Vanessa Fisher had her birth plan firmly in place.
As Cafe Mom reports, for the birth of her second child, Fisher wanted the birth to be as natural as possible. The Texas mom wanted to deliver at home with a midwife present and have a “lotus birth,” in which the umbilical cord is left attached to the placenta until it dies naturally.
But at 28-weeks, things weren’t going to plan when Fisher discovered her baby was breech. She hoped the baby would position himself correctly as his due date approached, but he didn’t.
In breech presentation, instead of the baby’s head being positioned over the birth canal, the buttocks and feet are positioned to be delivered first, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Most healthcare providers recommend a Cesarian section for babies in breech position, especially premature babies, as the baby can become stuck in the birth canal or have a prolapsed umbilical cord, the association website states.
For Fisher, the mother of two was set on having a natural, at-home delivery; therefore, surgery was out of the question. Fisher was nevertheless intimidated by the process of a breech delivery. As she told Cafe Mom:
“At that point I was afraid to have a breech delivery based solely on information that I had read online. In a discussion with [my midwife], she explained that breech birth was natural and not any more painful than delivering baby in a head-down position.”
Fisher’s midwife also recommended she consider external cephalic version (ECV), a procedure in which the baby is turned in the womb by hand.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), women between 36 and 38 weeks whose babies are in breech position may be advised to undergo ECV in which firm pressure is applied to the abdomen in an attempt to “roll” the baby into a head-down position. An ECV may improve the chances of delivering vaginally.
More than 50 percent of attempted ECVs are successful, though some babies may move back into breech position. A second ECV may prove more difficult. The procedure is not without complications, either.
ACOG’s site adds that the risks of ECV include: premature rupture of membranes; changes in fetus heart rate, placental abruption, and preterm labor, reports ACOG.
Fisher admitted she was intrigued—and petrified—by the idea of having ECV:
“Although fascinating, it sounded painful, and since my baby [had] been in the same position for so long, there were sore spots on my stomach that I didn’t even like to touch myself. But the thought of him not turning — along with my misconception of breech delivery — had begun to cause me anxiety by that point, and I was open to the options.”
A conversation about the procedure with their doctor reaffirmed the mother’s priorities:
“The most important point I took away from our conversation with Dr. Cummings was that the objective was to birth a healthy baby; how he/she comes about is secondary. It was humbling to be reminded of this. I was so determined to strictly adhere to my birth plan that I had lost sight of the fact that although we all have our preferences, our priority as mothers should be to do what needs to be done to get the baby here, in our arms.”
Fisher agreed to let Dr. Cummings perform an ECV in his office, though the first attempt was unsuccessful. Fisher explained she was too stressed for it to work:
“I was tense and possibly still slightly apprehensive about the procedure, which it made it more difficult to turn the baby. He stopped there, concerned that it was too painful for me.”
A second attempt by Dr. Cummings in a medical setting — in which Fisher was given medication to relax — proved successful. The doctor was able to rotate Fisher’s baby into delivery position.
Fisher captured the procedure on video and shared it to remind mothers-to-be of their options when it comes to labor and delivery:
Of her experience which has since been viewed over three million times, Fisher told Cafe Mom:
“Mentally I was able to prepare, decided that I wouldn’t make it more complicated than it had to be, and I was going to relax and do what I needed to do to make better situation for my baby. Physically, there was a lot of pressure; it was unpleasant. You might notice that I almost grabbed the doctor’s hand when he was pushing on a sore spot. I knew that I was in good hands, and he was done so quickly I was very impressed. The peace of mind that came with the success of the procedure was priceless.”
“It was important to us to share the video to make others aware that there are options available to them, as well as professionals who are dedicated to seriously considering and honoring the desires of mothers through pregnancy and child birth. My husband and I chose a natural path for care and delivery for this pregnancy. It has been enlightening and liberating to be able to experience this process on our terms … Although in some cases it is needed, C-sections shouldn’t be the first and only solution to any and every hiccup in pregnancy. I don’t like to see a doctor’s convenience or pharmaceutical profit take precedence over a mother’s right to make good choices concerning her own body and child. Childbearing is a blessing, not a business.”
Fisher told Cafe Mom her baby remained head-down all the way up to 42 weeks. Although Fisher’s due date was December 31, she is still pregnant.
Doctors told Fisher the baby is healthy, breathing, active, and has plenty of amniotic fluid. Fisher has decided to wait to give birth until the baby is ready to come. Naturally.