When Choice Is Not A Choice

I had a diagnosed extended breech baby in 2016. I was an otherwise fit and healthy first time mum with no other pregnancy complications. I was told by several consultants I should have a caesarean or my baby’s head could get stuck and they might die and birthing vaginally was risking my baby’s life.

I had originally wanted a home birth but after discussions with my midwifery team (who said they’d support my decision either way) and a huuuuge amount of research on my part reading papers from studies in Scandinavia around breech birth I asked for a hands off breech birth in hospital.

I knew what I had to look out for and that my labour and delivery needed to be fairly quick and progress well. The consultant reluctantly “agreed” although I was warned that it would depend on who was on duty when I came in.

I laboured well at home and came into hospital when guided by the midwife. On arrival, after hearing I wanted a hands off breech birth, the consultant said “no way, not on my watch I don’t want to risk getting sued. I’m not going to deliver your baby that way so you can either wait for the next doctor on shift, have a caesarean or we’ll put you up in stirrups, slice you open and drag her out. Which would you like?”

If I hadn’t been fully dilated by this point (they examined me before rushing me into theatre for my caesarean in a panic) or a first time mum I may have put up more of a fight but I honestly had no idea I could.

My entire experience from start of labour to full dilation was 5 hours and I just know it was progressing perfectly as per the breech birth textbook! A few of the midwives I’d gotten to know (I think I’d become rather famous because I was actually making an informed choice about my birth!) came through to see me on the ward after to sympathise with what had happened and to say I’d gotten so close!

If a doctor says you risk killing your baby with your chosen option it sort of takes away your options even though you KNOW you’ve done your research, talked to many midwives and know it’s not the case. What the doctor should have said was “I’m not comfortable with this as I don’t have the skills and so I would recommend a/b/c” When are doctors going to be trained in and give mums the real option of breech delivery as per the research and I believe the RCOG guidelines?

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