Sunday, 13 March 2011

My baby is upside down (or should that be the right way up?)

I've got the title of a draft post sitting waiting.  It's called "Too posh to push, or too nice to slice?" and in it I was going to wonder about how this next baby is going to make his appearance into the world.

I've got form for both, after all.

L was born vaginally*, without drugs, intervention or tearing, at 41 weeks and 4 days, after about seven hours of labour (although I've never actually worked out when you start counting from, so it might be more (or less) than that).  B and I were alone for most of it, which I know some women would have hated, but which felt right, and in fact the midwife wasn't in the room until L started crowning, and I panicked (having totally, despite both NHS and NCT ante-natal classes, not at all realised that what I was doing was pushing, and also somehow forgotten that the whole point of the exercise was to get the baby out) and pressed the call button.  She was born, with me on my feet, about two pushes later.  We were home in less than twelve hours.

S and A, on the other hand, were a planned c-section at 36 weeks.  I realise this isn't the norm at all hospitals, but where we were we were flatly told that this was the safest for our babies, due to the added risks of delivering twins with a shared placenta.  I wasn't enormously keen on the idea at first, particularly given the good experience I had with L and the quick recovery, and the fact that I knew it was possible, as my sister-in-law had delivered her girls (also with a shared placenta) vaginally (although she did give herself two black eyes, she pushed so hard), but when the third consultant tells you that yes, they really do think this is the right thing, we went with it.

It was utterly different and equally wonderful.  It was the day after my mum's birthday, so she and my dad came up the night before and cooked us a meal.  We had a glass of champagne and an early night and at 7 a.m. the next morning, with a kiss at L's door as we went past, we headed off to the hospital.  The scariest bit was the epidural, but otherwise I felt nothing worse than as though I was being poked through a very thick blanket.  The girls were born within a minute of each other, and came out screaming. I fed them both in theatre, possibly in specific defiance of the doula who had told me, when I enquired about her helping us after their arrival, that if I had a c-section not only would I not bond with them, but I'd also never be able to breast feed.  On the advice of friends I refused the codeine based painkillers (apparently the resulting constipation is worse than labour) and was up and about the same day, and out of hospital two days after that, although with strict instructions (vociferously enforced by my husband and father-in-law) not to drive or pick up anything heavier than the babies for six weeks.

I am, obviously, incredibly lucky to have had two such great experiences, but when thinking about what I wanted to happen this time (having had a previous c-section, they had assumed I might prefer another), I realised that the practicalities of another operation have to, for me, make aiming for another vaginal delivery the preferred option.  If I can't lift anything heavier than the baby, how am I going to get S and A out of their cots, or into the swings at the park, or push all four of them up to the nursery?  If I can't drive, now that we are no longer within easy reach of public transport, how are we going to get anywhere?  We'd cope, I'm sure we'd cope, but it'd be tricky.

So we'd decided.  We would hope, realising again how lucky we were, for a repeat of L's arrival.  This all depends of course, on the position of my scar.  So we had it checked out:  looks fine, we'll check again at 30 weeks.  Then we were told that the placenta was low:  it'll probably move, we'll check again at 30 weeks.

I'm now (nearly, the consultant is on holiday next week) 30 weeks.  The scar is fine.  The placenta has moved.

But the baby is breech.

They won't try to turn him externally because of the scar (much to my relief, as I've heard lots of anecdotal evidence about how much it hurts and none at all about how it works), and they certainly won't let me try a vaginal delivery for the same reason.

So we're left with waiting, and hoping he'll turn over of his own accord, and me spending a lot of time on all fours wiggling my bottom.  Which if nothing else is amusing B.

But the irritating thing of course, is that I can't stop thinking about it.  Every time I feel a kick or a movement, I'm trying to work out what it is that's poking at me, and to extrapolate from that which way up he is.  And, again of course, it's perfectly possible that at 30 weeks L was also breech, we just never knew.

So we wait.  And wiggle.  And do anything else that anyone else thinks will work....?

*I realise that's quite an in your face sort of word, but I just don't like the implication in saying "natural", that there's something "unnatural" about the way that S and A arrived.  Sorry.

Oh, and I know I've posted that picture of A's arrival several times before, but I just think it's awesome.


  1. Moooooove baby move!! Either way, I hope it's as great as the others x x x

  2. Acupuncture. Seriously. They do something called moxibustion for turning breech babies.

    And reading the newspaper on the floor on your knees and elbows (like the bottom wiggling, but get your elbows on the floor).

  3. Great post! Please try not to stress too much. Babies still move loads at this point and can turn right up until the end. Just try and enjoy the last two months of pregnancy :) And lots of floor scrubbing (?), ball bouncing, doing somersaults in the swimming pool and shining torches... and all of the other urban myths which may or may not make a difference! xx

  4. That second photo is a cracker, you're right.

    Hoping all goes well, whichever way your baby comes into the world xx

  5. plenty of time to turn yet, obviously a clever baby, would you want to spend all that time on your head? I'd turn around at the last minute too!!

  6. Don't worry, there's still time for the baby to turn around. Good luck with your birth, whatever happens. I think you have a very good point about having a vaginal birth when you have to get the children to nursery and so on. And yes, your c-section photo is brilliant. I am always jealous I don't have one when I see yours. xx

  7. Fingers crossed your baby moves

    Have you discovered Some great ideas to help

    Friends also found moxibustion managed to persuade a stubbornly upside down baby to flip

  8. Two of mine moved at 38 weeks. Here's hoping yours does too! x

  9. George's mum! Hello! Off to see what you've been up too, as it's been far too long... Keep sending those vibes please!

    Iota and Muddling Along - Interesting. One of my most sceptical friends also told me about moxibustion - they tried it but it didn't work: she turned through 90 degrees but just didn't have space for the full 180. I'm tentatively booked in now for after the next scan.... and in the meantime will keep wiggling and check out the website!

    Linz - am hoping that your expertise means that none of those will turn out to be "myths" because I suspect I'll be trying them all! (What's the deal with torches by the way?)

    Trish - thank you!

    Kelloggsville - I'd never thought of that, but you're right, he must be brilliant!

    Fiona - The thing is, of course, whatever happens as long as we are both fine, we will be, for want of a better word, fine. I'm just a control freak who wants things the way I want them! Thanks for the nice comment on the picture too - it's another reason to be pleased about the c-section - no way was I letting anyone that close to me with L's delivery!!

    Mwa - that's great news! Will keep hoping.

  10. Both pictures are amazing in their own ways

  11. Hi, I've just come across your post, I hope your baby has turned already, but thought I might add a little.

    Firstly I am really sorry about the comment from the doula before your last birth. That someone (theoretically trained to support women) would put that in your mind before having the Caesar is very disappointing.

    I wouldn’t look at turning your baby until you are about 34 weeks, as there is a high likelihood that the baby can turn by itself. After this time I would also recommend the use of moxa and acupuncture to help turn. It has an excellent rate of success between 34-36.5 weeks.

    ECV or external cephalic versions are useful and excellent for what they do, which is attempt to get the baby into the right position for a women who would really like a chance of cephalic vaginal delivery. Its not for everyone though but at least there is an option. They generally won’t do it when you have had a Caesar as there is a small risk of rupturing where the scar is.

    The ECV works by trying to grip the baby from the outside and move it around. The anecdotal reports you generally hear are about it being painful (sort of like a Chinese burn). The best chance of turning using ECV is close to 37 weeks as the baby is big enough to grip and if they can get it around it will generally not move back. Hopefully that answers your how question.

    Clinically I would always tell people to do whatever wives tale they like to try and get the baby around, there seem to be hundreds of tricks, some of them are really fun and generally won’t hurt you.

    I have heard of the shining the light, doing handstands in a pool, using frozen peas on where they think the babies head is and something to do with lying down an ironing board which I am yet to figure out how and why.

    But as an acupuncturist (specialising in pregnancy) and doula I am a little biased towards acupuncture and moxa - I find it to be a successful combo approaching 80% of the time though the stats go down when you are just using moxa.

    If you don't know/can't find/don't fancy acupuncture I can point you in the direction of the moxa and instructions.

    A common link to all the wives tales are that you are concentrating on your baby. I think most babies are attention seekers (who isn’t?) and by giving it attention you may be able to get the baby to head in the right direction.

    So maybe just take a little time out of your day to undistractedly think and chat to your baby, and see if that helps – if not grab your closest packet of frozen peas...


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