About one in every 25 births are breech births, where a baby is born bottom or feet first rather than head first.
Many breech babies are born by caesarean section.
In fact, so common are c-section births for breech babies, that there is concern amongst medical and birth professionals that the skills to manage breech births are being lost.
There are risks to both options, and depending on where you are having your baby and what model of care you’ve chosen, you might not even be offered a choice to trial labour with a breech baby.
However, there’s no doubt that where medically safe and supervised, a vaginal breech birth is possible.
My first baby was breech presentation, and I was lucky enough to be in the care of open-minded doctors and midwives who let me choose my mode of delivery.
I chose to have a caesarean, and I had a joyful birth.
But, I can’t help but wonder if I chose to have a c-section because there is a heavy emphasis on the risks of vaginal delivery in the available information about breech births.
Risks should not be minimised, but I do wish I had known that a vaginal breech birth can be a joyful birth.
Karyn Loftesness is a US photographer, and recently she was present for the home birth of a breech baby, Silas. On her blog, she writes;
Raychel had planned to birth her fourth baby, Silas, at home. Only four days before her due date, she found out he was frank breech. There is a program at OHSU in Portland that allows vaginal breech deliveries, but she was running very low on time to switch providers. She also has a history of short labours and wasn’t keen on the idea of getting stuck in Interstate 5 rush hour traffic. Luckily, her midwives are very skilled and experienced in breech birth, so she felt comfortable proceeding with a home birth.
Raychel’s labour was longer than any of her others, and at one point her midwives were thinking they might need to head into the hospital for an ultrasound to check on things since her progress had seemed to stop, but Raychel gave Silas a pep talk and told him it was time to come on out, now! Inexplicably, he seemed to listen, because right after the midwives got off the phone with the doctor, he dropped down further into her pelvis and she went from 5cm dilated to complete within 10 minutes. The midwives instructed her not to push until she absolutely couldn’t NOT push anymore. As soon as she got on her hands and knees on her bed, her water broke, and it wasn’t long before she couldn’t resist bearing down with the contractions.
And as well as sharing Raychel’s story, Karyn also shared these incredible photos.
In sharing the photos, Karyn says, “The photos you’re about to see are graphic, but educational, and we feel strongly that they need to be shared to help spread knowledge and awareness about the normalcy and safety of breech birth with a skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced provider.”
TAP the image to scroll through the gallery.
“They [Raychel’s children] were so excited and obviously already in love with him. Raychel snuggled and nursed him for a while, and shortly after she delivered the placenta, her midwife helped her cut the cord. He was then examined, and everyone was shocked to hear that he was 8 lbs 14 oz. Nearly nine pounds! Congratulations to the warrior mama, Raychel, and her whole family. I am so thrilled to have been able to capture his birth for you.”