Rio born 07 February 2011, Breech Position Planned C-Section

I met Angela when I was 25 weeks pregnant. I had come back to South Africa from France to have our baby. I called Birth Options from France to make sure I got an appointment and Angela answered the phone…she could see me!

I had been doing a lot of reading and was really hoping for a natural home water birth. After being pushed through the system in France like “just another pregnant women to be tested prodded and medicalised”, being sent for endless blood tests and basically feeling like the doctors were in control of my pregnancy instead of me, I was very happy to get back to Cape Town and get in touch with a midwife who could offer me the kind of support and care I wanted for my pregnancy. I believe doctors are there for those who have complications and pregnancies that are not normal, midwives are there to help women through pregnancy and childbirth if all is well, like it is most of the time.

Around week 32 or so my baby had turned from cephalic presentation into a very undesirable breech position. NO PROBLEM, there was more than enough time for this baby to turn again many times!

Week 33, still breech

Week 34, still breech

Week 35, still breech, I was now very adept at feeling the position of my baby!

I had been swimming regularly as this was supposed to help baby turn. I was doing yoga, and especially asanas that would help baby turn.  Picture a massively pregnant woman, in the baby pool at Virgin Active doing forward rolls……this was meant to also help baby turn. I say massively pregnant because I was only due on 16 February and before Christmas everyone would comment “any day now!”  to which I would reply with a big grin, “NOPE, I still have 2 more months to go!!!”

My baby was going to turn. Angela had sent us the prep list for home births and I started to buy some of the items on the list.

Week 36, we talked about using homeopathy to turn baby, I tried it..but this was one happy baby..with her head UP!  I then started acupuncture, THIS was going to work…..I could feel baby moving so much more during the treatment!

Week 37, PANIC, baby was still breech and my partner Damien was in the Caribbean (he is captain of a private yacht and had been away from us since 12 November), and we were now talking ECV, where the doctor manually tries to turn your baby in the hospital after you have been injected with a drug to relax the uterus. Apparently, this can bring on labour and so that was the reason for the panic……WHAT If I did go into labour and Damien could not make it? Angela set my mind at ease, as she has never had someone go into labour in all the ECV procedures she has attended.

Manually turning the baby – ECV procedure.

So off to Vincent Pallotti to get this baby turned once and for all!

Angela and Keryn met my sister and I at the hospital, I had a quick scan to make sure baby had not miraculously turned and then off to the labour ward to get her head down. The procedure was rather painful, but I get the feeling Angela was quite proud about how I managed to breathe through the whole thing and I felt rather positive that I would manage through my natural birth.


Very disappointing… at this point, we started discussing a caesarian.  I just shook my head, I was determined it would not happen.

I had another acupuncture session, and apparently you can go throughout pregnancy. If only I had known, I would have gone earlier before my baby got too big to turn, I have no doubt she would have turned! I had an appointment on the 1 February to see Kim Young of Beautifully Born for a hypnobirthing session, which was also supposed to be quite successful in turning baby.

My obstetrician Dr Searle was happy to let me wait until my due date before cutting me open (which is nearly unheard of), I think I made it very clear how unhappy I was to be having a caesarian….I tried my luck at trying to convince her and Angela to maybe try a natural birth…a big resounding NO was heard! I pushed no further! (I have a friend in Australia who had recently given birth to a breech baby at home…..they did not realize he was breech… I thought I could do it too!)

31 January – 37 weeks and a few day – I had my show! Panic! I called Angela to see if I was maybe imagining things, but no, I had in fact lost the mucous plug and could go into labour any time now.  Angela came to my home and confirmed that my body was preparing for labour and there were two things I needed to do – get Damien on the next plane home (he was due home on 6 February), and pack my hospital bag……WHAT????????? I was not ready for this.

Damien started his mammoth 38-hour journey home….would he make it in time?

Angela, unbeknown to me, had her mom look after her daughter that night, because I was going to have my baby AND I had no one here to help me…..except a friend whom I called in a panic and told to be on standby!

I could not even complete my antenatal classes, only managed 4 out of 6. Called Kim and said there was no point in trying her hypnobirthing technique now, baby was on her way! YIKES!

1 February, a very good friend had her baby boy……we went to visit them, she also had to have Caesar, I was coming to terms with accepting my fate.

2 February, Damien arrived and off we went to see Dr Searle. No sign of baby just yet so there was no point taking her out right there and then. I was so happy that Jacky Searle was letting me go into natural labour before taking my baby out.

3 Feb – nothing

4 Feb – nothing

5 Feb – nothing……what the heck, was this baby ever going to come now?

6 Feb – my mom arrived back from the UK

7 Feb – 4am……”Um Damien, My belly hurts and I cannot sleep anymore…..I think it is going to be today!”

Around 8:30am I called Angela and she confirmed that I was in the latent phase of labour and I should call Jacky. I did, she was busy.

11:30 – Still no call back from Jacky…..should I call her again…..a big resounding YES from all present… “Dr Searle is busy, are you starting to panic?” I was a bit taken aback,  “NO I am not panicking, but I know I have to come in for a caesarian and she needs to get all the staff together and it is getting late…..” “Okay let me put you through to the doctor!” “Thank you”

Jacky tells me to come straight through…….I ask if I could rather come in an hour or so……”NO, it is better you come now!”

DAMN, this is scary and I am sooooooo not ready to have this baby yet!

So off we go to the hospital! We decide to leave my bag in the car because this all seems a bit unreal….Damien will fetch it if he has to.

We arrive and I get offered a lift to the ward….NO thank you I will walk!

I get up to maternity and everyone is waiting for me, Jacky was actually on the phone asking if I had arrived yet, OOPS!

I get assigned my room, hooked up to the faetal monitor, Damien goes to check me in, up comes Jacky, “Yip, you are definitely in labour”, I could now feel it quite strongly, but it was manageable.

The anesthetist comes in to tell me about the spinal block, which I am dreading. I am in tears, I am so unbelievably scared to have a caesarian it is not even funny.

Next thing they are wheeling me up to theatre and the anesthetist is behind me inserting the spinal! My legs go a bit cold and then I cannot feel anything more.

Next thing Jacky is ready to cut, Damien stands up to take photos but sits down quickly again (white as a ghost) and the anesthetist takes the camera to capture the first moments of our new baby…..

Et Voila, she is here, our baby, Rio! A baby girl weighing 3,490kg and 53cm.

We only planned on having one baby. I say, the only way you could get me to have another would be if I could be promised that I could have a natural home birth, and that cannot be certain…..I am not even sure if VBACs are done at home? So for now we are so happy with our little Rio and are extremely happy that she got to choose her birth day!

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Angela The Midwife