Ways to Turn a Breech Baby
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Here are two of my favorite breech stories, gleaned from the gentlebirth archives with unknown authors.
I heard of a case in our hospital where a new registrar diagnosed a breech, & fixed a fetal scalp electrode in anticipation of a vaginal birth (as per normal practice). The woman was eventually sectioned for slow progress, and all present in theatre laughed at the poor registrar as the head came first. However, he had the last laugh, as the babies buttocks appeared with the electrode in situ. Since the FSE is only disconnected immediately prior to LSCS, the baby (term) must have turned en route to theatre. Its a shame that it took such an invasive procedure as applying an FSE to demonstrate the exception to the commonly quoted rule (that babies don’t turn after 36 weeks) but it was instructive anyway…
When I was a third year medical student and barely knew which fingers were mine and which were my patient’s, I did a VE in the ER and told my senior I thought I’d found my first breech. He said to run her by x-ray to confirm (I’m dating myself) and she got to L&D sporting a film with head in pelvis. I caught the appropriate amount of flak. After change of shift, but with me still on call, a resident checked her and said, without knowing the previous, that she was breech and cussed out the unnamed ignoramus who’d admitted her without finding it out. I said nothing. Another trip to X-ray, another film with head in pelvis. Resident rechecked her and swore she’d turned to vertex. I believed him; everybody else said it was a flimsy story. During second stage the nurse got suspicious, did a VE, and swore she was FOOTLING. Big panic, stat rush to OR, (couldn’t let one of those be born, you know) and as we were prepping, the foot presented at the introitus.
The part you won’t believe is that after three people actually saw the foot, and the pace picked up to a roar with the section prep, with knife poised over belly while the induction crashed, the belly gave a sea-sickening roll, and the resident stared at me, then ordered me under the drapes to look again. I just barely got under there in time to avoid a completely uncontrolled vertex birth.
But the part comment that grips me was the part about not being believed. By the next day people were denying that it happened, and a year later when I brought up the subject with people who were IN THE ROOM, they couldn’t remember the case until I showed them the birth log. It shook my confidence enough that I went to medical records to review the case and make sure I didn’t dream it all.