An Uncomplicated Life Blog: What Having an External Cephalic Version is REALLY Like

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What Having an External Cephalic Version is REALLY Like

This past weekend, I had an external cephalic version (ECV) in attempts to turn our breech baby to the head down position.

It failed to work.

But this is what we went through in order to give it everything we had to have this baby naturally! Actually, get serious, this is what I went through to have this baby naturally:

We arrived at the hospital and got checked in, shown to our room (it was a very nice room! The hospital was recently redone and had a beautiful birthing ward) and I changed into a hospital gown. Our nurse, Sherri, was fantastic and friendly, and got me comfortable in the bed. Then she hooked up external monitors around my tummy to get a baseline on baby boy's heart beat and my contraction frequency and strength. A quick ultrasound confirmed that little man was indeed still breech, and a quick exam proved that I have indeed dropped and am quite dilated and effaced (not good signs for an ECV).

After that, I was given an IV. Nothing was run through the IV, it was just all set up and ready in case something happened during the ECV to necessitate an emergency c section. After that, one of the hospital's financial educators came through and went over billing with us. Nothing like America to show you your bill before you even get the procedure done! I mean, good Lord.

Anyway, after we signed away our retirement, the doctor came in to speak to us about what would happen. Nurse Sherri gave me a shot of a large muscle relaxer to relax my uterus from contractions. This shot also relaxes your heart muscle, so my heart started to POUND. Also, I was getting nervous! They hooked me up to a heart rate monitor too, to ensure I wasn't about to enter the Next Life via heart attack.

The doctor disabled the baby monitoring, and both oil and gel was slathered on my belly. They told me to put both hands up behind my head. Then, the resident doctor held baby boy's head (which is by my belly button) while my doctor DUG  her fingers into my lower pelvis to lift up his little butt. Since I have dropped, she really had to get in there and give it hell to lift him out of my pelvis.

Then the resident and the doctor applied pressure and counter pressure to get him rotating. Ha, pressure. Pressure is a kind way to describe that... It really felt more like their fingers were going to rip through and puncture my internal organs and attempt to externally break my water. Baby boy thought it sucked too, because his heart rate dropped. The doctors backed off, and waited for his heart rate to come back. He's a resilient boy, and it bounced back within a minute. Then they both dug in and gave it everything they had again. I should note that many women opt to have an epidural for this procedure. So it's possible to have it be painless. I'm not a fan of needles, especially in my spine, so I declined the epidural. To each her own!

Meanwhile, Kirk is holding one of my hands and nurse Sherri is holding the other and wiping away tears. I always cry when I get scared!
Thanks Google Images for the photo. What's attempted in an external cephalic version
Back to business: so baby STILL wasn't having this ECV deal. His heart rate dropped way low! The doctor stopped everything, and decided that there was something in attempting to turn him towards my right side that wasn't good. So they decided to give it a go to the left. This was MUCH less painful! This indeed just felt like crazy intense pressure. I can handle pressure... I can't handle my organs exploding.

Well, this way started to have success! He was moving! Go, baby go! And then... His head got stuck in my rib cage. They decided to give him (and me) a break to let both our heart rates resume something close to normal. After the break, the doctor asked if I wanted to give it one more try. I said absolutely! So she got a hold of his little rump again while the resident got his head, and they tried... But his head couldn't make the turn past my ribs. They determined that I'm simply too narrow/slender to turn a 36 week baby, and that he is indeed stuck in the breech position.

We weren't that surprised that it failed. There are a number of "success indicators"  for if an ECV will be successful, and I met none of them. But we were really committed to doing everything in our power to avoid a c section and have a natural and un-medicated birth. Alas, baby boy just isn't having it.

So we know what day he will be here by for sure, and it's earlier than my due date! With my contractions and increasing dilation, we're just not sure if he'll be here any earlier than that date. Only time will tell! And the good news is that I won't be 40+++ weeks pregnant in this Texas heat. So, that's a bonus.

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