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My External Version Experience

Updated on January 22, 2015

I was clipping along my healthy and relatively easy pregnancy when the ultra sound technician discovered our little girl was Breech at our 33 week appoitment. I was completely stunned. What I had thought to be kicks at the top of my stomach, weren’t just kicks but were also punches and head movement as the aforementioned body parts were at the top of my uterus and her little rear end had sunk deep into my pelvis in a position called Frank Breech.

It took a few seconds for me to register the implications of this discovery—that my goal of having a completely natural virginal delivery wasn’t looking likely. It brought tears to my eyes and I felt crushed. The doctor told me that there was still a chance she could turn and that they would check again at my next appointment 2 weeks later. During those two weeks I tried every nutty suggestion I could find based on articles like this one:

Every day I got into a swimming pool and did flips and head stands. I put ice on top of my uterus while sitting at my desk hoping the cool sensation on her head would convince her to turn. I inverted myself while watching TV, rocked on my hands and knees while talking on the phone and at the end of the two weeks I had convinced myself that she had flipped. She hadn’t. And she still hadn’t when they checked again at 37 weeks. In these weeks I felt myself slipping into a funk as I struggled watching my dream of a natural birth disintegrate. I wish I had possessed the wisdom to be grateful that our baby was healthy (despite being poorly positioned) and had accepted that she would come in her own time and in her own way.

Since hindsight is 20/20, I jumped at the option of the External Version Procedure when my doctor suggested it at my 37 week appointment and it was scheduled for the following day. I had been preparing myself for this route and had found the following resources helpful when understanding what I was getting myself into:

The procedure was preformed at our hospital in case of any complications. We were checked into a triage room where I had to change into a hospital gown and was hooked up to an IV and a fetal monitor for an hour leading up to the procedure. They also injected me with a medication which relaxed my uterus to prevent contractions. I remember feeling so nervous…nervous about it being unsuccessful, nervous about the process doing harm to my baby, nervous that although uncommon, the procedure might go badly and I’d have to have an emergency C-Section right then and there. My husband tried to ease my nerves by making me laugh at silly things and trying some relaxation techniques we had learned in the efforts of preparing for a natural birth, but by the time my two doctors showed up for the procedure I was a jittery, sweaty mess.

The doctors asked my husband to stand at my feet and each of them took position on both of my sides. On my command, both of them dug their hands into my stomach and began pressing and rubbing and I felt the baby begin to move. Unlike the woman feature in the video I shared above, I was not able to lay there and calmly observe the procedure because I was in excruciating pain. It felt as though they were pulling my organs out while a friction-like burn seared in my abdomen. I screamed and panted like a woman in labor while the doctors put their entire weight into pushing my baby around in my uterus. After about 60 seconds they stopped and I was able to breath. It hadn’t worked. They gave me a few minutes to compose myself before asking me if I wanted to try again. I considered saying no but realized that it was my last chance at having a vaginal birth so I conceded. The second attempt I only withstood about 30 seconds before the pain became too much and I was begging them to stop. That baby wasn’t turning and I just had to accept it. As deflated as I felt with this realization, I was slowly coming to peace with the looming C-Section know that I had done everything in my power to turn our little girl.

We later discovered that my amniotic fluids were dangerously low so our little girl had to come out via C-section rather emergently anyway. I only note this here because I suspect that the low fluid levels attributed to the intense pain and not every woman who opts to have the procedure will be in the agony I experienced.

The bottom line is that babies come in the way they are intended to and it’s important to trust your body and your medical professional. And don’t forget—as I easily did—what’s most important is a safe delivery of a healthy baby which in my case was only made possible by a C-Section.


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