When you’re a mom-to-be, you’re almost guaranteed to feel your growing baby kick or move around some. Then there’s Vanessa Fisher. She felt her unborn son do a complete 180 with a big assist from her doctor.
In an incredible video Vanessa and her husband Nick posted on Facebook, the doctor carefully turns the baby around so he can be born head-first instead of feet-first or bottom-first, a position called “breech.”
“I was just trying to relax as much as possible,” Vanessa says. “I was optimistic -- just looking forward to it working and trying not to even think negatively.”
“It’s a crazy sight,” says Nick, who shot the video. He remembers thinking: “I’m sure there’s family and friends that I wouldn’t be able to explain this to without a visual aid.”
The couple planned on having a natural birth at home. But with a baby in the breech position, Vanessa would be a lot more likely to need a C-section.
So around 37 weeks into her pregnancy, Vanessa’s midwife referred her to an OB/GYN to discuss her options. She and Nick decided to try a procedure that could boost her chances of having a natural delivery: external cephalic version (ECV).
“We were kind of curious just to see if it would work if we tried it,” Vanessa says. “I knew that I would be in a better state of mind, being at peace that he [the baby] had turned.”
As you can see in her video, ECV is a delicate attempt to rotate a baby in the breech position to a head-down position.
“It’s basically just hands-on, feeling the baby, feeling the movement of the baby,” says Bruce Feinberg MD, director of maternal-fetal medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian’s Allen Hospital.
An ultrasound of the womb can help a doctor plan an ECV or guide them while they turn the baby. A monitor keeps track of the baby’s heart rate during the procedure.
If your baby is in the breech position and it’s something you may want to try, find a doctor who’s done the procedure a lot, Feinberg says. He’s done hundreds of ECVs over the course of his career, and he says finesse is key: “Somebody who pushes too hard or does something wrong and gets the mom or baby into trouble, that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”
Early labor and changes in the baby’s heart rate are just a couple of risks of the procedure. But with good counseling from an experienced doctor, “I think it’s something that should be offered to every person that has a persistent breech at the 36-, 37-week mark and on,” Feinberg says.
Even after a successful ECV, there’s a chance your baby could turn back into the breech position. If that happens, your doctor might be able to try it again. But that gets trickier as your baby grows to full term.
When Vanessa Fisher first had an ECV at her doctor’s office, she felt tense. So her doctor stopped doing the procedure to give her time to reconsider. She soon decided to try again -- this time in the hospital, where she received medication to relax her uterus. And as her video shows, the ECV was a success.
“Our baby stayed head-down from that point on,” she says.
A few weeks later, Vanessa and Nick welcomed their son, Ashton, in the comfort of their home. “It was fantastic,” Nick says. “He was healthy and handsome.”
As to whether Mom, Dad, and big brother Jordan will someday show Ashton their home video that had social media fans buzzing, Vanessa has an enthusiastic answer: “Yes!”