Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vaginal breech birth: yes it is possible!

I was talking with a woman recently who had a c-section for her first baby, who was breech. I said something like, "Yeah, almost all breeches are c-sections now, although in Canada they're starting to do them vaginally again." She looked surprised and said, "Really? I thought they COULDN'T be born vaginally. I thought they would be strangled or something."

This woman was totally happy with her c-section, and it seemed like that was the right choice for her. She said she'd even consider a repeat c-section with her next baby, breech or not, so my guess is that given a choice between a vaginal breech and c-section for her first baby, she'd have chosen c-section.

But she didn't choose; what's more she didn't even know she had a choice. She thought her baby could never have come out safely vaginally. I worked with a client last year who found out at 36 weeks that her baby was breech. A doula friend had e-mailed me a series of photos of her friend giving birth to a breech baby, and I pulled them up on my computer just so my client could see with her own eyes: Yes, a baby can be born breech. Before she could investigate vaginal breech more fully (including whether there was anyone who would be willing to deliver her breech in the area), she ended up having a c-section for a combination of issues. Again, it was the right choice in her situation, but in my heart I thought "At least she saw what was possible, and she knew her options". I don't think it's OK for a woman who has a breech baby not to be informed that it is possible for her baby to be born vaginally, and to refer her to more information about that option. Would/could most women travel to find a breech-friendly provider? Probably not, but they can't if they don't even know about it. That's not informed consent.

Rixa at Stand and Deliver has just posted about her first day at the International Breech Conference. It is so wonderful to read about midwives and doctors talking about how to provide safe, skilled breech birth services to their patients. But it doesn't do much if women don't even know those options exist. Spread the word: vaginal breech is possible.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I just wonder how many other women are out there that just don't know what their body is capable of! Oh, it makes me so sad and so mad all at the same time. Keep on blogging - we'll tell more and more women and help them have the birth they can and deserve to have!!!