This isn’t strictly a birth story as the baby doesn’t actually come out BUT an ECV (or external cephalic version) is very much part of the preparation. By turning the baby from it’s breech position it is hoped that the mother is then able to go on and have a natural vaginal birth. Hilary has kindly shared the story behind her attempted ECV…
ECV Story (An attempt at turning a breech baby)
I was having my first baby at the age of 35. Even these days that’s still considered to be a fairly old mum! When I went to the hospital for my first check up, it was discussed that I suffered from Raynaud’s (bad circulation) and had been hospitalised with the condition back in 2006.
The midwife asked if I would take part in a study of the effects of the condition during pregnancy, whether my circulation would be affected or if it would have any affect on the baby’s growth. The study would only consist of questions on my visits but they would like to do some extra “growth scans” to monitor the baby. I was happy to agree, any extra care and excuse to “see” baby at scans before it came along was fine by me!
After my 20 week scan, at my midwife appointment, my midwife felt that the baby was in a transverse position (lying sideways). She gave me some exercises to try and encourage baby to rotate.
I was then scheduled for one of the study’s growth scans at 28 weeks, and it was at this scan they discovered baby had rotated but the wrong way – he was now breech. I was told it was still OK; there was time and a chance that he would rotate again. Again I tried exercises to encourage the turn, watching TV in some very strange positions!
At my next appointment the midwife couldn’t tell if the baby was still breech or had turned. I was scheduled for another growth scan at 32 weeks so I had to wait until then to find out.
At this scan it was discovered that not only was baby still breech, he was frank (or extended) breech. His legs were straight up in front of his face and not bent at the knee. Basically he was just folded in half! This meant the chance of him turning on his own was little to none. It was at this point that the ECV procedure was offered, I could either attempt this or it was going to have to be a c-section delivery.
I had never heard of ECV before. It was explained that one of the consultants would attempt to externally manipulate baby to turn him round, pushing him out of my pelvis and rotating.
Of course as soon as I got home I was straight on the Internet to google ECV. I had a look at what the ECV procedure was like and found a video clip on youtube showing a successful procedure being done in what seemed like a matter of seconds! I was happy to give the ECV a try as I really wanted the full “pregnancy and birth” experience; the anticipation of waiting for waters to break, the excitement of “it’s happening”, I even wanted the contractions!
I was booked in for the EVC at 38 weeks. I had been warned that the procedure could induce labour but I was ok with that, baby was far enough along that he would be ok if it did happen and I was happy to meet him early.
On the morning of the ECV I asked Hubby, “Should I take my hospital bag?” His reply was, “Yes. If you take it you wont need it, if you don’t I’ll have to race back for it if anything happens.”
So it was decided to take the bag but leave it in the car.
I arrived at the hospital and was taken into a ward with other pregnant women being monitored for one reason or another. I was scanned (just to make sure baby was still breech), then I was given an injection to relax my womb to make the manipulation easier, and then taken into one of the ultrasound rooms.
The consultant began the ECV by pressing the bottom of my “bump” near to my pelvis and pushing up. She told me he came out of my pelvis really easily and that was a good sign as that was usually the difficult part. She then started moving her hands round one side of my bump, pushing baby round. This was the painful part, Hubby’s hand was being squeezed hard and I was gritting my teeth.
She managed to get baby half way round then he stopped and wouldn’t turn any further. She let go and he whipped back round to where he started. The consultant tried again, this time with a little more force in the turning. I had tears rolling down my cheeks with the pain but wanted to persevere so I could have a natural birth. Again he went half way then stopped and whipped back round. The third attempt was even more forceful and painful. In the end my husband told her to stop as he could see the pain in my face and didn’t think we should carry on.
The consultant thought it was the fact that he was frank breech that was causing the problem and had he not been he would have turned.
I was taken back to the ward for monitoring to make sure the procedure hadn’t brought on labour. I had 2 machines, one monitoring for contractions and one to monitor baby’s heart rate.
Due to the relaxant I had been given I couldn’t feel anything but we started to notice the machine monitoring contractions started to do something. Then the one monitoring baby’s heart rate started to drop. 144… 120… 100… 88… when it got to 77 Hubby said “Should baby’s heart rate be that low?”
A midwife was passing by, she whipped back the curtain, looked at the monitor and all hell broke loose. She hit the emergency call button, dropped the back of my bed and told me to lie on my left hand side. I could hear someone calling for the consultant who had done the EVC and heard the dreaded, “Stand by to prep theatre for an emergency section!”
Panic was not the word! The consultant came in and baby’s heart rate started to climb. It went from mad panic to quietly watching the number climbing. It eventually came back up to 140 and I was told I would have to be monitored for another 2 hours before they would be happy to let me home. Thankfully all was ok. I was booked in for my section a week later and sent home.
I was disappointed the ECV didn’t work. It took me a while to accept that I wouldn’t get the experience I wanted but at the end of the day I knew it was what was best for me and my baby.
I do still sometimes feel that I have “missed out”. I have a beautiful little boy but I haven’t “given birth” and circumstances dictate that I won’t be having another baby so I won’t ever feel my waters break or know what a contraction feels like so I do feel a bit cheated, but I am glad I tried the ECV.
As for what happened when I went for my section, that’s another story…!
Thank you Hilary! But so cruel to get us this far and then leave us hanging! I look forward to the next instalment of your birth story xx
Did you have an ECV? Was it successful or, like Hilary, did you have to go on and have a planned C-section?