With just two weeks to go until due date, I’ve had my final midwife appointment before my 40 weeks are up. At this appointment the top four things I was looking for my midwife to tell me were:
• Baby is still in there and alive
• Mum is well
• Baby will be arriving at 9.32am on 7 June 2014 (I wish!)
• And finally, baby is head down and in the right position
So when my midwife said the three words I had been dreading, “your baby is back to back”, I’m not going to lie my heart sunk a little. Ok, quite a lot.
In the run up to labour you hope that baby is head down, engaged, and the right way around because you know this will give you a chance of a good labour and hopefully a manageable birth, with as little intervention as possible. Throughout my pregnancy I’ve read all sorts of horror stories about back-to-back babies and how they can get stuck, how the labour is unbearable, and more often than not intervention such as a C-section, forceps or ventouse is required. Even at our NCT classes they drum into you in the final weeks not to be too lazy lying around on the sofa but to keep active, bounce on your birthing ball, go for long walks, and clean on your hands and knees to get baby into the optimum position. Apparently ‘back-to-back’ babies are on the rise because we’ve become a lazy generation. “Years ago women would have been scrubbing the floors on their hands and knees, whereas now we’re more inclined to sit on the sofa which tilts our pelvis back encouraging babies to turn the wrong way around,” I was told.
So to be informed that our baby was back-to-back the first steps I took were to:
• Go home and bounce on my birthing ball
• Watch telly on my hands and knees (ok perhaps this should have been scrubbing floors, but I’ve got a modern day mop for that!)
• Go for a long walk
• Push on baby’s bum to try and encourage him around
• Pete and I even tried talking to him and asking him nicely to turn around (like a baby could even understand what we were saying, but it was worth a try!)
For a little while I was starting to think “perhaps I have sat on the sofa too much” or “maybe I should be getting more exercise”, but after days of being more active, doing all of the above many, many times over and completely wearing myself out, has he turned? Of course he hasn’t, he’s a little boy who is comfy and happy in my tummy in the position he wants to be in.
I eventually got to the stage where it was becoming a bit of an obsession to try and turn him, but after mentioning my last appointment to other mums I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I soon realised that more or less everyone (definitely more than not anyway) gave birth to their baby…yes you’ve guessed it… back-to-back. Was their birth that horrific? No, not really. Did they all have to have intervention? No, not all of them. And have they lived to tell the tale? Yes, every single one of them and they all said they would go back for more.
So I guess why I wanted to write this post was to reassure other mums-to-be whose babies are back-to-back that as much as it is disheartening to think labour and birth may not be as straight forward as we’d all like, it doesn’t instantly mean you’re going to have an awful experience. In fact after reading many forums lots of women had a normal birth and some women even said they found it easier giving birth to their back-to-back baby compared to their other baby who was the right way around. Now I can’t say what exactly will happen of course as I haven’t been through it, but the light relief I have taken from finding out now is that you can prepare yourself for every scenario possible, so if you don’t have the best experience you can expect it, rather than be surprised by it.
Finally, what really made me smile and confirmed that perhaps we can know a little too much these days, was when my mum gave birth the phrase ‘back-to-back’ wasn’t really something that was used. So most probably millions of women were all giving birth with their babies back-to-back not knowing any different, not getting themselves worked up about baby being in a prime position, and not spending weeks on their hands and knees to try and turn their baby, which in turn enabled them to take labour as it came. Perhaps there’s a lot to be said about ignorance being bliss….
Love me xxx (just under 2 weeks to go…not that I’m counting or anything)
P.S. If you’re interested, the below sites helped explain to me what a back-to-back baby is. Plus I found it reassuring to read what other mums on the Netmums and Mumsnet forums had to say on the subject.
Back-to-back babies info: