From breech birth to emergency c-section

My name is Laura. My breech birth went off-track and ended in an emergency c-section. How did it begin, and how did I experience it? This is my childbirth story.

My water broke

On the night of August 17 to 18, 2023, my water broke. Strangely enough, I remained very calm. I brushed my teeth and put on mascara, while my husband wanted to get going as quickly as possible. Fortunately, my suitcase was already packed and at hand. At a quarter to four in the morning, we arrived at the hospital and were taken to a delivery room. A short while after we arrived, the contractions gradually set in. We decorated the room with things from home (including a salt lamp, affirmation cards and cuddly toys) and I had prepared my own playlist of music. At a given moment, I decided to move to the bathroom. I took a seat in the shower and started to absorb the contractions in there.

The delivery was a team effort

The hypnobirthing course which we had taken provided us with great tools to use during childbirth. Bending over and leaning over the washbasin when the contractions became more intense gave me great relief, especially when Rens applied pressure on my lower back at the same time. This really made it feel like we were going through labor together. This first stage was going really well. I felt calm and strong.

"I can do it, the waves come and go, each wave brings our child closer to us."

The next stage: almost time to push

As dilation progressed, the contractions became more intense. At some point, the pressure became so great that it almost felt impossible to absorb it. Yet I got through it, with the help of Rens and the strength I drew from repeating the following affirmations: “I can do it, the waves come and go, each wave brings our child closer to us.” Then the stage just before I was allowed to push approached. I cried out, it felt like some kind of primal force was surging inside me. Time and again, I managed to breathe through the contractions and regain my grip. When I think back on this experience, I feel a lot of pride and admiration for myself.

Time to push

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally had enough dilation to be able to push. Unfortunately, this also meant that I had to get back into bed and lie on my back, because this was the set procedure in the hospital for a breech delivery. I went along with it, but it seemed to me that it disrupted my flow. Lying on my back with my legs spread apart felt unnatural and made me feel vulnerable. Nevertheless, I did my best to pull through and regain my strength. At some point, I was allowed to change positions and I continued on my hands and knees. This was a better position, and I felt the buttocks almost coming through. However, every time, the baby moved back in again. Gradually, time was “running out,” as I knew that I could not push for more than one and a half hours. Nothing worked. The contractions subsided, and I was told that Olivia’s condition appeared to deteriorate somewhat. This meant that I had to accept that she would have to be delivered by c-section.

A c-section after all: accepting the inevitable

Within 5 minutes, the OR was ready, and I was moved out of the room. I closed my eyes on the way there. It felt and still feels like a damper – I had been so close, and now all my hopes and expectations were dashed. The gynecologist who assisted me in the delivery room was going to perform my surgery, which boosted my confidence. She came to me just before I got the epidural and boosted my morale. She told me that I had done very well so far and had nothing to blame myself for.

Meeting our baby

The operation was done within fifteen minutes. It was quite bizarre, because I felt nothing in my entire lower body, even though I was conscious. It felt as if I were suddenly paralyzed. After fifteen minutes, my baby was held up before my eyes. I couldn’t touch her yet, but I could see her. What a beautiful and moving moment that was.

There she was all of a sudden, my, our daughter. I probably asked five times if she was really my baby, it felt so unreal. She was so perfect, so beautiful! Not long after, she was laid on my chest and I could really take her in. What an intense joy and happiness! To hear and see that she was okay. I would have preferred for her and myself to bring her into this world in a less disruptive way, but things are the way they are, and I am thrilled that she is there. Our beautiful daughter Olivia.

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Recovery after a c-section

The doctor told me that the recovery period after a C-section would last 6 weeks. The first few days after giving birth, I was literally unable to do (almost) anything. I was out for the count in bed. It was very hard for me, not being able to help or do much in caring for Olivia. Fortunately, we got off on a successful start with breastfeeding, for which I was very grateful. I gave birth on a Friday evening, and on the following Monday afternoon we were allowed to go home. Once at home, we were assigned a very nice maternity help. Slowly but surely, I was able to do more and more each day, and I was able to move around the house quite easily. It was hard for me to take it easy, and our maternity help had to regularly remind me of this fact. After a few days, we went out for the first time with Olivia for a short walk, which was so nice!

Grateful for all support

As someone, who has never been really sick before, I was struck by how slow the recovery was. Looking back, physical recovery also took at least 6 weeks. I was so happy when I was back on the yoga mat again after all this time, which helped me a lot during my recovery. I have also benefited greatly from the support of my husband (who is also the best possible dad) and my friends and (in-laws) family.

My advice to other moms: Take good care of yourself, take your time to recover and dare to ask for help (and accept it!).