Training Gap Could Have Been Disastrous For A Herriman Couple And Their Breech Baby

May 29, 2019, 7:18 PM | Updated: 7:21 pm

HERRIMAN, Utah – A Herriman couple expecting their third child found themselves in a dangerous situation. They were stuck in a medical loophole, in labor, on I-15. Their baby was running out of time. When you’re expecting a baby, you plan. “I thought we had time,” said Michelle Pease, who lives in Herriman. But those plans can change. “We got on the freeway and soon after that my water broke in the car.”

Pease hoped to deliver with a midwife. “I knew we weren’t going to make it.” Her midwife was miles away. “I felt another contraction, and I felt something come out.” Michelle’s baby was coming out feet first, the most dangerous kind of breech because the baby’s oxygen can be cut off. And worse yet, “If he was a young doctor, they wouldn’t know what to do, because they’re not trained to know what to do,” Pease said.

That’s right, most doctors trained in the last 18 years wouldn’t have been able to help her. For many years now, C-sections in breech births have been protocol. Surprisingly, delivering a breech baby naturally is no longer a focus in most OB-GYN residency programs.

“I think sometimes the medical profession will inflate the risk to avoid liability,” said Dr. Bob Silver, who teaches at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He teaches all of his medical residents how to deliver a breech baby naturally.

Silver believes all OB-GYNs in training should learn how. “Even if they don’t feel comfortable offering that service to their patients, at least they can be prepared when they’re faced with an emergency,” he said. “A lot of people concluded that breech birth was unsafe.” Many medical professionals feel not teaching the technique puts pregnant women and infants at risk.

Pease was very worried. “Going about 115 m.p.h. on the freeway, cut across four lanes of traffic, got off on the exit,” she said. And there was no time for her to have C-section.

They pulled up to the Emergency Department at Mountain Point Medical Center and luckily the OB-GYN on call had been trained in how to deliver a breech baby vaginally so he knew exactly what to do. “He crawled into the front seat of my car and instructed me on exactly what to do,” Pease said.

Paul Erwin, R.N., Mountain Point Medical Center, assisted the physician, who worked quickly. “[He] was able to grab one arm out and the other arm and then he just went and was able to get the head out. Baby was pale, limp. We could just tell baby was not well. Very, very scary. We did chest compressions for six minutes. We didn’t have a heart rate for six minutes.” She also said there was, “A lot of praying,” and encouragement, “’Come on baby, you can do it.’”

Baby Riley started breathing. “This is a miracle,” Erwin said.

Pease and her baby were fortunate. “She could have died,” Pease said. She says what happened to her is a cautionary tale, and believes all doctors should know how and be comfortable delivering a breech baby naturally. Otherwise, the outcome could be very different. “Just simply for that small percentage that is me, it could be extremely beneficial and even life-saving,” she said.

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Training Gap Could Have Been Disastrous For A Herriman Couple And Their Breech Baby