor but very short active labors. Midwives often say that not all contractions may dilate the cervix, but they are all accomplishing something, and all of those contractions during prodromal labor were likely helping my body prepare to labor effectively.

Did I Use the Peanut Ball?

Another question I’ve already gotten is if I used the peanut ball or not. I wrote about the fascinating research about peanut-shaped yoga balls and their potential to shorten the first stage of labor by opening the pelvis and encouraging baby’s descent, and said that I was planning to try this method and see if it would shorten labor for me this time.

Unfortunately, since she was breech, I was trying to give her time to flip and wasn’t trying to encourage her to engage or move further down until she did. She ended up being born breech so I never had time to give the peanut ball a try, but have had three friends try it over the last couple of months and they had their shortest labors to date.

Was my Birth Illegal?

Sadly, home birth is not a supported birth option in my state or in quite a few other states in the US. It wasn’t technically illegal for me to give birth at home, but Certified Professional Midwives are not licensed in our state (though many are in other sates) and have to work much harder to find access to important supplies, labs and testing for the women they serve. As our state has one of the highest c-section rates in the country (over 40% in our local area), home birth is one way we could work to reduce these statistics (as the World Health Organization has called for a reduction in any c-section rate over 15%).

This year, we are working to pass legislation that would support Kentucky midwives and make it possible for CPMs to be licensed in our state. If you live in Kentucky and are reading this, please consider following the KY Home Birth Coalition on FB here to check for updates and to find out ways you can help!

Other Pregnancy and Birth Resources

If you’re currently pregnant, here are some other resources that might be helpful to you:

I’d love to hear your birth stories! Please share them in the comments below! 

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


153 responses to “My Breech Water Birth Story”

  1. Tracy Avatar

    Reading your story makes me wonder when things changed so drastically for midwives in Kentucky. When I was pregnant with our daughter I never saw a doctor. I went to a midwife clinic (Madison county). All of the professionals practicing there were midwives, five of them as I recall. Not only that but because of my job I also knew they were the primary place pregnant women were sent for care through the state’s medical card program. They had hospital admitting rights. Our daughter was born in a hospital. Even with that I never saw a doctor or a nurse until after the birth. Even then it was only the nurses from the nursery that I saw. Only the midwife attended to my care. Our daughter is now 24. In such a relatively short time how could we go from a decent amount of freedom of choice to so little? We moved away from the state for almost 10 years. Coming back we’ve been able to see oh so many things changed.

    This February I got to be present for the birth of my second grandson (in Jefferson County). Although most of the care our daughter received was great some of it was just appalling and their unwillingness to listen and their complete takeover of care and against parent wishes was maddening. The direct threats made to the parents if they didn’t follow exactly what the hospital wanted very scary, VERY scary. I’m sad for our state.

  2. Rose Avatar

    Who were the midwives you used? How didn’t you feel in relation to them? Did you feel comfortable? Did they educate? What was your experience with your mom midwife?

  3. Kristen Avatar

    What an incredible birth story Katie!! I’ve had 7 of my own babies and am pregnant with #8 and I really appreciate hearing birth stories of other mamas. I’m also a student midwife and we’ve had mamas struggle with both breech babies and prodromal labor so it felt like I was meant to read your story right now! I love that you described what pushing felt like for a breech babe – that it was just as strong but felt different. I will hold onto that thought. Thank you for sharing all of your birth experiences and the wisdom you gained from this one. I discovered dates in my last pregnancy and agree that they are amazing!

  4. Kate Davies Avatar
    Kate Davies

    I had a breech homebirth too in March 2016. Planned homebirth, unplanned breech presentation! It was only as he was being born the midwife said “Oh, this baby is breech.” He’s fine now thankfully but unfortunately he was born not breathing and had to spend a harrowing 2wks in NICU. I don’t know why or how our outcomes from the same birth can be so different but am pleased to say he’s fine now. I’m glad to read your experience thanks for sharing it. I can really relate to the way you have described the pushing & feeling in the hips. Congratulations on your baby!

  5. tori Avatar

    Hey, you already have a million comments here, but talking about your birth story makes it irresistible for everyone else not to.
    I think that the prodromal labor definitely makes the actual labor faster (not necessarily easier, as my 2nd and 3rd were fast but horribly intense). And I had none at all with my fourth–actually felt nothing labor-ish at all until the day he was born, 12 days late,–but he was the longest and hardest of all of them. Part of this was probably that I expected him to come super fast based on my previous labors.

  6. Jen Avatar

    I hope all is well! I just read your email about thyroid health and I am having my own struggles 8 month postpartum right now going hyperthyroid sen though my TPO antibioses made me hypothyroid before my pregnancy. I have been reading that waiting 18months is best to wait in having future children when there is a thyroid problem. I wanted to get your opinion about having to wait that long if I start going to a naturopath to heal. I am going to be 35 in 18months and fear waiting so long and being able to get pregnant. But healthy babies is all I pray for. Any advice from your experience would be great! LOVE what you do, Katie!!

  7. Mara Avatar

    I discovered your blog a few months ago and have really enjoyed it a lot. Lots of great recipes and articles.

    I read this birth story nodding my head: having had 5 natural births, I can totally relate to the prodromal labor and the panic “oh wait, I don’t want to do this!!!”

    We’re expecting #6 (at the end of the summer) and I was wondering if you had any words of wisdom about post partum hemorrhage. Each birth, I’m a little more anemic and bleed a little more. This last time involved multiple shots of pitocin, aggressive uterine massage, and 10 tablets -I don’t remember the medication (rectally ?) when the bleeding just kept on going. I did nurse from the moment baby was born to when the bleeding finally stopped.

    I’m nervous about this happening again and needing a transfusion. I do take my Floridix and eat iron rich food, I just can’t get my iron up.

    It’s hard to find info on grand multipara births since it’s so unusual.


    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Congrats and best wishes for an easy birth this time! I’ve never personally struggled with this, so I don’t have any first hand advice. I do try to eat a lot of liver when pregnant, as well as natural sources of Vitamin C to help iron absorption and a lot of leafy greens and magnesium. Blackstrap molasses is also supposed to be helpful and I try to add that to foods as well when pregnant.

    2. Jamie Parfitt Avatar
      Jamie Parfitt

      I took Floradix, too, with six of my eight pregnancies. The midwife and her assistant finally thought to suggest taking HCL capsules with it. I also doubled the dose, stirred it into orange juice, along with liquid chlorophyll, and took vitamin C, all at the same time! Stir that chlorophyll well and drink it fast! It tastes like eating leaves! (It can also stain your clothes, so be careful.) It costs a lot of money, but it is cheaper than an C-section (which I had with my first baby). It is frustrating be a Vbac for seven children, but praise the Lord that I was able to have numbers 3-8 at home! The best one was while we lived in England. They didn’t tell me to stop pushing and I pushed my daughter out with one push! Two tips for anyone who might be looking for tips! Get up and walk as soon as you feel the next contraction coming. It helps so much. Sit down and rest between them. Also, push on your hands and knees, on your bed if possible. It takes pressure off your spine and your cervix, keeping the sensation bearable. As I said, the last baby came out with one push. (She was also my smallest, at 6 lb. 14 oz.; my biggest was 8 lb. 13 oz.) A third tip, now that I think of it: I prayed for wisdom to not gain so much weight during that eighth pregnancy and the Lord gave me two words–“water” and “walk.” So I took a half-hour walk three times a week and I keep a quart jar of water on the table all the time. I don’t remember how much I drank per day, but it was much more than I HAD been drinking. I didn’t gain as much weight and I lost it the fastest after that birth, too. My daughter will be 16 in two weeks, so some of the details are fading, but I will always know that her birth was my best. Even my prenatals were done at home! And the midwife left a birth supply bag at my house when I had four weeks to go, so that she could come from anywhere any time and the supplies would already be at my house!

  8. Michelle childs Avatar
    Michelle childs

    I’m so glad to hear a successful breech home birth! I had a first attempted home birth at 42.6 weeks which was back to back and ended up with an emergency c section! This made me even more determined to have the next at home. The 2nd I hired a private midwife, who had delivered 500 babies by vbac, I also has hybnobirthing, a pool, aromatherapy, homeopathy etc and felt ready. She instigated on a sweep at 37 weeks which I thought was odd, but she wanted my baby not to be too big as first was 9lb. That evening I went into labour at 3am. Everything was fantastic until I had a spot of blood in the water, she insisted I got out and she said “shit you are 9.5 cm and he is a breech” what happened in the next 30 odd mins was awful! She shouted, had me in different positions, cut me, has ambulance men help, but my beseech baby was stuck, his bottom and legs were hanging and his cord for compressed. I asked to stand up and I delivered him myself, but he came out not breathing! I can’t describe the pain that followed! I should have been in hospital! My following 2 births were c sections, planned x

  9. Marisa Lundin Avatar
    Marisa Lundin

    I wanted to add another comment here about my breech baby that ended in C-section. I want to add this here because I felt equally traumatized by the c-section as I did by the reaction and comments by people in the “natural birth crowd” that I considered to be very close friends and family. I am sharing this not to disparage anyone’s beliefs, but to lend a perspective to how those very well-intentioned comments and advice can be devastating. I tried to be brief, but made myself a tea and got into this. Thank you for the free therapy, internet.

    I learned early on that my baby was breech and was bitterly disappointed. We were planning on a natural birth at a hospital, as a home birth in our area was significantly more expensive than a hospital birth with my insurance and it meant I could spend 2 extra months on maternity leave. There are 12 OBs in my HMO. 4 had ever delivered a breech baby in their entire careers, and only one of them had delivered a breech baby within the last 5 years. There was no way to ensure which doctor we would get. It was a really hard decision, but we were convinced to schedule the c-section after my OB said “we don’t know what we’re doing – it is possible to deliver vaginally with a breech baby, it used to happen all the time, but nobody here knows how to do it safely.” It was too late to make other arrangements and, honestly, by this point I had grown wary of a lot of they *very* unfounded advice and facts being parroted to me from the natural birthing crowd in my area (who I don’t think are representative of every natural birth advocate, but it just happened to be the dominant message I was receiving). I decided that rarely in my life has a doctor ever told me they didn’t know what they were doing. Usually, I have encountered so much over-confidence. The under-confidence was actually extremely convincing.

    I tried literally everything I could find to turn this baby. Spinning babies, chiropractor, moxa, acupuncture, hanging upside down on an ironing board, ice packs, music, hypnobabies, etc. No matter what I tried, someone on a message board or a friend or family member who was staunchly against c-sections would knowingly repeat things I was already doing as the surefire way to turn this baby. When I would protest I was doing all of them (ALL OF THEM), I was quizzed suspiciously on exactly how I was doing them, Because if it wasn’t working, surely it was user error, right? I went on leave 2 weeks earlier than planned just to make time for all of these appointments and exercises. One woman in my breastfeeding group after I had the baby said the baby would have turned if I had stood upside down in a pool. So, you know, that’s where I went wrong.

    My OB pushed me to schedule the c-section a week before my due date. I pushed back, saying that every single day closer to when I would naturally labor was precious. She was afraid I would go into labor naturally and there would be complications if labor progressed too rapidly. That seemed overly cautious to me, since it was my first baby and what could happen in the 45 minutes it took us to get to the hospital? I pushed back hard and she reluctantly pushed the c section date four days later (so, 3 days pre-due date). It felt like one minor victory in a birth process that was rapidly spinning out of my control.

    The next day after she originally wanted to do the c-section, I went into labor. I was still so convinced my baby would turn that I was in total denial I was in labor. I walked around the entire day telling myself I was having Braxton Hicks contractions because I had been cleaning so vigorously (DUH, nesting). When my water broke, I came out of denial. My husband walked in the door a few minutes later from work and we left for the hospital. My contractions started coming so quickly, so that by the time I was admitted, they were 2 minutes apart. I was secretly so happy, since I thought at least I had a chance to labor some naturally so that I got to 1) experience it and 2) the baby’s lungs could mature a little from the contractions and labor. I demanded they do one last ultrasound to make sure baby had not flipped (he hadn’t). My contractions were close but I wasn’t very dilated.

    I was so petrified going into surgery after reading so many “horror stories” and hearing it disparaged so thoroughly that I was shaking uncontrollably (even before given the epidural). I kept thinking about my Bradley birth instructor saying how the c-section was so much more dangerous than whatever complication they were trying to avoid. I was crying uncontrollably and giving my husband instructions on my wishes for how to raise the baby if I died. I’m sure the nurses thought I was the most over-dramatic crazy person ever…. and yes, they offered me a sedative. I didn’t take it (maybe I should have?!). I am such a low key non-dramatic person usually that my husband started crying as was also terrified. The actual surgery went completely smooth and was totally uneventful. Mentally, I was so totally gone. I basically just checked out for weeks. I think I had something akin to PTSD. They showed me my baby and I just felt so numb and shocked and disturbed that I couldn’t do immediate skin to skin and that I was being sewn up at that moment, that I just shut down. My husband was shirtless and ready to cuddle our boy, so luckily he was there to hold that baby minutes after he was born. I was of course in love with him and so happy, but I just felt like there was defeaning white noise in the background and I could not think about the c section without tearing up and feeling sick about it.

    My recovery was tough. No infection, rapid healing, just more pain than I thought possible. It took us 3 days to figure out I wasn’t responding to narcotics. They weren’t reducing my pain, just making me feel completely insane. Things really improved once I took plain ole ibuprofen. But, it was major abdominal surgery and it was very painful. I felt like I couldn’t move freely to hold and comfort my son the way I wanted to.

    As I processed the surgery, I realized that the absolute worst parts about it were the fear instilled in me by well intentioned natural birth advocates and the sense of failure. Nothing I did was good enough for them to convince them this wasn’t all somehow my fault. Shortly after having my son, I totally retreated from any internet forums and stopped allowing anyone in my life to talk about it. I just couldn’t stomach one more “well, you didn’t HAVE to have the c-section…. you could have advocated for a vaginal birth” or being quizzed on what techniques I used to try to turn the baby and how surely if I had just used this one other hypnosis CD or drank this tea, or WHATEVER, then the baby wouldn’t have been breech. My own mother told me one day, when my son was particularly fussy around 6 weeks old, that he was likely upset because of the trauma of a c-section birth. I am crying as I am remembering this. It was so painful to hear that. I tried to share a very brief version of this story once on an online forum and deleted it after the first response was “sounds like ur just a shit mom” (sic).

    I wish I could go back in time. To reassure myself that, as awful as this is, doctors perform vastly more c-sections than they do breech vaginal births and that we were so unlikely to be harmed, either of us. I wish I could have just not told anyone the baby was breech or any detail of my pregnancy. I wish I could take back every defensive conversation I had trying to justify our decision to go forward with the c-section. As if I just found the right words, people would see that this wasn’t an “easy way out” for me, but a decision that we agonized over for weeks. We cried, we desperately tried everything we could, but ultimately came to the decision that given where we were at geographically, financially, emotionally, we just didn’t have another option.

    I say all of this, but I read your story, Katie, and I am so moved and in awe that you had the experience you had with a home breech birth. I applaud it and your wonderfully open and welcoming attitude you have. It sounds like it was the right choice for you and such a positive experience. You advocate passionately for what you believe in without sounding judgmental and I thank you for that.

    I’m still a pretty natural mama. I deeply mourned my son not being exposed to vaginal bacteria and did some stealthy secret vaginal seeding at the hospital. I’m still breastfeeding and he’s a year and a half old. We eat an obnoxiously healthy and pure diet that we are very privileged to be able to swing. But I’m also ready at any moment to sit down with another mama who has made very different choices for me with open eyes to see what I can learn from her and not focus on what I can teach her. And to question everything, even when it comes from a crowd who claims to be superior for their practice of… questioning everything.

    That was my breech baby story. It was very different than what I imagined. It’s probably not the kind of birth story I could brag about or share as an example for others to follow. But it taught me to be a better, more adaptable, and compassionate person and mother and for that I am grateful. It taught me to be in all things humble first. Katie, all of your birth stories are so varied that I feel like you really embody this lesson as well. So, I am also grateful for you and your writing. Congratulations on welcoming a new wonderful person in your life.

    Thank you.

    1. Amanda Avatar

      I hope you feel good about sharing your story here. I enjoyed reading it even though I could tell it was painful for you.

      I have four babies and each birth has been so different. My first was a c-section as well. Not because he was breech, but he was a large baby (10 pounds) and I was in Japan at the time. There were so many factors in play…I was 10 days “overdue” and culturally the medical system just worked differently. I had read and studied and hypnobabied so much that I had worked myself into a real state. The c-section was so defeating for me. Unlike you, I was surrounded by a community that couldn’t understand why a natural birth was so important to me. I kept hearing things that made me feel selfish for wanting a natural birth. “Well at least you have a healthy baby and that is all that matters!” I was so sad and depressed.

      A year later I heard myself say “and when the doctor took him out of me…” This is when I realized that I didn’t even feel like I had given birth. I took a doula course and was so fortunate to be in a group of wise and accepting women. They helped me own my birth exactly as it was and to mourn the loss of my chance at a natural birth. It was really important for my growth and for my relationship with my son.

      He was a difficult baby and looking back I do believe that it had to do with the c-section. Not the actual process, but with my reaction. I don’t feel guilty realizing this, but in awe of how much my energy could affect my son.

      My second birth was natural and in a German hospital…very wonderful! My third birth was at home with an amazing midwife and also wonderful. My fourth birth was also at home but unattended! She was in a real hurry and came 30 minuTes before the midwife could arrive!

      I breastfeed my first three babies until they were nearly four years old (I was nursing two and pregnant with the third). My fourth had another plan though. She refused to breastfeed. I am a certified lactation consultant and had access to amazing professionals. We did EVERYTHING. She was literally starving to death. I fought so hard and spent the first two weeks of her life searching out any help I could find. Running from appointment to appointment. She was literally starving but I kept pushing for the breast. Pumping was not working for me and things were spiraling out of control. I finally started bottle feeding with formula. All the while I was reading article after article about the horrors of formula. My husband finally begged me to quit and just accept it. It wasn’t until she was almost 7 months old that I could accept it and realize I did everything I could and that everything would be fine. Once I could relax, I found that there are certain joys of bottle feeding I had never experienced as a rather militant breast feeder. I am always hesitant to share this because I don’t want to dissuade anyone from breastfeeding. I love breastfeeding, but realize that I have to take what life gives me and appreciate it exactly for what it is.

      I regret that I spent the first months of her life being such an emotional wreck. It’s my last baby. Didn’t I learn anything from my c-section experience? Well I guess I’m stubborn, but I think I may have finally learned…a little ?

      I can tell you that all births are different. I can also tell you that all births are sacred. Just because your first birth was a c-section doesn’t tell you anything about the next, if you choose to have more babies. At the same time, my dear friend had a c-section the same time I did. She went on to have two more c-sections and that worked for her. It’s all ok. I am a firm believer that our attitude can determine more than an actual situation. It is important to honor our feelings and then release them. I thinks it really the only healthy way we can move forward in life.

      Thanks again for sharing and for listening to me as well. I am constantly thankful for strong and intelligent women in my life. All the best to you and your little one!

  10. Feena Avatar

    Amazing and moving birth story. Filled me with hope and excitement for my home birth due in 4 weeks time.
    I had a traumatic first labour in hospital here in the uk with very long false labour for the week before but I was unable to eat or sleep through it.
    My baby was back to back so I wonder if my body was trying to turn him?

    I’m a student and my house is rented but I’m hoping the home birth is a more relaxing environment. In the part of the U.K. I live in we are not allowed pain relief in a home birth, only gas/air which makes me sick.

    Any advice for a second time mum but a first time home birther? Due 27th may and I’m already on the Dates 😉 xx

  11. Elise H. Avatar
    Elise H.

    Thank you for sharing your most recent birth story Katie! I am pregnant with my first, due in August. I was curious what your take on protein smoothies during pregnancy is. Could you give me an example of the protein you include in your smoothie and your go-to recipe? I’m intrigued by the date research as well! Thanks again.

  12. Aimee Avatar

    You’re a fellow Kentucky girl! Love reading your birth story. Isn’t it amazing how they are all different? Your blog is an amazing resource and I use it and recommend it to others all the time!

  13. Casey Avatar

    Hi Katie!
    I’ve started following you a while ago and have really learned a lot from you. I’ve been able to make a lot of your recipes and homemade household products and the list goes on. If I need something I usually come to your site first:) I really enjoyed reading about your birth, you’re super women, that’s all I can say!!! Awesome! I’m a mom to 3 children and I’ll have to share that one day but my middle child caught a life threatening infection from the hospital stay when he was born so that alone has caused our household to become as chemical free as possible as well as dairy, gluten and sugar free. Man has that been hard but a necessity. After dealing with that for 4 years, I found your site and started throwing stuff out and making recipes. Thanks to God and you, we have been infection free for the last year and a half. Thank you so much for what you do….it is Important!! Blessings to you and your beautiful family!

  14. Bonnie Avatar

    Wow! LOVE this story! I’m a bit of a birth “junkie” myself and have also had 6 births: including a c-section, hospital v-bac with epidural, hospital twins naturally and a couple home water births. I totally agree with your statement about needing to go through many different births on your path to learning! I’m grateful for all I’ve learned about birth through my great and not-so-great births. I love reading about others’ experiences with birth which, although so very different for each mom and baby, is also so unifying in its similar stages and feelings (like that “urge to push” description…spot on!! Haha). Anyway, thanks for sharing! I landed here via your bone broth recipe and can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the great site!

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