Unsurprisingly, finding time to write the twin’s birth story has been tricky. Gosh, five kids makes most things tricky! Here’s part one of my twin breech birth story, it’s a long one.
After three healthy, straightforward pregnancies and births, a twin pregnancy was a whole new ball game. I was told all of the usual things ‘twins come early/you’ll probably have a cesarian/they won’t ‘let’ you go past 38 weeks/you’ll be constantly monitored in labour/you have to have an epidural’. Turns out a twin pregnancy is considered high risk, making it very medicalised.
At 28 weeks the twins were both breech. There was still plenty of time for them to turn. I didn’t do any of the ‘turn a breech baby’ things. Turns out that wasn’t very sensible. Things became more complicated when the twins remained breech at the 34 week mark. That’s when I tried all the tricks in book to turn the girls. I spent a small fortune on acupuncture and a chiropractor. Nothing worked.
The OB at the Canberra Hospital wanted to schedule a cesarian. There was absolutely no way I was going to consent to an elective c-section. The OB was obviously surprised when I told him that I wouldn’t be scheduling a c-section.
My twins each had their own sacs and placentas, the simplest of all twin combinations. Remember, this was my fourth pregnancy. I’d been here before and I’d learnt a lot about labour and birth. I had confidence in my body to birth babies. If I’d been a first time mum, I probably wouldn’t have been so assertive and determined.
I asked what would happen if I arrived at hospital in labour. Apparently there were only three obstetricians comfortable with vaginal breech birth. It would basically be luck of the draw. That’s when I put on my best lawyer voice. I asked him why I would need to undergo major surgery because the hospital did not have staff trained in breech birth. He acknowledged that there had been a ‘de-skilling’ for breech births. I left the hospital frustrated by the ‘one size fits all’ approach to birth.
At what was to be my last appointment at the Canberra Hospital I ended up in tears. The female obstetrician dismissed my fears about a c-section on the basis that she’d had one. She told me I didn’t need to worry about the pain. I’d always intended to have a drug free birth. Pain was not the issue. I plead my case again for a vaginal twin breech birth. I explained the physical, social and mental reasons I did not want a c-section. It all fell on deaf ears.
I was a perfect candidate for a successful vaginal breech birth. I’d had three natural births. The littlest lad’s birth was entirely drug free. He was born 20 minutes after arriving at hospital and was 4kg. I needed to find someone who believed in my ability to birth the twins.
I was feeling scared, stressed and powerless. Mr Wallace called the private hospital, Calvary John James, to explore our options. The head midwife, Sue, was extremely supportive of my intention to have a natural twin breech birth. To my amazement, Sue started calling obstetricians for us.
Finally good news. Sue found us an OB who was willing to deliver the twins breech, depending on the type of breech position. My first appointment with Dr Ken Tan was booked for 37+3. It was a huge relief to make it to that appointment!
At my appointment a scan revealed that both twins were in ‘complete breech’ positions. I asked Dr Tan if that was good, he said ‘I’d prefer frank’. But he was on board with a natural twin breech birth!
Dr Tan was generally happy for labour to start spontaneously, which was brilliant because I did not want to be induced. He was worried about the risk of still birth. I saw Dr Tan every 3 to 4 days to monitor the health of the babies, the placenta and amniotic fluid.
Perhaps a little reluctantly, Dr Tan agreed that I didn’t need to have an epidural. He warned me that I’d hate him if he had to ‘reach in’ to do a breech extract of Twin B. Dr Tan agreed there were benefits to birthing in an upright position. He told me I’d have to push hard. I was all over that. At one point Dr Tan said to me ‘I think we can do this’. I said ‘I don’t think I can do it, I know I can do it’. My mantra for achieving a natural twin breech birth became ‘I can and I will’.
Dr Tan was getting anxious each day my pregnancy continued. He booked two dates for induction. I kept avoiding it. The twins were due on Friday 24 February. I begged him to give me the weekend for labour to start. The third and final induction date was booked for Monday 27 February. The pressure was on!
If you’re curious to hear how the girls arrived earthside, here’s part two.
Please note – I chose not to have an elective cesarian based on my own personal circumstances, previous birth history and healthy pregnancy. I fully appreciate and respect women’s rights to chose how they birth.