Our story is about trusting birth, body and baby, appreciating breech birth as another variation on normal, and the importance of strong relational maternity care.
We'd been taking a pretty relaxed approach to planning our second homebirth. At almost 39 weeks our midwives weren't entirely sure of baby's position, so we went for a scan and learned that our cheeky baby had turned bottom-down!
We tried turning baby with acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga and an ECV but this little soul had other ideas about how and where to enter the world. We had just days to embrace this change of direction and prepare for a breech birth in hospital. Supported by the brilliant Coast Life Midwifery team, we quickly built our knowledge and confidence in birthing our breech baby and presenting our breech birth plan to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
While there's possibly a very gradual shift happening in our current hospital-based maternity system, most staff have had little exposure uninterrupted, physiological breech birth. and their preference is for a surgical or heavily managed prone birth. I've spent the best part of 20 years working in support of women's health and reproductive rights and despite this, at those few hospital visits in the last days of this pregnancy, I saw how quickly one might become overwhelmed by hospital policy and the preference of specialists, even when this goes against evidence and physiology.
Fortunately, our private midwife who has visiting practitioner status at the hospital, was experienced and confident in supporting 'hands off' normal breech births. Her expertise was essential. She held the space for us, maintaining our trust in this birth and the hospital staff's respect for her skills and our informed decisions.
At 39.5 weeks I commented to my midwife that I didn't think this baby was in any hurry. The universe had quite a chuckle and I awoke the next morning with my waters leaking. We visited our midwifery clinic and then the hospital for checks, confirming baby was in an optimal breech position with bottom in place. We then went home to rest and await labour's progress.
By the afternoon, my surges were regular and strengthening and we decided with our midwife to make the trip to hospital soon after, through the Easter long-weekend evening traffic.
We settled into the birth suite and labour intensified. I needed all the words and strength Martin offered as he held me while my body surged in powerful waves. We used our HypnoBirthing affirmations and I breathed mindfully and focused on completely letting go between surges. I stood, rocking and swaying, leaning against the raised bed back. Later I kneeled, leaning up high in the same position I'd birthed Theo, almost five years before, only this time we were in a hospital instead of our lounge room.
Earlier in the day as Theo packed his bag to go to his grandparents' house, he presented me with a beaded bracelet he'd made at kindy, and there were times during labour where that bracelet and thoughts of our beautiful firstborn gave me real courage too.
Birth waves were at their peak. Our midwife reminded me to trust my body and it took all of my focus to breathe our baby down. For the last two surges I bore down and our baby was born quickly, bottom first, and passed through to my waiting arms. A son, born at 9.59 pm, weighing 3.2 kg and measuring 53 cm long. Perfection.
The hospital staff quietly witnessing the birth shared their congratulations and left us to enjoy our tiny new human. Baby fed and snuggled skin-to-skin, his placenta was born and we rested together for a few hours before saying goodnight to our midwife and arriving home at 3 am to our own bed.
Grandma and Grandpa shared the news with Theo and they arrived for brunch later that morning to meet Ruben Rain.
We're filled with love and gratitude for this beautiful baby and the amazing supported journeys we've made to be here, together as a family of four. Where Theo's homebirth had felt like a calm, intimate celebration, Ruben's breech birth in hospital felt like a roaring triumph.
Both births relied on our preparation, informed decision-making and strong trusting relationships between us and our skilled midwives. For Ruben's birth, this extended to a vital, positive relationship between our midwives and the hospital. Our choice and our ability to access midwife-led continuity of care was central, and our hope is for all families to experience such support, trust and respect throughout their birthing journeys.
Ruben's breech birth was completely different to anything we had imagined, and we wouldn't change a thing.
We tried turning baby with acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga and an ECV but this little soul had other ideas about how and where to enter the world.
Our choice and our ability to access midwife-led continuity of care was central, and our hope is for all families to experience such support, trust and respect throughout their birthing journeys.