Pregnancy and Birth

Deep Transverse Arrest ~ Could I Have Done Something?

I am a big supporter of unmedicated, intervention-free natural childbirth when it’s possible. Getting rid of things that can slow down labor and/or cause distress is certainly a good idea. There are, of course, instances where interventions are necessary and beneficial.

I pursued having a completely natural experience with my third child because of what happened with babies one and two. I learned from their births and decided I no longer wanted narcotics, Pitocin, an epidural, artificial rupturing of membranes, internal fetal monitoring – any of it. I wanted to have him simply by my body contracting and pushing him out. And that’s how it happened. Samuel was born without any medical involvement after laboring at home for a few hours and then delivering him a mere 59 minutes after arriving at the hospital. That’s how I wanted his birth to be and I was thrilled that it played out that way. He was 7lbs12oz, weighing in between his older siblings who were 7lbs9oz and 8lbs1oz.

Elizabeth was to be born the same natural way, but her position changed everything. We were left completely alone (no meds or anything) until the spinal block was being administered in the operating room. We required a cesarean delivery because she was quite literally stuck. Her position was officially called left occiput transverse, which means she was head down, turned completely on her side, facing my left hip. She’d been like this for the entire third trimester (I had a number of ultrasounds at the end because of kidney stones) and she was unable to turn. I’m not even sure how she was able to grow properly as I would think she’d need additional space and position change to do so, but she was born weighing 8lbs10oz (3.91kg) so obviously it didn’t affect her growth.

Labor with her was fine until the pushing stage but then her inability to turn became clear. Or, I should say, after an hour and a half it did. She was ultimately identified as being in deep transverse arrest, and she wasn’t going anywhere without help. I had clearly stated that I would rather have a cesarean than forceps or vacuum extraction, so that’s what we did. I couldn’t believe I was going to have surgery! What a strange turn of events!

But now, looking back, I wonder if I could have done something before June 26th to have helped her turn. I don’t feel guilty (how could I have known?) but I enjoy looking into things like this, analyzing and evaluating. I’m a problem-solver and this whole baby position thing has had me wondering.

During my pregnancy, I found it extremely odd that she was in the same position for months. I said so a number of times, both to my midwives as well as the ultrasound technicians, but none of them gave my concerns any validation. It nagged at me, though. Having had three babies before her, I knew it was strange that I felt her move in EXACTLY the same places for the last 14-15 weeks of the pregnancy. Her feet were up here, her little fists were down there, and her knees were over there. It’s not that I expected her to completely turn or do rolls or whatnot, but there should have been some variation.

To this day, I still have a burning discomfort in my diaphragm/lower ribs from her lingering position in utero. Goodness, I hope it will eventually heal. It’s been almost nine months. :(

Anyway, what if I’d attempted to move her? To “spin” her a bit? Would it have helped? What if I hadn’t had kidney stones, and the near-constant uterine irritation (contractions) they caused? I wouldn’t have had to recline, rest, and generally take it easy. I would have been exercising that whole last trimester like I’d done with Samuel. Would that have changed things? Would exercise have helped her turn naturally?

What about her size? At the end (labor), would it have made a difference in her ability to turn and come down if she’d been smaller? Hmm, would an induction the week before (which had been suggested/offered to me) been beneficial?

…all interesting thoughts but not many that I could have, in reality, done much about. lol I chose not to induce because there was no medical reason to, and the cons outweighed the pros. I couldn’t do anything about the kidney stones. And I didn’t realize the impact of her position so I never looked into spinning or doing special techniques to turn her. I do wish I had, but I can’t live with regret. What’s done is done.

I am just so thankful that she was (and continues to be) healthy.

22 thoughts on “Deep Transverse Arrest ~ Could I Have Done Something?”

  1. Having had two c-sections (my first was definitely a product of unnecessary interventions), and I can so relate to this line of what-if questioning. It’s so hard to not feel as though there is something I could have done differently for a different outcome, but you are absolutely right about not living with regret. I feel so lucky to have my two healthy babies, and your baby looks like such a sweetie! :-)

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    1. Thanks, and I’m happy you and your little ones are healthy, too! My unexpected c-section has had me questioning things ever since, but the answers I arrived at today should give me some closure. ^_^

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    1. So much becomes clear in hindsight, doesn’t it? And a lot of it we couldn’t have known unless we researched and researched beforehand…and even then there’d likely be holes. :P
      Thank you! XO

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  2. First of all, your preggo pic is ADORABLE! Love the bump…hehe. The chiropractor I went to was in the business of turning babies who were “stuck”…I didn’t have it done, but I wonder if it would have helped in a situation like your. idk?

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    1. Lol, I was a roly, bumpy mama this time last year! ^_^
      Yeah, a chiropractor is definitely an option I could have looked into had I known it was an issue! Live and learn!!

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  3. Elizabeth is so beautiful and healthy…keep those photos coming. :) Your post brings back memories…one of my babies was in the wrong position the whole pregnancy…kiddo was completely sideways and one of two babies (twins). It made me extremely uncomfortable as I was stretched sideways and I actually had a doula and consulted other professionals to see if spinning was possible. We tried, but with it being a twin pregnancy and the other kiddo was in position (most of the time), it was going to be a tough case. Ultimately, we chose to have C-section for the sake of safety, as there was a chance that after the first twin was delivered, the sideways kiddo might not be successfully turned without complications, so I would have to have a C-section anyway. I was also thinking I didn’t want to compromise kiddos’ safety at all, so even though I wanted to have a natural birth (my first pregnancy was a no epidural, no med, natural one), I chose to have the surgery. Looking back, I don’t regret it one bit. Kiddo was a bit underweight so doctors watched carefully and I was happy that at least there were no birth complications to add on top of that. To be honest, I was just happy my babies were out safely. :)

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    1. Interesting! Yeah, twins would certainly complicate matters in regards to position. I can’t imagine the discomfort of a twin version!!
      My only regret is that her stuck position was responsible for a lot of pain, both in the last month of pregnancy as well as in labor. :( And, as I mentioned, the burning discomfort lingers. :/
      But our babies are doing well so praise the Lord!
      And thank you, I love sharing pics of my kids. ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s right…so sorry that you still get the burning discomfort. Does it get better over time I wonder? Luckily I don’t have any remnant pains but it has been years now. Although once in awhile if I workout too intensely, that C sec scar will start hurting from nowhere. But yes, praise the Lord that our babies are doing well! And love those pictures! It’s so wonderful you are documenting her growth…looking back I should’ve done more of that but I wasn’t blogging back then :)

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        1. *sigh* I don’t know if it will get better or not…or how long it might take. :/ Mine flares up when I ride a bike, climb a hill, or do ab exercises. Basically, I can’t overuse my core.

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  4. I’m glad Elizabeth is healthy! I have known a few pregnant ladies in the past few years and all of them have such different birthing stories. It definitely sounds like it’s not a “one size fits all” situation and that ultimately previously made decisions might have to fly out the window as you go along. Thanks for sharing your story!

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    1. Birth really is so different from one experience to the next. You can be prepared with your preferences but then also have a certain amount of flexibility so that you’re not devastated if/when things change. :)

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  5. My emergency c section at 28 weeks was literally life and death-we have to do this or you both die-and I still wonder if I could have done anything differently. I think it’s a sign of being a good mom. Even when you have done everything you could to make things go right, external forces still meddle and change the plan.

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    1. Interesting! Gosh, I can’t imagine going through what you went through. ((hugs)) I’m sure there was nothing you could have done (which you rationally already know, right?) but when we want things to have happened differently, we easily point a finger at ourselves, don’t we? :P

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  6. I was induced at 39 weeks with Jack because of gestational diabetes. Although I was well-controlled because I was on medication it was made very plain to me that if I did not agree to the induction that I would be going completely against medical advice. I really didn’t want to be induced because I was worried that intervention would lead to a higher likelihood of a c-section and I was constantly told to expect it to take days. In the end I was only in active labour for 3 hours and he was born with no intervention. It actually would have been even quicker if his hand hadn’t have been over his face. I do wonder a lot when I would have gone into labour naturally and what the experience would have been like.

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    1. All different kinds of situations make us wonder, don’t they? I’m happy that your induction went well – three hours is fast! It’s hard to know the right thing to do, we just want what’s best for baby!

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