Under the best of circumstances, birth can be a pretty high-octane event. There’s something a little bit bonkers about pushing a smaller human out of your vagina in a bloody, hours-long event and having that be “normal” — objectively speaking. Of course, childbirth is normal and totally natural, and a head-down, drug-free, vaginal birth is just one variation of it.
The other variations just add a little seasoning to your birth story. Ten-pound baby? Two-hour labor? Third-degree tearing? Cool. But how about delivering a breech baby vaginally? It’s not something a lot of moms experience firsthand, but now NCIS actress Daniela Ruah can say she’s one of them.
She announced the birth of her daughter, Sierra Esther Ruah Olsen, in a sweet Instagram post that featured a family portrait with her newest addition alongside son River, 2, and her husband, stuntman David Olsen, proclaiming that her daughter had “entered the world in her own way — breeched!” a whole three weeks before her scheduled arrival.
Breech births aren’t all that rare, occurring about once in every 25 full-term births, and it isn’t really surprising that Ruah’s baby decided to make her appearance tushie-first. Most babies go through a range of positions in the womb. A baby who is in breech position at 37 weeks, as Ruah’s was, might still do a half somersault before the big event. Usually, doctors or doulas will attempt to reposition the baby between 32 and 38 weeks of pregnancy using everything from music to external manipulation.
Still, it doesn’t always work, and while a planned C-section is considered to be the safest way to get a breech baby into the world, it can be done vaginally — if the conditions are just right.
Some of those conditions include having access to anesthesia and an operating room when the vaginal birth is attempted, just in case things go south, a distress-free baby with good vitals and in a frank breech (bottom down, head and feet all the way up) position, plus a cervix and baby that are just the right size for a complication-free delivery.
Turns out, Ruah was an excellent candidate and with the help of her doctor and doula, she was able to deliver her baby safely.
Of course, a fantastic birth story ought never to trump a healthy baby, so moms who are looking at a breech birth should definitely know the risks if they want to attempt a vaginal birth. The biggest one is a cord prolapse, when the umbilical cord descends before baby and can be squeezed as baby moves through the birth canal, interfering with blood and oxygen supply.
But if you’ve got the right conditions and a doctor who is willing to work with you and who can make the right call if it comes to that, it isn’t unheard of to give birth vaginally when your baby is determined to make their way into the world already marching to the beat of their own drum.
The most important thing is a healthy baby and a healthy mom. Ruah was fortunate to be able to deliver the way she wanted with the most ideal outcome. And looking at that picture, it looks like she’s more than healthy — she’s not even just happy, she’s over the moon! Congratulations to the family and welcome to the world, Miss Sierra!
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