Bumpdate 3.0: Getting Baby in Place with an External Cephalic Version

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At 36 weeks, Baby 3 was still transverse. I decided to try the external cephalic version (ECV) in an attempt to coax it head-down and avoid a c-section. This was scheduled for when I was 37 weeks and 5 days along (which was probably closer to 38 weeks because at my 8-week scan the baby was measuring a few days ahead, indicating I had probably ovulated a little earlier than usual).

my experience having an ECV to turn our transverse breech baby via muddybootsanddiamonds.comPre-Op

The day before the ECV, I had to go into the hospital to fill out paperwork and have a couple of vials of blood drawn. When I got there, it was assumed I would have a c-section that same day if the version was not successful. I panicked. That was not what my midwife and I discussed. Thankfully, the nurse left the room and got things straightened out. I would only be receiving a c-section if the ECV went wrong. Otherwise, I’d be back at full term.

To say this visit was stressful was an understatement. The nurse was basically telling me I needed to prepare as if I was having a c-section. There were forms asking if I wanted my life saved in an emergency. There were charts to make me aware of what to expect each of the three days I’d be in the hospital after surgery. I was given a surgical scrub to wash with that night and the next morning. I was going to have to go home, change my sheets, sleep in clean clothes, and use fresh towels and washcloths. I couldn’t come in wearing makeup or jewelry. We had to arrive for my 7:30am appointment between 5:30-6:00am.

The nurse attempted to insert a needle in my hand to draw blood. That’s one of the worst places for me to have a needle stuck and it was hard for me to relax. The blood wouldn’t flow into the vial so she had to start a new line in the crook of my arm. While this was going on, the woman from registration asked me questions about my primary care physician and insurance. They seemed to trade off asking me things which made it harder for me to focus.

I left with two cotton ball bandages and an ID bracelet on my arm and a baggie with a sterile wash. I cried when I got int the car. I didn’t realize there would be such a focus on a possible c-section.

My parents came over that afternoon so I could go over instructions on our daily routines and getting G off to school on the bus. We realized that we would need to wash sheets and vacuum out crumbs from the pull-out couch so they’d have a place to sleep in case I had a c-section and wouldn’t come home the following day. They left and suddenly I couldn’t focus on anything other than tidying up, laundry, and getting last minute things prepared (like packing my hospital bag!).

While I was folding clothes, I felt little jerks below my belly button. Hiccups. The baby had turned further head down! I wasn’t sure if it was really in position, but I was hopeful that it would stay that way and the OB would not have much turning to do.

I stayed up later than I wanted to. I hung out on my yoga ball and tried to come up with a c-section birth plan. I got overwhelmed with templates and decided to skip it. If the baby went into distress, I doubted I would have much say about what I wanted anyway.

ECV Day

We arrived at the hospital a little before 6am. The nurse told me to undress completely and put on a hospital gown. I looked at her like she was crazy.

“I’m here for a version, not a c-section,” I told her. Every single video or photo I had seen of an EVC being performed showed the mother wearing her own clothes laying on a hospital bed.

The nurse told me that I was correct, but in the event of an emergency c-section being needed, it would be easier if I was already dressed for it. “Act like you’re having one and you won’t get one,” she told me.

The nurse inserted a Hep-Lock in my hand and there was another blood draw. It took forever because the blood just didn’t want to flow.

Saline Lock for EXTERNAL CEPHALIC VERSION (ECV) via muddybootsanddiamnds.com
I hate these things.

Maybe about twenty minutes after that, an ultrasound tech came in to check the baby’s position, fluid, and umbilical cord. She determined it was pointing head down, towards my right. She also showed us a few images but the baby’s so big that they were really hard to see.

The OB arrived around 7:30am with another ultrasound machine, two nurses, and a student OB. He sat down and discussed what the first ultrasound tech found:

  • My fluid looked good.
  • The baby was head down, which was good, but not in position.
  • It looked like the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck.

I burst into tears when he told me about the cord, totally surprising everyone. The two nurses rushed over to hold my hand and pat my shoulder. The OB looked a bit confused and asked what there was to cry about.

I started laughing. “This is basically how I’ve been for two weeks,” I said. I knew a cord around the neck wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I knew it could make the ECV less successful. I asked him if this would mean we couldn’t do it.

He assured me the blood flow looked good, so he would try but he’d stop at the first sign of distress. He had to bring up the uncomfortable truth that there was a chance of something going wrong and I’d need a c-section, so he went over the risks of that. I made it very clear that in the event I coded I wanted to very much be saved.

My doula walked in at this point. I had asked her to be there because I was worried that if things went downhill, she might not arrive in time for an emergency c-section.

They put ultrasound gel on your belly before they begin. The OB didn’t want it to be cold, so he shoved a few packets under his arms to warm them up while we talked about whether we thought our baby was a girl or boy. I had heard good things about this OB and I think at that point I decided I liked him as well.

One of the nurses gave me an injection (I think it was Terbutaline) in the back of my arm to relax my uterus. She said it was something that could be given to asthmatic patients, so it might make my heart race. The shot was a lot more painful than I thought it would be.

Then I was lowered so my head was slightly below my belly. I got a tight feeling in my chest like something was sitting on it. I had felt this when I tried the inversion on the ironing board so I knew I was really okay. It seemed to go away after a few minutes. One of the nurses came to hold my hand and my doula came to hold a couple of my fingers of the hand I had the Hep-Lock in. The OB and the second nurse took the gel packs and squirted them onto my belly then the OB explained what he was going to do.

He did a quick scan to recheck the baby’s position. It had moved its head to my left side since the first ultrasound but was still head down. He checked the umbilical cord which still showed good blood flow and then the heart. He told his student and the nurses how he was going to move the baby and said one of them would need to immediately recheck the cord and heart after each little turn. His student was going to do that part, but it was a bit crowded on that side of the bed so the nurse holding my hand ended up doing it and I held onto the bed rail.

I couldn’t find a lot of personal stories from moms who went through an ECV, but those I did read varied when it came to how comfortable it is. For some (Kim Kardashian) it hurt. For others, it was just a little uncomfortable. I believe it has something to do with pain tolerance and what kind of breech you’ve got. Our baby didn’t have far to go and my OB got our baby in the vertex position in two turns. It almost felt like the baby clicked into place when he got it there. It was uncomfortable, but I can’t say it was painful for me. I’ve spent a few days trying to explain the feeling of having your baby manually turned, and I’m coming up short. I closed my eyes and made sure to do a lot of deep breathing.

Once the OB got the baby in place, there was one more quick scan to make sure the cord and heart looked good. They were, so the OB had me monitored for an hour. Which turned into two because I’m pretty sure we were forgotten about.

And during those two hours, I’m fairly sure the baby moved out of the vertex position into one of its choosing. I can’t say for sure, because there weren’t any scans, but Baby 3 was rolling and kicking for sure.

We got home exhausted. During lunch, I felt hiccups on my left side, up at my belly button. I began crying again. I was convinced the ECV didn’t work.

My midwife had the nurses give me a binder to wrap around my belly. I’ve been wearing it, hoping that by tightening up its space the baby will figure out what DOWN is. I was advised not to do any more spinning baby activities so I’ve been forcing myself to walk when I can and do housework since that seemed to help before the procedure.

Since I couldn’t find personal stories on ECV’s I wasn’t totally sure what to expect afterward. Here’s what I experienced:

  • Even with two turns, my belly was really sore the rest of the day. The belly binder helped. It felt the way it did after the boys were born: like someone had punched me in the stomach numerous times, but on a smaller scale.
  • I was advised to resume normal activity as long as I felt comfortable and to drink plenty of fluids.
  • My discharge notes said no exercise until I had met with my midwife. That wasn’t happening for four days.
  • I had to call to set up my next midwife appointment, and at that time I asked how long I needed to wear the belly binder for. I was told to wear it until I met with my midwife.
  • My abdomen felt a little better the next day, but I had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions — especially if I tried touching my belly.
  • Day three I felt more like myself. I could only imagine how much longer I’d have felt sore if they had to do a full turn.

Mr Boots said that out of everything he saw me go through, getting the Hep-Lock and blood draw looked the worse. He thinks that I did the ECV too soon and seems to be of the mind that we should try it one more time at 39 weeks and have me induced then and there should it be successful. It’s tempting, but I’m not sure I really want to go through all that again.

Turning my breech baby with an External Cephalic Version (ECV) Experience via muddybootsanddiamonds.com

So, how successful was the External Cephalic Version? Did the baby actually turn back like I thought? Stay tuned for my next post where I recap my last prenatal appointment with my midwife!




One thought on “Bumpdate 3.0: Getting Baby in Place with an External Cephalic Version

  1. This was a great description of how the procedure went – I haven’t had to experience that before, but I would imagine it is uncomfortable. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

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