*This page may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links there's no extra cost to you, just a way to say "thanks" to me for recommending things we use and love.
Cozy up, sister- today I’m sharing how we flipped our breech baby girl and how she made her grand entrance into the world with her surprising birth story!
Trying to Flip a Baby…
I’m going to preface this entire blog post by saying this: I’m not a doctor. This is my personal experience, and if your baby is breech please consult your doctor or midwife to see what’s best for you and your child.
We found out Annie was breech, or head up, when I was 36 weeks pregnant. It also happened to be my birthday and it definitely wasn’t the type of surprise I had imagined, especially since she’d been head down just the week prior. Our midwife recommended we schedule what’s called an “external version” or ECV. You can hear me tell the full story of how the process worked in this IGTV video. In between that time, we did everything in our power to encourage Annie to turn head down. I visited my chiropractor three times a week instead of just two, saw an acupuncturist, and tried every essential oil and Spinning Babies move in the book. She wouldn’t budge!
Trusting God’s Plan
The tentative plan was this: get Annie flipped head down, break my water, and have her at the birth center a couple of blocks from the hospital.
It could’ve gone like this: she can’t be flipped, go home and wait until I go into labor to see if she turns and possibly have a c-section. OR go home, come back on a scheduled c-section day.
So leading up to the day of my appointment I just prayed I wouldn’t go into labor to have a shot at getting her to turn since nothing else worked. I trusted in God’s ultimate plan for her birth and clung to the promise that she’d be healthy and so would I. You can read more on my thoughts during that time in this post from Instagram.
Headed to the Hospital
The morning of October 1st Travis and I woke up early and loaded our bags into his truck not knowing if we’d meet our first daughter that day or not. His mama, Mimi, came over to haul the boys off to school since we’d be *hopefully* having a baby and didn’t know when we’d be home!
On the long drive into town there was a beautiful pink sunrise and I remember telling Trav, “it’s pink for Annie girl’s birthday”. We finally made it into town and got parked in the monstrous parking garage. After being screened for COVID, we found the labor and delivery floor and got checked in for the ECV after a pile of paperwork.
Our nurse got me and my giant belly hooked up to the monitor and asked me if I felt the contractions. I’d been trying so hard to focus on staying calm I hadn’t realized I was having minor contractions until I really zeroed in on them. My midwives were in the room with us and I was so comforted by their presence since we’d planned to deliver with them from the beginning.
Would the Version Work?
We moved across the hall and met our doctor. He pulled Annie up on the ultrasound and matter-of-factly told us exactly where her head was, showed us the cord, and told me I had a 100% chance of having a c-section if we didn’t at least try to move her. Her cord was so long that she most likely knew if she tried to move herself that she’d get tangled, so she stayed cozy tucked up in my ribs.
The thing he said that ultimately decide we should try: in 30 years of turning babies he’d only had one mama go directly to a c-section as a result of the ECV.
Needless to say, those felt like pretty good odds! He poured some oil on my belly and gently rotated Annie with a few movements. It’s similar to just massaging her into place. He calmly said, “she’s head down” and I couldn’t believe it was that simple. Afterward he told us he knows it looks easy to move a baby, but it’s a great deal of work and he’s just been doing it a long time. Definitely don’t try it at home.
Should I Stay or Should I go?
The doctor said Annie was still “floating”, which is what made her a good candidate for a version. She wasn’t engaged in my pelvis at all and at a negative two station if you’re familiar with birth terminology.
He recommended we shouldn’t drive all the way back home because if my water broke I could have a cord prolapse since she was so high up. Our midwives said we’ll work on getting her engaged in my pelvis and see if we could ramp up labor on our own before we tried breaking my water.
After the Version, I was hooked back up to the monitor to make sure Annie’s vital’s were what they should be. She was perfect, and my tiny contractions started increasing naturally because of the big movement when she was turned! The doctor popped his head in the exam room and smiled looking at the monitor saying, “looks like you won’t have to be induced!”.
While we were still in the hospital, one of my midwives helped my contractions pick up by gently pressing up on my belly while I did a forward pelvic tilt during a contraction. This helps strengthen contractions AND push baby down into the pelvis- just what we needed!
The doctor popped his head in the exam room and smiled looking at the monitor saying, “looks like you won’t have to be induced!”.
Pre Labor Plans
Technically I was in labor, but we needed to get Annie to move down in my pelvis. I sighed the hugest breath of relief as I basically ran out of that hospital knowing we wouldn’t have to give birth there.
We made it back to the birth center and our midwife that would be delivering Annie pulled her up on the ultrasound again to make sure she was still head down and in the same position. She swept my membranes with evening primrose oil and cleared us to go eat lunch and walk around to help her move down. It was just about noon and I was starving from not being allowed to eat from her Version appointment, so we did what any mama in labor would do- we got Mexican food.
After lunch, Trav and I did tons of walking at the park and I hobbled along on the curb for almost an hour to help pick up contractions. It was working! That pink sunrise had turned into the most beautiful sunny day. We decided to head back to the birth center to check my progress and continue laboring there.
Labor of Love
We made it back and got checked again. I was 3 cm dilated before lunch, and after all our walking I was at 5 cm but she was still floating pretty high in my belly. Thankfully the birth center has two giant staircases, so I got to work lunging and squatting up and down those while Travis brought all our bags in. God bless that man.
Squatting deeply in a yoga squat helped move her down and intensify contractions, so I focused on staying in that position as much as I could handle. My midwife had be pump with a breast pump “up to a contraction” and as soon as one started to turn it off. Then repeat for an hour.
While I pumped I bounced and did hip circles on a yoga ball and my midwife gave me Cotton Root and another herb blend called “Get It Started” to bump contractions even more.
Contractions naturally help engage baby in your pelvis by gently pushing them down.
Next up: castor oil. I don’t recommend this because eventually it made me vomit so much and basically never want to leave the toilet. Hey, you came for a birth story- it was bound to get a little gross 😉
Definitely Active Labor
After a few hours of stalling out, I mentioned how my surges really picked up when we had done curb walking and speed walking at the park that afternoon. So my midwife suggested we do just that! Trav and I headed out into the dusk and walked toward the hospital we’d been at earlier that day. I teetered on and off the curb in between contractions and rounds of nausea. Once surges picked up a ton, we headed back inside and I inhaled all the peppermint oil I could get my hands on to help my uneasy stomach.
More lunges and squats, a bean burrito, and a clary sage oil massage later I was in active labor and knew Annie would be coming soon.
Here’s the thing about labor: it can really sneak up on you. The combination of walking and having the sweetest birth assistant rub clary sage oil on my belly really helped speed things up. We did the massage using the same technique we’d done at the hospital- forward pelvic tilt during a contraction and Travis stood behind me to support my back. In between contractions our birth assistant, we’ll call her M, used the clary sage to encourage stronger surges by rubbing it on my belly.
After this I did hip circles on the yoga ball in between running to the bathroom to vomit up my entire life 🙂 and then I was ready to be in the water. I stood in a warm shower and the pressure combined with the warmth helped take some of the pain. Our birth team was so wonderful throughout the whole process about monitoring my blood pressure along with Annie’s vitals.
I remember standing in the shower and hearing a loud CLICK. I was so in the moment (and also IN water) that I didn’t realize it was my water breaking until I told my midwife, we’ll call her D, what happened and she was like, “yep, that’s your waters!”. I somehow managed to move to the bed and she checked me. Annie girl was engaged in my pelvis after all that hard work!
What a Water Birth is Really Like
If you’re considering a water birth, or just curious as to what it’s like, I 10/10 recommend it if you’re going unmedicated. The pressure and warmth of the water is unbelievably comforting during transition and birth.
Another TMI moment: if you poop in the water, like a loose poop, you will have to get out since your baby obviously can’t be born in poopy water. I was TERRIFIED because of the castor oil I was going to accidentally create that situation and then that would be part Annie’s birth story. *CRINGE*
I remember after being in the tub for a little while I NEEDED to sit on the toilet. That’s honestly what labor feels like when you know you’re about to have a baby. There’s also something super weird about sitting on a toilet and having a student midwife (bless her) hold a mirror underneath you and lovingly say, “if you don’t get back into the tub your baby will be born on the toilet.” So naturally I booked it back into the water to push her out.
This part seems to last the longest, when in reality it was about 10 minutes. The sweet relief of holding my baby girl after all the contractions…I would do over again in a heartbeat just for her.
Annie was born on a harvest moon, October 1st, 2020 at 11:11 pm and surrounded by so much love.
She was the cheesiest looking baby from all the vernix covering her, but she was mine and she was beautiful. She cried and I cried and we just cried at each other. Did Travis cry? Probably, and I wouldn’t blame him.
After our team cleaned her up, I moved onto dry land while she had skin to skin time with Trav. I delivered the placenta, the intricate little life source that helped nourish Annie and keep her alive and healthy while she lived in my belly. I’m thankful for that placenta.
Annie tried to latch onto Travis, so breastfeeding came natural to her with a little help. Breastfeeding, just like sleep, is a learned skill for a newborn. As a third time nursing mama I knew how to help her latch, but if you’re struggling with breastfeeding your birth team should be able to help you!
Another great resource is Babies Made Simple, an online course with mini-videos by a nurse, certified lactation consultant, and mom of three that walks you through all things sleep and breastfeeding from birth till 24 months. You can use my code “NATURALISH” for $10 off.
Birth is Beautiful
So, that’s how Annie made her big debut. No matter how you have your babies, birth is beautiful. Whether you chose an epidural or ended up getting one, whether you had a hospital or home birth…what’s important is that you felt confident and supported in your decisions.
Thanks for being here, friend.
If you’re looking into going unmedicated, be sure to check out this post that includes a free download with a list of questions to ask your doctor or midwife.
Planning some postpartum meals ahead of time? Or meals that’ll freeze great for a busy week? Check these out!