I can and I will! Part one of my twin breech birth story

twin breech birth

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.

Breech twins

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.

Changing hospitals

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.



21 thoughts on “I can and I will! Part one of my twin breech birth story

  1. Claire
    I am in awe that you were able to get to term with your girls! I really can’t wait to read the rest of the story!
    Cathy xoxo

  2. having 4 kids myself, by the time I got to my last pregnancy, I was confident in my body and my ability. If my last was twins, I probably would have wanted a natural birth too.

    1. That was obviously my thinking too! Unfortunately finding individualised care that recognised my previous birth history was a challenge.

  3. Great start to the story! I worked with Ken Tan as a registrar years ago in Launceston . So pleased he ‘believed in you’.

  4. So good to know the how.. and can’t wait for part 2. But my goodness you were put through some pretty unfriendly situations before finding “the best fit” for you & the girls.. this post title sums everything up beautifully! It was amazing following the social media with you .. and to know what else was happening behind the scenes makes me even more proud to “know you”! D xx

  5. Sing it sister! Our bodies are amazing and I’m so glad you were able to find a doctor that trusted in your instincts and the birth process. A friend of Dave’s had triplets naturally at almost 36 weeks, against all odds and the doctors that were almost all universally against it. But after having had 3 uncomplicated natural births, she knew she could birth her triplets naturally and she did it! Then of course came all the advice from the professionals that there was no way she could successfully fully breastfeed all three girls without danger to their health… well, 3 healthy, extended breastfed, almost 4 year-old triplets have proven everyone wrong!!! It shits me that it can be so hard for women to find medical professions that will support their choice, whether it be natural birth, vbac, scheduled c-section, whatever!

  6. I loved following along on IG and can’t believe the girls hung on so long! I guess they were waiting for Dr Tan. Good for you for going with your gut and finding the right doctor and hospital for you, it’s true what they say, mother really does know best! I can’t wait for Coming Earthside – The Sequel!

  7. I was so headstrong this time too but unfortunately my body didn’t want to play it’s part despite everything else going in my favour. I’m dealing with it much better this time than last time though but there’s still a certain level of grief for the birth I wish I had.

  8. Oh you are so brave! Good on you for sticking to your guns and asking for what you wanted. I was scared of a C-section too, especially when they started talking about it for the toddler’s birth when his heartrate dropped. Just because I wasn’t sure I could handle a newborn and recovery from surgery, although my friends have managed to do so incredibly well!

    I look forward to reading the next part of your story when you have time to write it 🙂 One of my friends had a breech baby naturally and I was amazed (and a little scared by her labour story to be honest!) as I’d always thought it automatically ruled you out for anything other than surgery.

    1. Thanks Ingrid, being my fourth pregnancy I had the confidence to question things that I would have accepted if it was my first pregnancy!

  9. Holy Moly Claire! I love that you used your best lawyer voice and spoke up for what you both wanted and knew you could do. You’re off the charts amazing!!! I’d never think to question what the hospital told me. Can’t wait to read part 2 ❤ #teamIBOT

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