Footage of a doctor “turning” a very pregnant mum’s breech baby is quickly going viral as social media pays homage to the strength of the mum in question – and are left gobsmacked the doctor’s firm-yet-gentle approach.
Vanessa Fisher was 38 weeks pregnant when she underwent the procedure and went on to share the video on Facebook to show other mums that a breech baby doesn’t always mean a choice between a breech birth or c-section.
With a “graphic content” warning up front of her post, she explained she’d had an External Cephalic Version after trying numerous other things to convince her baby to shift to her preferred head-down position.
“Dr. Cummings performs a successful External Cephalic Version [ECV] to turn our breech baby at 38 weeks. Prior to the procedure, we attempted a number of other methods to turn the baby naturally. Ultimately, our goal is to avoid a cesarean section by any means possible. SHARE this video… You have options!”
What is External Cephalic Version?
External Cephalic Version (ECV) is a procedure to turn a baby from a breech position to a head first position, allowing the mother to plan for a vaginal birth. A breech baby lies bottom or feet first in the uterus. By 37 weeks most babies turn themselves, but around 4 per cent of babies remain breech at 37 weeks. ECV’s are only performed under optimal circumstances and their success rate is approximately 60 per cent.
MORE Stages of Pregnancy
During an ECV procedure, the mum-to-be is administered medication to relax her uterus and make moving the baby a little easier. The baby’s heart rate is monitored carefully and the risk of harm to mother or child is apparently less than 1 per cent.
“Honouring the desires of mothers”
While the clip is a belly turning in more ways than one, it’s also utterly incredible. The doctor can be seen firmly, but gently feeling his way around the baby and moving it into the head-down position Vanessa was hoping for. Her midwife had previously advised her on DIY methods to shift the bub, but they were all to no avail, so she turned to a specialist for some extra help.
Vanessa spoke to Scary Mommy about her ECV explaining she was keen to show another view of pregnancy “to make others aware that there are options available to them.”
She also wanted to focus on “professionals who are dedicated to seriously considering and honouring the desires of mothers through pregnancy and child birth” and made it clear that this was just one approach to birthing breech babies.
This particular professional can be seen squeezing and pushing the in-utero baby from head up to head down. After a whispered “sorry” and a final gentle pat of the teeth-gritting Vanessa’s belly, Dr Cummings requests a quick ultrasound to check the baby’s position.
“Head’s down,” he says, scanning the screen and giving a satisfied thumbs up.
“Pretty impressive,” the nurse says.
“She’s impressive,” Dr Cummings corrects, keen to give credit where it’s due.
“It’s over?” a relieved Vanessa manages.
And over it is because the baby is now in a much better position for an easy delivery. We admit we were almost as relieved as Vanessa because the whole procedure looked VERY un-fun.
“It was successful!”
The comments under Vanessa’s post predictably turned into a bit of a skirmish about perceived “c-section shaming” with many also noting this procedure can be incredibly painful. That said this was Vanessa’s choice for her baby and birth, and her doctor is extremely experienced. She’s not telling anyone else to make the same choices and she’s not bashing c-sections, she just sought to avoid one.
It seemed the procedure paid off because this new mum not only toughed out what must have been an uncomfortable procedure, she apparently ended up with a healthy baby via vaginal delivery as a result.
“My husband and I gladly shared a glimpse into our journey through this pregnancy not to imply that what we chose was right or wrong, but that it was elective,” Vanessa said. “The icing on the cake — it was successful!”
Huge congratulations to this family on their new baby – and a big thank you for sharing this unique view of pregnancy, too.