Buzzfeed, why are you glamorizing risking a baby’s life at homebirth?

Michael Jackson dangling baby

Buzzfeed, would you glamorize a parent who held his or her baby out over a balcony railing ten stories up as Michael Jackson is doing in this photo?

It’s really no different glamorizing a footling breech homebirth.

single footling breech

Actually it is a bit different. A breech homebirth is far more dangerous than dangling your baby off a balcony.

Why? The risks of labor differ substantially for breech babies.


Fetal head entrapment may result from an incompletely dilated cervix and a head that lacks time to mold to the maternal pelvis. This occurs in 0-8.5% of vaginal breech deliveries… The Zavanelli maneuver has been described, which involves replacement of the fetus into the abdominal cavity followed by cesarean delivery. While success has been reported with this maneuver, fetal injury and even fetal death have occurred.

Nuchal arms, in which one or both arms are wrapped around the back of the neck, are present in 0-5% of vaginal breech deliveries and in 9% of breech extractions.[4] Nuchal arms may result in neonatal trauma (including brachial plexus injuries) in 25% of cases…

Cord prolapse may occur in 7.4% of all breech labors. This incidence varies with the type of breech: 0-2% with frank breech, 5-10% with complete breech, and 10-25% with footling breech…

In other words:

At term, the baby’s head is usually the largest part of the baby. That means that if the head fits, the rest of the baby should follow without difficult (shoulder dystocia is an exception). Moreover, the bones of the fetal skull are not fused and can slide past each other, allowing “molding” of the fetal head letting it squeeze through the pelvis. In the breech presentation, the head is still the biggest part of the baby, but now it is coming last and there is no chance for it to mold to squeeze through the pelvis. There is a high risk that the head will be trapped, often resulting in the death of the baby.

In addition, in contrast to vaginal delivery where the baby’s arms are pressed to its sides, the arms of a breech baby may end up over its head. One or both can end up behind the head crossing the neck. This is known as nuchal arms. A baby with nuchal arms cannot be delivered because the diameter of the head plus the arm(s) is too big to fit through the pelvis. Unless the provider can move the arm(s) from behind the head, the baby will die.

Typically, the head fills the cervix as it is dilating, making it impossible for the cord to prolapse (fall out), a condition that routinely ends in death. In contrast, the breech, being smaller, does not fill the cervix, making cord prolapse far more likely.

Without immediate access to C-section, cord prolapse has a mortality rate from 32-47%.

The risk of death at a footling breech homebirth can be as high as 12%, which means that as many as 1 in 8 babies will die during a footling breech homebirth. That’s only slightly better than the odds of playing Russian Roulette by pointing a gun at your baby’s head. Would you glamorize that?

Buzzfeed, if you want to show what homebirth is REALLY like, show some photos of complications and death. Without those, your piece in nothing more than an advertizement for taking terrible risks with babies’ lives.

  • kt

    This one is making the rounds in my Australian mum’s groups…

    “She adds, “I wanted my child to have the bacterial and respiratory benefits of a vaginal birth if at all possible. Plus I just knew in my heart, that this baby deserved a natural birth, and nothing warranted a cesarean in this case.”
    Meanwhile, the soon-to-be mom-of-two says, “I am a doula! I love birth! The idea of seeing a vaginal breech birth did thoroughly excite me!”

    • SporkParade

      I’m enjoying reading the comments. Very glad that the overwhelming consensus seems to be that this woman risked her baby’s life and neurological health due to her condescending attitude towards women who have C-sections.

  • Heather

    You should know the difference between footling and complete breech. Complete breech (safe to deliver vaginally) babies come feet first, too. You can’t tell the difference from this photo.

    • Mel

      Um…no on both. Look at a picture:

      A Frank breech can be delivered vaginally successfully if the mother is willing to risk a substantially higher chance of the baby dying during labor.

      A complete breech cannot fit through the pelvic brim unless the legs unfold into a Frank breech.

      This baby is in a footling or kneeling breech. You can tell because there is exactly ONE foot coming out in the shower, in the bedroom and in all the other places where the mom is. If the baby was coming in a Frank or a complete breech, both feet would be visible after the hips had been delivered.

      If you want to deliver a breech baby vaginally, doing it at home is very dangerous. There is a chance that the baby’s head will become entrapped if the diameter of the hips is smaller than the diameter of the head. In that case, the baby will suffocate if the cervix doesn’t expand fast enough.
      Hurt by Home Birth’s story about Magnus’ birth is exactly what can happen if any breech is delivered at home.

      • Heather

        “A fetus with feet presenting but flexed hips and knees is a complete breech, therefore eligible for a TOL.” (JOGC guideline on vaginal breech delivery, p. 561). When the baby’s bum is on the pelvic floor, near delivery, a knee may extend and a foot deliver. This is normal in complete breech delivery. And I never said it was a good idea to do it at home.

        • T.

          You can TOL with a breech baby, but it is a hit and miss. One thing I remember reading is how there is some evidence that for male babies breech vaginal delivery could increase the risk for infertility since they are basically banging their scrotum against the cervix for HOURS.
          Why would anybody do that to their boy is beyond me.
          It is just very risky. Unless you want to have 4+ babies, I don’t see any good reason to really want to TOL with breech but *shrugs* to each their own.

          • Ceridwen

            There’s also evidence of higher risk of pelvic floor issues for female babies.

          • Cobalt


            Damage to the testes is fairly common in breech baby boys, around one in fifteen; damage to the buttocks and/or genital areas occurring in about one in five.

        • Daleth

          I doubt anyone without an ultrasound can tell the difference, **with certainty,** between a footling breech and a “fetus with feet presenting but flexed hips and knees.” Lacking that certainty, you have to treat it as a presumed footling breech and act accordingly. Otherwise you’re being irresponsible and negligent.

          Also, I question your statement that complete breech babies “are safe to deliver vaginally.” What is your definition of safe? “Only 3% of them die,” or “only 18% of them suffer permanent brain damage,” or what?

          • Heather

            And you certainly can’t tell by looking at a photo. But feeling the feet pressed against the bum anteriorly (in mother’s posterior) is a good indication that knees and hips are flexed. Ultrasound is best.

          • Daleth

            So ultrasound is best, and it’s not available in a home birth. On what planet is it ethical for a midwife to basically say, “I am willing to bet this baby’s life and its brain function on my unconfirmed and unconfirmable belief that despite the foot sticking out, it is actually in the somewhat less dangerous position of complete breech”?

            At the sight of a baby’s foot sticking out, anyone who would do anything other than call an ambulance immediately (assuming you’re in a country with ambulances, hospitals etc.), is unethical.

  • Camille

    My friend had an unassisted, footling breech home birth. Her husband delivered. She uses her experience as why homebirth is safe. She got lucky!! Yet she doesn’t realize it and is convinced its because homebirth is about the mother trusting her body. Drives me nuts.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Once again, it’s like a drunk driver using the fact that they arrived at home safely to claim that drunk driving is safe.

      Next time it comes up, ask her if she thinks drunk driving is safe because there are lots and lots of people who have driven drunk and not even gotten a DUI, much less in a car accident.

      (the US DOT estimates that there are 27000 drunken miles driven for every DUI given out. If we estimate that the average length of a drive is 8 miles, that means there is one DUI for every 3500 drunken drives. That also means that the risk of a DUI is on the order of the risk to the baby in a LOW RISK childbirth (no breech or anything). There are about 2 DUIs for every accident, so the risk of DUI OR accident is about 1 out of every 2000 drunken drives. The risk of DEATH (anyone’s death) due to drunk driving is about 2/million for each time someone drinks and drives.

    • Bombshellrisa

      There was a woman praising the skills of her “midwife” who delivered her footling breech at home. I had to hear this while I mooched internet at the local Starbucks on a Saturday morning in the rural area that is our second home, and it took all my self control not to tell that woman how absolutely lucky she and her baby are to be alive and ok. Especially since her “midwife” is an Oregon midwife who was run out of Washington for putting women and babies at risk.

      • Daleth

        Oh dude, I would not even have tried to exercise my self control. Maybe that’s a bad thing, but I would have butted right the hell in and told her what I thought.

  • Stephanie

    There should probably be a NSFW warning on this one.

  • luckymama75

    Everytime I hear from the NCB crowd, “do your research!” I just feel stabby. Because you know that means sitting on Google and reading crap from or other such nonsense.

    • Amazed

      I would think that the sight of this tiny violet foot would make a hell of research but no *sigh* Stupid me.

      • Allie P

        I saw this and immediately told my husband that if the baby presents breech, I don’t even want a TOL. Nope nope nope.

    • Bugsy


  • sdsures

    I cringed at the feet photos.

  • Ash

    On the good side the top comment is akin to “OMG that’s a foot, nooooooo”

  • Alenushka

    I grew up in Russia and I never met anyone playing Russian roulette.

  • nomofear
    • Amazed

      I looked at the comments. Again, there was someone so smart. She knew that “we’ve overmedicalized birth.” My patience for such featherheads is dangerously low. Recently, I have started to lose it in real life as well. What the hell? We’ve overmedicalized everything, they say. Oh the good old times! I have started giving them a look like, Really, girl? Really? You know you always have the choice not to go to the doctor and suffer your ailment at home non-medicalized, don’t you? And if they press, I say it aloud. The good old times when everything was natural, including the survival of the fittest! Then kindly shut up, I don’t need to hear your moans when your back is troubling you, or your blood pressure is rising, or whatever. Don’t burden me with the fact that you aren’t fit enough!

      As to the overmedicalized birth… Just how dumb should one be not to realize that even if *a big IF* we HAVE overmedicalized birth, we have also raised the chances of everyone surviving and everyone healthy,? The overmedicalized birth gave us the closest to stellar outcomes humankind has ever had! And they bemoan the loss of “natural”? No one stops them from going under a tree and giving birth to their baby or die trying to in the most non-medicalized way possible.

      They cling to that perceived “overmedicalization” as a fact, not a means to the end we all presumably desire.

      • Bombshellrisa

        Strokes, heart attacks and appendicitis have become “over medicalized” too. Come to think of it, amputations are “over medicalized” as well. I would love to hear those “birth is over medicalized” types give a good answer to why we need to keep birth practices the same as during the dark ages

        • Mac Sherbert

          I always had a parent that didn’t want to put their kids on meds. I always said that the brain is an organ like any other sometimes it needs help. (And for some reason once this is pointed out I usually got a kid on anti-depressants in the next week or two). It’s really interesting how there seems to be this stigma around “medicalized” anything.

          • toni

            hardly surprising that some people are reluctant to put their children on psychoactive drugs, I would be extremely worried to though of course open to persuasion if my son was suffering. AFAIK (please correct me if I am talking bollocks) the science is not settled when it comes to anti-depressants like it is for things like asthma treatments or w/e. I’d be more worried about the parents that are very keen to give their children these medicines. Do you come across those too? My MiL had all five of hers on various concoctions and pressures her now grown up children to put their little ones on the same stuff (Ages 3-7). Every kind of naughty or uncooperative behaviour she sees as a reason to put a child on adderral or SSRIs. She thinks I need antidepressants too. She may be right because I do feel sad a lot of the time and I am tempted to try it but my feeling is that my sadness is a normal response to living far away from my family in a place I don’t especially like with a husband that treats me like crap and a (lovely, awesome but boisterous) two year old that I never get a break from. I don’t think it’s a medical condition. Do anti-depressants help when your feelings are due to your situation and not a brain imbalance (I was always mostly happy before marriage) Isn’t clinical depression about feeling unduly glum?

          • Amy M

            Can you at least talk to someone? Maybe marriage counseling could help too? I’m not a doctor, but if you were my best friend, and were telling me that stuff, I’d be worried about you and maybe butting in too much to see if I could help. Of course, this is none of my business, but you sound pretty distressed. If your husband is open to working on the marital issues and you both want to improve your marriage, that’s a step in the right direction. If you are really that unhappy, and don’t think it can be solved, can you leave? Do you have a safe place to go?

          • Mac Sherbert

            These were kids with known mental health issues for years. They had been evaluated by several different professionals and many other interventions had been attempted. These were not just you average ADHD kind of kids. These parents were generally exhausted and struggling, but the guilt lingers. They needed someone to not judge them for “giving in” and giving their kids drugs.

          • Mac Sherbert

            As for your current state it does sound like your depression could be entirely situational. However, that doesn’t make less real! From what little I know you can only handle stressful situations for so long before you literally burnout. Sometimes your body needs help getting all those hormones back on track. Clearly, you need something to change. Is there someone you can talk to? Your husband sounds like he needs more help than you. I too have a two year old I need a break from! I get that. Could you send him to Mother’s Day out a couple times a week? Maybe have a friend keep him while you go the store?

      • Guesty

        This interview really bothered me. The thesis is that we are medicating away women’s emotions because 1 in 4 women are on antidepressants. It made me mad. Anti-depressants are a gift, for Gods’ sake, take them if you need them.

        • Elizabeth A

          My theory (unresearched) is that 1 in 4 women are on antidepressants because, despite hard-won gains for equality, women are still routinely discriminated against, harassed, abused and assaulted. Being the target of such widespread, near systematic oppression would depress anyone. It would be better to radically change the entire culture, but since that will take exhausting effort from large numbers of people for probably a few hundred years, a lot of women are going to be treated for depression while the construction is in process.

        • SporkParade

          Wow, I’m just counting the sexist stereotypes. No, menstruation does not make women moody. No, women are not naturally more nurturing than men and therefor more able to read a nonverbal baby’s cues. And yeah, it’s a lot easier to proscribe medications than it is to do talk therapy because it takes less time and is more likely to be covered by insurance. This is not exactly news, and it is not specific to women.

        • Roadstergal

          Yeah, there were times when having emotions medicated away just needed to happen. Like there were times where having pain medicated away just needed to happen. Yes, it would be preferable not to have things happen that make that necessary, but FFS, we have the technology now…

        • sdsures

          That would really piss me off, too! Without antidepressants, I’d probably be dead.

  • Paloma

    That foot is SO blue, and the picture before last in the original post shows a clearly cyanotic baby. Seriously, these people are dangerous!!

    • Amazed

      It’s VIOLET here! I see violet.

      God, if it was me, I would have hidden my head in shame for doing this to my baby. Just how blind can one be?

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        The baby survived. It appears to be breathing on its own and moving normally. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t suffer hypoxia during the birth process since it is clear that no one was monitoring it. I wonder what a study of long term outcomes of home birth children would look like. Would a greater incidence of learning or motor issues be seen? Would everyone’s greatest fear disease, autism, be more common in children born in home births*? Other learning or developmental problems?

        *Doubtful. Autism is probably not a hypoxic phenotype.

        • Haelmoon

          New study from Scotland on long term outcomes for breech babies by mode of delivery. There appears to be some consequence to vaginal breech with low apgars.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Given how excited this same group of people gets about the maybe 5 IQ points you can get from breast feeding, I’m surprised that they’d risk a breech birth. I’m guessing that this information is not widely circulated on NCB websites.

          • Haelmoon

            I have my library tracking down an electronic copy to I can go over it in more detail and this I will post again. It has problems, as do all studies, but it is an interesting approach – it seems to be the children with low APGARs that may have the increased risk, with does make some sense because these are the babies most affected by the delivery process.

          • araikwao

            But interesting given that Apgars don’t usually predict long-term outcome. I am a bit literature-fatigued after slogging away to get a project submitted, so I await your appraisal with interest!

          • fiftyfifty1

            “But interesting given that Apgars don’t usually predict long-term outcome.”

            No exactly. Apgars are not USED to predict outcomes. They are used to guide the caregivers of the newborn about what to do next. Is this a baby that is doing great on its own or does it need extra stim, supplementary oxygen, CPR? It’s a practical tool to use in the immediate neonatal period.

            That said, a low Apgar often correlates with later long term problems.

          • Amy M

            No, it would be viewed as “spewing hatred” and “bashing”, as are any inconvenient facts.

          • FormerPhysicist

            Wow. I really want to know how much consequence. Dr. Amy, please explain this paper!

          • araikwao

            I have a vested interest in CS delivery of breech being better, seeing as my first was, but those ORs are tiny, with the 95% CI it is barely above 1. Is the outcome measure a valid one?(teachers, jump in here!) I am not convinced by this. I suppose I should read the full paper..

        • Laura

          Or seizure disorders later. I just took a neuro exam for nursing school and as I read “risk factors for seizure disorders” birth injury was listed among them. I think lack of oxygen would be the biggest factor contributing to long-term problems. They don’t usually show up right away, either.

          • Amazed

            And by the time they manifest themselves, no one would think they might have something to do with the mode of birth.

          • Cobalt

            One of mine had a series of seizures years ago, and even though she was nearly nine the neurologist asked a lot of questions about her birth, checking for signs of trouble.

            Turned out to be a reaction to meds, and easily resolved by discontinuing them, but birth-related brain injury was investigated in the work up.

          • Amazed

            Oh I meant the mothers. I really don’t think they will accept that their blissful homebirth might have something to do with any deficiency their kid might have. They’ll blame the vaccines, the polluted air, anything but the circumstances surrounding the birth.

          • Cobalt

            It’s always the vaccines. Nowadays you don’t even need to be vaccinated for them to be the problem, you just have to be exposed to vaccinated people.

          • Amazed

            And of course, no doctor would ever acknowledge it. Big Pharma and its allies!

            OT: Have you seen this blog? I’ve been following it for a while but the last post was jaw-dropping, even for a Dr Amy’s faithful minion. 85 weeks pregnant, WTF?


          • Bugsy

            Wow. Stunning. The pics of the large “85-week” pregnancy belly are intriguing – just looks like a big belly to me.

            I’m the opposite of these gals – 11 weeks pregnant confirmed via multiple blood tests & ultrasounds, and yet I find I have to keep asking my husband for reassurance that my bump is in fact a bump, and not just a sign I’ve been eating too many cheese enchiladas these past few months. 🙂

          • Amazed

            It is a bump. Rest assured that it is. All good wishes to you!

            Their pregnancy bellies look like mine when I had to work in a very uncomfortable pose for a few months. I was most definitely not pregnant and I was, in fact, losing weight but my posture went to hell. I don’t care to remember how my back protested. I was never a big-bellied person – in fact, I’m one of the chicks who avoid wearing two-part suits because I need two different sizes for butt and waist – but that was the only period in my life I had a belly.

          • Bugsy

            Thanks, Amazed. 🙂

            There is such a difference between the bump and just belly weight, isn’t there?

          • Bugsy

            So it turns out my small bump is due to a tilted uterus (and probably also due to too many cheese enchiladas, however!). I had an u/s on Friday, and the baby was doing great. HB of 164 and moving non-stop. The tilted uterus helps explain why while I do have a bump, it’s not becoming as pregnant looking as quickly as I would expect!

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            That sounds…very dangerous. Pseudocyesis patients have been known to go as far as to murder truly pregnant women, cut out their fetuses, and take them as “proof” that they were pregnant and have now delivered. A “support” group for people with this delusion is likely to increase the danger of that sort of behavior. I wonder if they could be held responsible if a woman was hurt or a baby kidnapped.

          • Amazed

            It’s VERY dangerous. And I am not only talking about extreme cases like cutting unborn babies out. When I was a child, I knew a fat lady. That’s what she was in my mind – the fat lady. For TEN YEARS, the poor woman believed she was pregnant. At least ten because that’s when I was old enough to have memories. No, really, this time she was. I truly couldn’t make out her face, it was so swollen. She was gigantic, not just a baby bump. If she was truly pregnant, she would have probably had a horrifying case of uncontrolled GD.

            Then, when I met her later, I truly didn’t recognize her. Turned out that once she accepted that she would not get pregnant and presumably sought treatment, afterwards adopting a child, she was in fact a stunning blonde with finely chiseled face and legs I could kill for. What had been going on in her body, I wonder? I won’t even touch her mental state.

          • Mel

            I have compassion for those women because I can see how easy it would be to develop pseudocyesis.

            A few months ago, I thought I might be pregnant. I missed a period while on BC and my body felt weird. I took a pregnancy test which came back negative and tried to forget about it.

            My body seemed to have other plans. I had all sorts of symptoms that could either be a skipped period OR early pregnancy. Long story short, I took about 6 pregnancy tests in 5 weeks (all negative) before my period returned.

            I had access to pregnancy tests, a calm spouse, years of scientific education and clockwork periods – but still had the beginnings of a phantom pregnancy.

            How much harder would it have been if I had irregular periods or a shaky understanding of human reproduction?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I agree. Given that the majority of these women badly want to be pregnant, it must be terrible. And pseudocyesis can lead to physical changes similar to those seen in pregnancy. Basically, the maternal changes can be seen but not the fetal changes because there is no fetus there.But it’s still dangerous as anything and women who have this condition need reorientation to the real world, not “support” from a web site that feeds their delusions.

          • Cobalt

            That’s not sane. Not even close.

            I can’t even.

          • Bugsy

            *Of course* they wouldn’t have anything to do with the mode of birth…especially if it was the empowering birth of mommy’s dreams…

        • Guesty

          I am very interested in what the long-term outcomes are for home birth babies. I wonder how many of them suffered complications no one noticed?

    • Roadstergal

      The picture of a blue foot just dangling there inspires the same reaction in me of that pic of a water birth with a turd floating in the water, and that greyish-blue mummy-baby waterbirth that was circulating here a while back. How does anyone look at that and think, yes, awesome idea!

  • demodocus’ spouse

    ick. Buzzfeed, stick to your silly quizzes.

  • Mel

    How….how long was that foot exposed? One picture shows her squatting in the shower. One picture shows her in a bedroom in something like ‘child’s pose” with a cyanotic foot sticking out. It looks like she may have delivered in a birthing pool.

    That’s really, really scary.

    Why aren’t they scared?

    • MegaMechaMeg

      How can you even safely move with a chunk of baby sticking out of you? That is downright alarming!

    • mabelcruet

      They aren’t scared because they don’t understand, they’re misinformed and have probably been fed a lot of nonsense about how safe homebirth is. Picture 10-that cord looks very green to me. Its lovely that the baby is safe, its also extremely lucky that it’s alive. How often does footling breech happen? How often does each midwife train specifically to deal with this situation? My guess is that this was sheer dumb luck, except it won’t be considered that, it’ll be touted as proof that homebirth is perfectly safe, the same as the HBA3CS case was.

      • Ash

        CPMs training to deal with footling breech?

        It’s being convinced of the following
        1) it’s really rare for the baby to be footling so once it is you just have to deal with it

        2) just wait until she’s fully dilated, baby will just slide on out!

        3) cord prolapse, call emergency services, they can deal with it

        4) a stuck arm or shoulder dystocia? all the midwife has to do is gently move the arm out of the way. easy!

        5) even better, don’t touch the baby at all, baby might become disturbed, move its arms, CPMs really are better because they are “hands off”

        6) it’s possible for death to occur as a result of these complications but eh c-section is more dangerous…right?

        • mabelcruet

          So, like I said then-sheer dumb luck.

    • Mac Sherbert

      It’s really scary to think that she may have delivered in a birthing pool. Like breech wasn’t enough of a problem. Hasn’t it been discussed in a thread here that babies that are in trouble are more likely to take that first breath underwater? Surely, a breech baby is likely to be a stressed baby. I don’t get it. Why? Why? Risk your baby in this way?

  • Mel

    Maybe I should snap a shot of three hooves sticking out of a cows vagina and add some kind of cute meme like “Hey, she’s expecting twins or conjoined twins!”

    Nah. Anyone who’s smart enough to care would be horrified and the rest would horrify me.

    • demodocus’ spouse

      I had to think of how the calf/calves would have to be positioned for that to happen, but then, oh heavens.

      • Mel

        It’s actually very common in twins. Cows are born in “superman” position – head resting on extended front legs. Since both twins are often trying to be born at the same time, feet from both twins can extend from the cervix at the same time.

        It’s a pretty easy fix, too. If you can figure out which legs to which twin, you gently push one twin backwards and let the other twin be born.
        You can also get 3-4 feet presenting on one calf….that’s a good time to call the vet. (Imagine a calf in pike position with the feet coming out first.) It’s tricky to straighten those calves out.

        Calves can do a lot of weird positions, but humans have an advantage because our arms are small compared to the cow’s reproductive system and so it’s easier to straighten out a calf without hurting the dam than it is to do the same thing in humans.

        • Cobalt

          As long as the bottoms of the baby’s feet are pointing down, at least with horses (I imagine cows are fairly similar). My equine foaling course was very pessimistic on presentations where the leading foot/feet pointed up, because that meant the foal was upside down and that was very unlikely to end well.

          Anything other than foot, foot, nose was call the vet, but we had options while waiting for the vet in most malpresentations.

          • Mel

            I think horses are recognized as being the hardest possible livestock delivery – lots of legs, relatively little room 🙂
            Cows can come out intact in two ways: front feet forward and pointing to the ground with nose on hocks and spine up OR back feet forward and pointing down, tail presenting and spine up. Back feet first has a higher risk of suffocation because the umbilical can snap after the back hips are delivered but before the head is out.

            According to my husband, the worst presentations are 1) Feeling fur with no discernable features. That’s either a weird chest breech or a badly malformed calf.
            2) Just a tail. That means that the calf is completely backwards, probably has one or both feet extended towards the dam’s head (180 degrees of wrong) and is probably a twin. It’s going to be a solid hour or so of work with the vet to extract the calf. It has a chance of needing a fetotomy (which no one likes) and a much higher risk of causing severe enough injuries to the dam that we’d need to euthanize her. (Most come through fine; but the ones that don’t stick with you.

  • Amy M

    And as usual, the homebirth crowd showed up in the comments to say “Breech is a variation of normal” and “Footling breech can be safe at home if the birth attendant knows what she’s doing” and “Breech is only dangerous in a hospital with an OB because OBs don’t know how to handle breech births other than Csection.”

    Luckily there are sane people commenting there, who recognize the dangers of homebirth, especially breech—most of them are saying “You are too far from emergency services if something happens.” And the NCB loonies keep saying “Homebirth is as safe or safer than hospital birth! Do your research! Stop spewing hate! Hospitals are for sick women!” Sure is easier to repeat what you want to be true over and over than to learn something and admit you were wrong.

    • Paula

      I couldn’t decide what was scarier, the photos or the comments.

    • Bombshellrisa

      “Breech is a variation of normal” rubs me the wrong way. Ventricular tachycardia is a variation of normal too.

    • SporkParade

      See, here’s what drives me nuts. My MIL was born footling breech in a developing country where OBs *were* trained to vaginally deliver breech babies. As soon as her foot popped out, the entire ward came running. Because everyone knew that a footling breech is a major obstetric emergency.

      And stories like these are why my husband and I were the flunkies of our natural childbirth class.

      • Mac Sherbert

        My MIL had a breech baby back when they didn’t do C-sections for breech so you would think the doctors were trained to handle it…She and the baby both almost died.

  • SporkParade

    Should the foot be that blue?

    • TsuDhoNimh

      No … it’s blue because the blood supply to the leg has been cut off by the contractions (if it’s lucky) or the umbilical cord is compressed and the entire baby is that color.

      • Jodi Hilla McCormack

        Look at all the pics in the original link – the whole baby is purple-gray at birth..

        • Amy M

          A few more blue water birth babies. I read the stories about the shoulder dystocia and the baby that is born not breathing and blue, I see the pictures—and always the mother seems unaware of the danger her child was in. Sometimes, she even notes that the midwife suddenly got all medical, but she “just knew” her floppy blue baby that was stuck at the shoulders for 7 minutes is A-OK, and merely needed to be held and rubbed by mom. I can’t understand how they don’t recognize the problems—is it a case of “don’t see what they don’t want to see?” Were they previously informed that babies normally come out blue and not breathing? I would hope a scenario like that would be a wake-up call, and I guess it is for some, but others blithely ignore it.

          • Amy M


            This baby is white. Head came out, but Mom said it was find for the body to take a little longer because the baby would only try to breathe underwater if it was in distress from outside interventions like Pitocin. Or if the water was too cold.

          • araikwao

            Eek. White = bad. Not even the deoxygenated blood is getting around then..

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Holy crap, that baby looks dead. Not in trouble, dead. I can’t believe no one thought this was a problem.

          • Bugsy

            I’m not a doctor (and my OB expertise is limited to what I’ve learned here, frankly), but that seems horribly, horribly wrong to me.

          • Amy M

            That’s what I thought— I mean, what do I know, maybe all the pics I linked are of perfectly healthy babies that should have been that color? But, the ones where there is a story and the mom mentions a slow start, or “the baby needed a little help”, or “he took his time on starting to breathe”…..well, all I can say is that if the color is true (not distorted by looking at a photo on a computer), and my baby looked like that, I’d be losing my mind. I noticed also that a lot of the first photos are black and white—probably less incriminating for the midwives/doulas who recognize that white/grey/blue is not the best color for a newborn.

          • Anj Fabian

            Pale. Limp.
            Pale. Limp.
            Pale. Limp.
            I look at picture after picture looking for a flexed fist or change in color or something.

            Mom looks happy as can be while the baby is showing no signs of life.

  • Susan

    the movie Idiocracy comes to mind. In fact, it comes to mind a lot lately.