March 14, 2011 - ECV at Foothills Hospital with OB

After an absolutely stellar pregnancy, at 34 weeks, my midwives discovered our baby had turned breech. I was given instructions to have Webster Technique performed by a Chiropractor, acupuncture (Moxibustion), inversion positions, swimming, homeopathics (Pulsatilla), none of which worked in our situation. My midwives scheduled an ECV at 38 weeks at Foothills Hospital. I was hesitant to have the ECV performed as several people had said that many times if a baby is breech by the time of delivery, there’s probably a reason for it. I didn’t want to compromise the health of our child just to achieve our end result of a vaginal delivery, but after discussing the risks and benefits with our midwife we agreed to give it a try. Being reassured by the midwives that the doctors would abandon their attempts at the first sign of fetal distress was certainly a comfort. As it was explained to us, the version is performed between 37-38 weeks as a precaution if the version causes distress where an emergency c-section would have to be performed, however the midwives hadn’t heard of an ECV ever coming to that. I was told the procedure would be uncomfortable, but having planned a home birth prior to discovering the breech with no intention of using drugs for pain management, I was willing to try anything.

The doctors got my IV established, put me in Trendelenburg position, and gave me nitroglycerin to relax the smooth muscle of my uterus. When I let the doctors know that I felt flush from the nitro, the doctors palpated baby’s bum and head and instructed   me to take a few deep breathes. The force they used was overwhelming, but I hung in and worked on my relaxation breathing. The doctors made 2 attempts to turn our baby, but each time they were only able to make a slight change in his position before springing back in his cozy breech position. Baby’s vitals were stable and fine throughout the entire procedure, but when my blood pressure went to 80/40 they said, “that’s where we throw in the towel”. The procedure was most uncomfortable for me due to the position of our baby’s head up against my right lower ribs. The doctors had to get a hold of baby’s head and by doing so they had to press deeply under my lower ribs, which caused some bruising and tenderness in the days afterwards.

After the doctors let me rest for a few minutes, they came in and discussed with us what we’d like to do next. The option of vaginal breech delivery was offered as well as booking a date for a c-section. Remaining hopeful that our baby would still turn on his own, we said we’d prefer to go into natural labour and have a trial of labour in hopes for the right circumstances to have a vaginal breech delivery. Regardless, we’d be happy giving our baby any amount of labour even if it resulted in c-section. As it turned out, our baby stayed in the breech position until the end, however all stars aligned and we did get our vaginal breech delivery. At the time of our baby’s birth there was nothing any of us could see that was an obvious reason our baby was restricted from turning. No cord was wrapped around his neck or body or anything to that effect. He was just content to be backwards.

I’m thankful we exhausted all avenues to try to get our baby to flip, but I certainly would not fault anyone for not attempting an ECV. There are risks and so I think it’s a personal choice if they want to go through with such a procedure. Every pregnancy is different, so its important I think to keep that in mind when considering the overwhelming amount of information and options you are presented with.

(Tiffany went on to have a natural vaginal delivery of her breech baby - READ THEIR STORY)