As parents navigating a pregnancy, you always have in the back of your mind that there's a chance that something negative could occur. All of us have that friend or a friend of a friend that had such an experience. However, it isn't until you're directly confronted with that "something" that your nerves are truly tested.
So last week my wife had her routine doctor's appointment for her 33rd week and it couldn't come soon enough: a few days prior, she was experiencing what seemed to us an unusual amount of Braxton-Hicks contractions. After meeting with her doctor, my wife called me at work with a good news/bad news scenario:
The good news: The Braxton-Hicks contractions were normal and there was no evidence that she was in any danger of a premature birth.
The bad news: The doctor discovered that the baby was breech.
For those who don't know, when a baby is breech their head is not facing the normal down position, but rather facing upright. This can cause a whole mess of complications that put both the baby and mother as risk. Here's an in-womb illustration:
Because of this, the doctor gave us a two week timetable to see if the baby will turn on his own. If not, the doctor will have to perform something called an external cephalic version, which is just fancy talk for slapping on some latex gloves, rubbing some jelly on a pregnant belly and manipulating it until the baby's head is facing the normal downward position.
Being unfamiliar (and uncomfortable) with this procedure, my wife and I did some research on the interned and came across the following video:
After we picked our mouths up from the floor from shock, we were determined to do everything in our power to avoid doctor's intervention and get this baby to turn back around on his own. The procedure has about a 50% percent success rate and I just didn't look safe at all. Gathering information from friends, family and the Internet, we tried a number of methods to get the baby to flip from having mommy lie in a decline position by placing 2-3 pillows at the base on her spine (didn't work), to putting a bag of frozen peas on the top of her belly (didn't work either). One site however that we found to be particularly helpful is Spinning Babies. This site is an amazing resource to help parents understand exactly what is going on when a baby is spinning inside it's mommy's belly and how her positioning affects that rotation. From this site we learned a few daily stretches that are supposed to promote healthy fetal positioning, but we didn't know for sure if it was actually working.
Soon after this came the moment of truth: Our 36th week follow up appointment. Miraculously, the baby managed to flip head down on his own and he was completely healthy (DEEP sigh of relief)!! Was it the due to the yoga-like positioning that caused the baby to turn? Or was it the frozen peas? It's too hard to tell. But what I do know is receiving this good news really put things into prospective and taught us a couple of lessons: 1) A healthy, complication-free pregnancy is a gift and should never be taken for granted and 2) Should any complications occur, my wife and I are both at our best when we lean on and draw strength from each other.