As I celebrate my second son's 10th birthday, I reflect on a significant moment during his journey into the world—the day I discovered he was in a breech position.
At 35 weeks pregnant, a routine check-up threw our plans for a home birth into uncertainty. Breech? No home birth? C-section? The questions flooded our minds, and we turned to my husband's aunt, a Doula, for guidance.
Her suggestion brought a ray of hope into our lives. She introduced us to a remarkable midwife who specialized in vaginal breech births. To our surprise, this midwife worked at a hospital just 40 minutes away from our home in England!
Without hesitation, we reached out to her. Her prompt response and reassuring demeanour instantly put us at ease. A few days later, we found ourselves in her hospital, seeking clarity and peace amid our anxieties.
In the days leading up to our meeting, I explored various techniques and positions to encourage the baby to turn. It felt as if my little one was guiding me to focus on our connection. I dedicated myself to nurturing that bond and paying closer attention to the baby.
Finally, the day arrived, and we made our way to the hospital. Nestled by the sea, the location offered a serene backdrop of waves and gentle breezes. Though I had envisioned a home birth, the thought of bringing my child into the world with the soothing sounds of the sea was equally enchanting.
As we entered the hospital, the midwife awaited our arrival. We began with an ultrasound scan to confirm the baby's head position. To our delight, it turned out that my baby had already made the move, and his head was now down, ready for a vaginal birth.
Although we didn't end up giving birth at her hospital, fate reunited me with this incredible midwife after a decade, through one of my clients facing a similar situation. She has since become a leading figure in the realm of vaginal breech births, not only in the UK but globally.
During my renewed exploration of breech births, I repeatedly encountered the phrase, "Breech is a variation of normal." What a reassuring statement!
Too often, we may feel a sense of personal failure or inadequacy when confronted with the term "breech." However, the truth is that the medical system's lack of support for vaginal breech births has contributed to this sense of failure.
We possess an innate power to give birth, and what we truly need is a supportive system that fosters and facilitates that power.
In this day and age, there are midwives like her who dedicate her passion, time and energy to maximizing our birthing power. This fact itself empowers us.
This incredible midwife's name is Shawn Walker. You can find information about her research projects on this website: https://optibreech.uk/about-the-feasibility-study/
Her transformative work, including research projects like the OptiBreech care pathway, instils hope for a future where vaginal breech births regain the support they deserve.
Yet, challenges persist. In West Wales, where I now reside, vaginal breech births face obstacles due to a lack of training. This presents an opportunity for change, and Shawn Walker's OptiBreech care pathway offers a potential solution.
To bring the option of vaginal breech birth to West Wales, we can take action. Contacting the local Maternity Voices Partnership and expressing the need for this service, as well as collaborating to design its delivery within the Health Board, can make a significant difference.
The Hywel Dda MVP, associated with Glangwili Hospital Carmarthen, Bronglais Hospital Aberystwyth, and Withybush MLU Haverfordwest, provides a vital platform for voicing our views and shaping the future of maternity care in the region. Reach out to Charlie Priddy, the MVP Chair, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to contribute to this essential conversation.
Reflecting on my own journey, I am immensely grateful for the presence of a midwife like Shawn Walker and the support of a Doula. They enabled us to retain our power of choice, even in the face of unexpected circumstances.
Now, as a Doula myself, I am committed to assisting my clients in embracing their birthing power, even when faced with unforeseen challenges. Each birth story is unique, and it is essential to have a system that respects and supports the innate strength of women and birthing individuals.
So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, remember that breech is a variation of normal. Seek the support you need, explore the possibilities, and advocate for a system that empowers every woman and birthing person to give birth in the way that feels right for them.