What is an unstable lie I hear you say? Well this was exactly my question to the midwife when she told me I had one.
To put it plainly it’s when little one won’t stop wriggling around in the womb during the later stages of pregnancy, putting your baby at risk of cord prolapse if your waters break.
I went to a routine midwife appointment around 37 weeks and Anabelle was laying transverse (sideways), not in the desired head down position. Previous to this appointment she’d been recorded as being in the oblique position, which means she’d moved in between appointments, or in fact had been doing somersaults the whole time.
At first I wasn’t alarmed and just thought this was normal with subsequent pregnancies for babies to not engage until labour had commenced, but then the midwife started reeling off the dangers and complications an unstable lie can entail when you reach full term pregnancy.
The main concern is if your membranes break there is a high risk of an umbilical cord prolapse, which could starve the baby of oxygen. Living 20 minutes away from our local hospital, even with an Ambulance using their blues and twos this would be too late.
Whilst my head was going ten to the dozen, the midwife was on the phone to the maternity ward booking a bed for me. I literally couldn’t get my head around the rush and urgency. My waters had never broken before so I didn’t think it was likely that they would this time. I remember saying to the midwife quite blasé that I might not be able to go to hospital as I had two other children to take care of.
She basically repeated all the dangers again, and the seriousness of the situation, and the penny dropped that I could loose my baby if I didn’t follow her advice. Needless to say as soon as I left the midwifes office I went straight home to pack, and after a few calls to my husband and parents I took myself straight to hospital. The boys were at school at the time which felt strange to not be able to tell them what was happening, but I knew I had to do this for the new baby I was carrying.
Once I was at hospital I had an ultrasound assessment which confirmed baby’s unstable position. I was told I wouldn’t be going home anytime soon, and quite possibly not before baby was born. There were talks of caesarean’s, manually manipulating baby’s position and inductions. Honestly my head was spinning. Pregnancy is such a hormonal and emotional time anyway, but this just opened the flood gates. After having a relatively uncomplicated pregnancy I couldn’t believe the unexpected turn of event’s. I was also concerned how Rob would cope finding childcare for our boys whilst I was in hospital. A mums worry never ends.
Up bright an early and feeling empowered after a lovely evening visit from my gorgeous family, I was ready to hear the paediatricians plan of action. Except after a few morning observations from the midwife I was left dumbstruck as Anabelle’s position had changed in the night and she was now presenting in the head down position. I hadn’t felt a thing! Surely there was no room in there for her to be doing such acrobatics un-noticed. I’m not going to lie I actually thought they’d got it wrong. But it turns out she had moved into the correct position.
At least there was no need to manually manipulate her into position now. Still to this day the pure thought of this makes my toes curl. But I was keen to discuss inducing labour and having her here safe, sound and in my arms. It seems I was wrong there too and the Drs and midwives weren’t inclined to stimulate labour. I felt so deflated. I’d literally been dangled a carrot.
I know I was in the best place possible to keep my baby safe, but the thought of being away from my family for so long was torture. At least when there was a provisional plan in place I could see light at the end of the tunnel. Now I just felt like I was going to go insane in hospital for weeks.
After another night in hospital and another round of observations, Anabelle’s position remained head down, so the Paediatrician and Midwives discharged me. What! I was even more confused now, and scared for my baby’s safety after all the information they’d been giving me, but I could only trust their judgement.
This wasn’t to be my final visit to hospital though, as a week later after another routine midwife check up, she was now presenting as breech! Back to the hospital I went, only to be faced with exactly the same scenarios. Talks of cesarians, induced labours and manually manipulating her position. But after another night in hospital, she moved herself back into the head down position, and was actually 2/5th’s engaged. They kept me in for a consecutive night just to be sure, but I was once again discharged.
Believe it or not when I did go into labour my waters did break, but thankfully her position remained head down, so I was incredibly lucky to be discharged and to eventually go on to have a natural birth rather than a cesarian or induced labour. I was still advised to go straight into hospital to be monitored, but I will share the labour story with you another time 😉
During the times Anabelle was presenting in unstable positions I know hospital was without a shadow of a doubt the safest and best place for me and her. But oh my word it was hard being away from my family. I felt so torn between doing the right thing, keeping her safe, and wanting to spend those precious later weeks of pregnancy with my boys before everything changed. But I am forever grateful that everything worked out for our family.
So to anybody who is experiencing an unstable lie, stay strong and stay bouncing or squatting to encourage baby into the right position and hopefully you too can have a spontaneous labour. It is also important to note that if your waters do break to phone for an ambulance straight away, and to remain on all fours until the paramedics arrive.
As always we’d love to hear your experiences, advice, questions so please leave a comment below.
Image by Anna Hardy Photography