Thursday, December 12, 2013

My ECV (oh yes, a baby post)

This pregnancy has been pretty good so far - minimal nausea, some tiredness to fight but nothing actually dangerous or seriously disabling.  I know a lot of people who have had difficult pregnancies, so I'm not complaining.

The one issue we did have was baby remaining head-up well past the point when that was ok.  We waited a few weeks to see if I could get some flipping action to happen, but right before 38 weeks we went in for an external cephalic version (ECV), where the doctor attempts to manually flip the kid from the outside.  I had read a lot of conflicting reports about what these are like - some people report a lot of pain, other people say it's no big deal.  I had no idea what to expect, but I figured even a painful attempt would be better than a c-section if it worked.  The potential down-sides included putting the baby into distress or triggering labor, so there was a small chance we'd end up having the baby instead of flipping it, but at about 38 weeks that was ok with me.  We did bring our hospital bag in the car, just in case.

We showed up at the hospital at an ungodly 6:15 am, went up to labor and delivery, and sat around for an hour while they monitored the baby's heartbeat and movement.  This happened in the outpatient/c-section recovery room, while sitting in a bed facing the door to their operating suite; I found this a little intimidating and distracting given the chance I would end up being wheeled through that door. 

Eventually I was given a muscle relaxer, which was a very sharp needle prick in the back of the arm that felt like a wasp sting.  Which is no big deal, but I mention it because it was the most pain I felt through the whole procedure.  Next the doctor verified baby's position via sonogram, gooped up my belly with gel and put pressure on the baby's head and butt to try to get her to turn forward.  There was a little resistance from baby at first, and there was a lot of pressure and some cramping, but it couldn't have taken more than a few minutes and suddenly we were done, with very little discomfort overall.  I had spent most of it waiting for the pain to start.

I had a few things going for me - baby is still riding high, and there was still plenty of fluid in there and some space to turn.  My doctor is also reportedly very good at this procedure.  I've heard that first-time moms have less luck with the ECV, but it seemed no problem at all for me.

Another hour of monitoring and we were out of there, though the day was pretty much shot for me between the very early wake-up and the muscle relaxer.  In the aftermath I was shaky and tired and couldn't control my shivering in the cold when we went outside; I sat around and took a nice 3-hour nap in the middle of the afternoon and that was my day  Otherwise, no negative effects other than a little soreness in the abdomen.

So far baby is keeping the head-down position, though there's a chance that could change.  Hopefully not.  But I'd recommend trying the ECV for those facing a potentially breech birth - just don't believe them when they say you can drive yourself home (you probably could, but you probably shouldn't), and don't plan anything for the rest of the day if you can avoid it.  I had read a lot of anecdotes online about women who just skipped it and went for a c-section instead; that seems like a rough decision to make when the ECV might be pretty easy.  I'm sure it depends a lot on personal circumstances, but it's probably worth a try, especially since it shouldn't go on for long if it isn't working.

We were pretty relieved to have at least a few more days to get ready - I'm not a huge fan of this "any time now, but maybe not for weeks!" thing that happens at the end.  Still, we are more prepared now than we were at the beginning of the week, and the laundry pile just keeps getting smaller.  Baby says, hurry up and wait! 

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