Karin's once more unto the breech

When Karin Ecker was 37 weeks pregnant she was told her baby was in breech position – feet first, rather than head – and that she would have to have a caesarean birth.

Karin refused to accept that edict.

“I basically argued with the med system about having a natural birth,” Karin said. “It was very difficult because they wouldn’t let me, so I had to find a way.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to have a caesarean’ and in the end they couldn’t force me.

“I went into the hospital fully dilated, prepared to stand my ground, with a supportive midwife and a birth plan signed by me, and then it was a miracle – the woman on duty understood.

“My first baby, Arlian, is now four years old and happy and healthy.”

Karin made a documentary about her experiences, A Breech in the System, which is being shown at a special screening at the Star Court Theatre in Lismore, as a fundraiser for the Northern Rivers Maternity Action Group, next Wednesday, March 17, followed by a panel discussion with Karin, obstetrician Dr Phillip Steele and midwife Sue Cookson.

“I had a birth that was unusual and not supposed to be the way it was and it was a story worth telling other women to help them inspire them with their choice,” Karin said. “I just felt having a caesarean was wrong, I thought it would be not a birth; it’s a way to get the baby out but it’s not giving birth, and I wanted to give birth.

“In Byron, at the pregnancy support group I’d been taught all the ins and outs of labour and doing it the natural way, when I was told I had to have a caesarean, it just felt completely wrong, I wanted to do it myself.

“It didn’t seem like they were giving real reasons why, telling me it was too dangerous to have a breech birth naturally. What I found out talking to a midwife was that’s not really the whole truth. I did a lot of research and came to the conclusion that there is just as much risk having a caesarean with a breech birth.”

Karin decided if she had an opportunity to have a natural birth she would take it.

“If I’m having a child for the rest of my life then I should have the birth. It was taking charge of my own body and own story and own outcome,” she said. “When I heard I was going to have to have a caesarean it felt like I’d ordered a book and I was told I could pick up my book, but it wasn’t a book, it was someone I grew in my own tummy.”

Karin said after she’d done her research, had she felt having a breech birth was too dangerous, she would have had a caesarean.

“The skill of breech births has been lost to obstetricians; a lot of doctors have lost the skill and students don’t learn the skill,” she said. “Basically there’s a lot of fear from obstetricians to do the procedure – that’s really about litigation. Everything comes from fear. In the end it’s still the mother taking responsibility for the outcome.

“It’s very sad in my eyes that birth can’t be natural, because having done it now, I know what an incredible initiation into motherhood it is; it’s intense, it stands for what comes after, a lifelong commitment to being the shepherd of your child. It’s the body preparing for that and so much love comes from that.”

A Breech in the System will screen at 7.30pm on Wednesday, March 17, at the Star Court Theatre.

Tickets are $10 or a gold coin donation for midwifery students with ID.


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