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In one of the last checkups of my pregnancy the gynecologist told me that the baby was breached… the horror!! This surely meant a cesarean and even more surely with my bad luck… He told me to come back in three weeks, and that if by then the baby didn’t flip by herself they would like to try an external cephalic version. An external cephalic version is when a doctor manually turns the baby while monitoring its vitals. This medical procedure is recommended by the OMS and it’s a pity that despite its simplicity, it is not practiced everywhere.
During those weeks, as could be expected, I have tried everything to made the baby turn by herself: change my diet, put music and light in the lower part of my baby bump, lay down with my legs up, get down on all fours… I was even willing to put jingle bells on my bump, like our grandmothers recommend, so the baby would be attracted by the sound and move herself to its direction! I would have tried anything to avoid a cesarean, just the thought of it made me worried and sad at the same time.
Unfortunately none of this worked. The pregnancy was already quite advanced and it was too difficult for the baby to turn by herself. It was not recommended to do the version too soon since small babies turn around all the time, but waiting too long was also advices against since it’s more painful and also it’s possible that the baby will be too big to turn. So a date was set for the beginning of my 9th month of pregnancy.
The obstetrician that attended the procedure in the Miguel Servet Hospital of Zaragoza was wonderful! He explained the process in detail and responded to all my questions: I was worried that the version could cause the birth to start (I was recommended to bring my hospital bag and so I did. To be honest, I was excited to think that I could get to see the face of my Eva that very same day) to which he answered that it is very unlikely and that they take measures to try to avoid it. I was also worried that she could turn herself back again, to which he answered that it was hard enough to turn her, therefor it would be almost impossible for her to turn back by herself (later I met a mom who had that happen, but that’s just very bad luck).
I was the prefect candidate for the procedure: I am tall, I had a good amount of amniotic liquid, the baby was homogeneously small (she had a small head and didn’t weight too much) and I believe I have quite a high tolerance for pain, also she was not completely engaged yet… If it didn’t work the doctor assured me he did attend breach births and that many mothers came to Zaragoza to try them, but of course he will have to be on call that day and even if he were there were no guarantees for a vaginal birth.
So we went for it. And there was poor Dani holding and stroking my feet (where he was allowed to be) as a reaction to the horror he could see on my face. The thing is that you shouldn’t tens your belly or hardens it, even though you are in terrible pain. The doctor sinks his hands in to your bump just enough to hold the fetus’ legs in one hand and the head in the other and obviously it is almost impossible not to tense up! He almost had it once and in the last minute she escaped. And so, on the third attempt I thought, ok, I need to do this for Eva and so her birth will be better. I closed my eyes and released all the tension, I’m pretty sure that I did it by pressing on something very hard. And finally he managed to do it. Actually the procedure is very quick, it takes as long as it takes to spin around (the turning itself might feel awkward but it doesn’t actually hurt). The more tedious part is the attempt to grab the fetus; if my daughter would have been more cooperative it is possible it wouldn’t have hurt at all. Like always in my case, there was a bit of bad luck, when the doctor looked up to the screen he saw that the baby had the umbilical cord over her head and there was a danger that it would move around and end up in a dangerous position. Fear stroke again while I was admitted for observation (although it is a normal procedure to be monitored for a while after a version). Finally after an hour I was told everything was fine, that the umbilical cord ended up positioning itself where it should have and that we should be seeing each other again in about a month.
I have two friends who had this procedure done three times and it ended with nothing and two others who had them successfully. The doctors in my family (there are quite a few of them) encouraged me to try it and after going through it I am also in favor of this procedure, it is very quick and it can help avoid a cesarean.