Ruth Sabrosa, 31, from Islington, is mum to Ania Ines, two and a half, and Amália Rose, six months.
Amália was in the breech position (lying bottom down) but Ruth was determined to deliver her naturally at home...
When did you decide you wanted to have a home birth for your second baby?
I knew I wanted to have a home birth from the moment I found out I was pregnant. My first daughter was born in hospital, and whilst it was a very positive experience, I felt the place I would be safest and most comfortable was at home.
At what point in your second pregnancy did you find out your baby was breech?
I was told at the 20 week scan, and although I understood the position didn't really matter at this stage, somewhere at the back of my mind I did wonder if the baby might stay that way.
I had another routine growth scan at 32 weeks and this confirmed that the position was still breech. I decided to try a few things to turn her: inversions (pregnancy yoga), yogic headstands, moxibustion (Chinese medicine), visualisations and osteopathy to name but a few - but at 37 weeks another scan showed once again that she was still in the breech position so I was booked in for a meeting with the consultant.
What did your consultant recommend?
I was advised to have an external cephalic version (ECV), which is a manual procedure to try to turn the baby, and if that didn't work, I would be scheduled in for a C-section at 39 weeks.
It seemed like a vaginal breech birth was not even an option at that hospital and a home birth was completely out of the question, so I attempted the ECV.
The obstetrician managed to move my daughter slightly but she flipped back to the breech position, so I stopped it. I was then given no other option but to have a C-section.
How did you feel about this?
I was shocked that the hospital was so keen on a C-section. They wouldn't let me leave without consenting to one, even though I told them I wanted to explore my options.
I was 38 weeks pregnant at this stage and if they had their way I would have had a Caesarean one week later - but I knew baby wasn't ready. So, after careful thought and research I told them I wanted to wait and to cancel it.
The majority of the staff were not supportive of my choice, so I began a quest to find an independent midwife.
What happened then?
Several phone calls later, I came across the wonderful Maya Midwives, who happened to be experienced in vaginal breech birth and very keen to support me. I was overjoyed and it meant there was a greater chance I could have the home birth I wanted.
I withdrew from NHS care and had regular visits from the midwives to monitor the baby and check the heart rate - and then it was just a waiting game.
What happened when you reached your due date?
It came and went with not a sign of labour starting. A week later it was the same story. The Maya Midwives advised that I didn't do anything to augment the labour, such as acupuncture or reflexology, because breech babies must come when they are ready if they are going to come naturally.
So I waited and waited, until at 42 weeks I decided to go to hospital for a scan and CTG monitoring to make sure everything was OK.
The doctors said the baby was doing really well and couldn't find anything at all wrong, but that they would be happier if I'd have a C-section the next day.
How did you feel about this?
My instincts told me to wait a little longer but I agreed to come back two days later for more CTG monitoring. In the meantime I began to prepare myself for the C-section as it was becoming increasingly likely. Again the CTG monitoring showed that everything was fine but I agreed to go in the next day for my bloods to be taken in case the C-section was necessary.
Although I was more prepared for it, I couldn't understand how my body could grow this baby, keep her nourished for nine months and then just abandon her and me when it was time to be born.
And you were right to trust your instincts?
I believe so. That very night I woke at 4am with contractions that felt 'different' to the Braxton Hicks I'd been having for weeks. I called the midwife, Andy (Andrea), and she arrived an hour later.
I wasn't in any pain at all but had been preparing for this for months using Natal Hypnotherapy so didn't really expect to be.
What happened when Amália was born?
I used only a TENS machine and Natal Hypnotherapy techniques, and laboured in the bathroom before Andy suggested moving to the bedroom - I had a birth pool but there was no time to set it up as it was a really quick labour.
The contractions became intense and I knelt at the bottom of the bed.
Andy told me when she could see the baby's buttocks emerging and I just breathed with the contractions allowing my baby to descend.
Experienced midwives believe in an approach known as 'hands off the breech', so Andy basically 'caught her' as she birthed herself.
Once her body was born, I waited for the next contraction and out came the head.
The second midwife, Viv, arrived around three minutes after she was born and the placenta was delivered naturally very soon after that.
Looking back, how do you feel about the choice you made?
I couldn't have hoped for a better outcome - I am so glad that I trusted my instincts and my baby and that I had the support of such wonderful midwives.
I have been inspired and am hoping to train as a doula so I can support women with breech babies in the future, and I am running Natal Hypnotherapy workshops.
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