My External Cephalic Version

by jessicaturner on June 30, 2011

Adeline is one week old today! We are so blessed by this sweet girl.

Adeline, 1 day old

Today, I wanted to just share about the external cephalic version (aka: a version), because it played such a huge part in her birth story. I also hope my story maybe helps others faced with considering this option.

We learned that Adeline was breech a few months ago and tried many alternative methods to get her to turn, including three Webster techniques in the 10 days prior to having her. At one point, we thought Adeline had turned, but looking back, I think we were wrong.

I really wanted a vaginal birth, so our last option was to have an external cephalic version.

I spent a lot of time talking with people who had both successful and unsuccessful versions, as well as health professionals.

The Positives and Negatives

Important details that made a version more likely to be successful:

  • This was my second baby, making my abdomen more pliable during a version
  • I had a more than average amount of amniotic fluid (low fluid can injure the baby)
  • Adeline had not dropped into the pelvis
  • She was frank breech (bottom down, not feet down)

The factors that were against us:

  • Adeline was a big baby. Though I had a big baby before (Elias was 8 lbs 3 oz, and they estimated Adeline was 8 lbs 6 oz), big babies can be harder to turn.
  • I had an anterior placenta (my placenta was in front of the baby), which makes things a bit riskier.
  • I was 39 weeks and one day. I have read that versions I more successful at 36-37 weeks, but where we are, they do not do them prior to 39 weeks.

The hospital staff, including my midwife, really prepared me for the strong possibility of a csection. No one seemed that optimistic, which was discouraging. Angie even said, “Jess, I have been praying about this a ton and I don’t have a peace about it. I don’t think the version is going to work and I think you are going to have a csection.”

But I didn’t want to give up. Somehow, my heart still felt like we had to do it.

I was offered an epidural for the version. I was torn about having an epidural for the version because it would mean that I would have it for the birth (I wanted to try to have a natural birth). However, research has shown that versions on breech babies are more successful when the mother has an epidural because she is more relaxed.

So I decided to go for it. Ultimately, if I wanted a vaginal birth, I felt like it was the best decision.

The Version

Before the procedure, the tension in the room was palpable. Close to 15 people were in the room. However, before they started the version, Angie prayed over me and the doctors, which brought such peace to the room.

The procedure took less than five minutes. Adeline and I were monitored the whole time to make sure neither of us went into distress. They did an ultrasound to determine what way Adeline was facing, her positioning and how they were going to rotate her.

I was laying flat on my back for the version and two doctors stood on either side of me. They slowly pressed into my stomach and turned Adeline.Because of the epidural, I did not have any pain, just a TON of pressure. At one point, I almost asked them to stop, but I gritted my teeth, knowing they were making progress and that it wouldn’t last long.

When they got her to turn, everyone started cheering. Some clapped. I cried. Matthew cried. Angie cried.

It was amazing.

In retrospect, I could not have withstood the version without the epidural, and I would recommend it to anyone who was going to undergo this procedure.

Tomorrow I will share more of Adeline’s birth story.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

DARA GATES June 30, 2011 at 8:19 am

Amazing! God is SO good!


Megan Hinz June 30, 2011 at 8:22 am

Thanks for the info Jess! Very touching story :)


Therese June 30, 2011 at 8:42 am

I am SO glad it was a positive experience, and look at how beautiful that baby turned out. When Michael was breech, my OB would not even consider a version. If he didn’t turn, I was going to be scheduled for a C-section. Thankfully, he did turn, and showed up 18 days early! Again, so thankful Adeline turned for you! We were praying hard up here in WI! :)


Michelle DeRusha June 30, 2011 at 9:00 am

I had a version for my second baby, Rowan, when he was 38 weeks old. I didn’t have an epidural — for some reasons that was not offered as an option — so it was hugly uncomfortable. But it took only a few minutes, and it worked! I was grateful not to have to have a c-section, and Rowan was born healthy. Now I see why he was upside-down — he’s a strong-willed, six-year-old red-head who still needs some “turning around” on some days!

I wish I’d read this story before my version — it would have put me so much more at ease. This will be helpful to other women, I’m sure!

And congratulations on little Adeline — she is super cute!


Jen H. June 30, 2011 at 9:16 am

Yay! So thankful it all worked out well and that you have that beautiful baby in your arms! :)


Jill June 30, 2011 at 9:23 am

I had a version at about 37 weeks with my daughter… I wish I had been offered an epidural – it was worse pain than the natural childbirth that came 4 weeks later! Sooo glad this was a good experience for you!


Mom July 1, 2011 at 1:00 am

Awesome picture of our little sweetheart…..little bird mouth….just made me smile :) xoxoxo


Ladynred July 1, 2011 at 5:55 am

Yes a very touching story and I’m glad that everything works out well and successful. We have an amazing God and your little Adeline is adorable! Congratulations!!!


Lane July 1, 2011 at 7:43 am

Thanks for sharing your experience! I had actually never heard of this so it was interesting to learn something new. I am so happy it worked for you!!! Adeline is just precious! I LOVE her name!!! It’s actually on my list of future girl names.


Alexis July 1, 2011 at 11:20 am

You’re brave Jessica! I admire women like you!


Katie July 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I love your blog and have followed your pregnancy. BOTH of my daughters were breech, so I was praying with you that your sweetie would turn! My first daughter came very quickly, almost 4 weeks early so we never got the chance to try the version and I had a c-section. The second was breech throughout almost my entire pregnancy, and my section was scheduled. Looking back, I am so disappointed I didn’t push to have a version with her, but it really wasn’t offered as an option the second time around. Reading your story made me tear up, and I think I’m convinced that if baby #3 (when the time comes) is breech too (apparently likely, according to my OB), I am going to do whatever I can to get the version! Your birth story was so beautiful and so is Adeline! Love her name, too!


Colleen July 1, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Hi, here via Kelly’s Korner and “version” caught my eye, LOL!! My 3rd baby was breech and we made the decision to turn him at 36 weeks. I was expecting IV sedation, but had no choice and a full on surgical spinal it was (in case “something” happened and we had to rush to surgery). Against the odds (most are unsuccessful and those that are, the baby has high chances of flipping back), Paxton was turned and labor was induced at 41.2 weeks.
Fast forward to baby #4: at our first OB visit, I said “if this one is breech, we are NOT turning it!” My MD laughed and said the chances of another breech are SO low…. HA—Beckett was breech as well! C/S this time. Our own decision, based on complications that Paxton had as a newborn.
Yay to you for a wonderful experience =)


Felicia July 7, 2011 at 12:47 am

I think it is so funny that Angie said she didn’t have a peace about it, because I had the opposite feeling. I followed this on Twitter all day long because I remembered thinking I would be faced with the same thing with Davis. I am so, so thankful that everything worked the way it did! God is so good!


Allyson @ A Heart for Home July 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I also had to have a version, but with our first. We had the procedure at 37 weeks. Thankfully our little girl was small (only 7 lbs even at her birth, 40 weeks 3 days) and the process of turning her only took about 30 seconds with no epidural.

We were so thankful because it gave us the opportunity to have a natural birth. In retrospect the version did get her into a head down position, but it wasn’t perfect. My labor ended up lasting 27 difficult hours with horrible bad pack. Our beautiful Emahry Joy was born semi-posterior and had a fluid sack on her head from rubbing my tailbone. However, she was completely healthy and I’ve since been able to have two other natural births whereas a c-section would have made that more difficult.

We’re expecting our fourth little blessing within the next 4-6 weeks and are praying for another natural labor and healthy baby.


Lilli October 19, 2013 at 2:34 am

Thanks for sharing your story. Yesterday I was 39+1 too and they turned my baby successfully. Your story really helped me :)


jessicaturner October 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I’m SO glad! Congrats!


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Mindy September 13, 2015 at 3:09 pm

I’m having one tomorrow – and your post was so wonderful to read right now!!! May I ask you how long total you were at the hospital? I’m scheduled for seven am but I’m guessing things won’t start until 9?


jessicaturner September 14, 2015 at 4:24 pm

I believe I was there 4 days in total. The version was delayed several hours, then I was induced, then I was in labor for just over a day…


Kirsten July 6, 2016 at 1:56 am

That’s crazy that you got an epidural for your version!! I had mine done about 2 weeks ago and I wasn’t medicated in any way. It was SO painful. This is y first baby and I have a very tight abdomen so when the doctor tried to turn her forward and UNDER MY RIB CAGE I honestly thought my ribs could break. My boyfriend was very supportive though so even though I was in so much pain, I asked her to keep trying even though she asked me if I wanted to quit twice. It also helped that I got tiny 30 second breaks when she checked the baby’s status. She eventually stopped trying to push her head under my ribs and tried a backwards roll which ended up being successful!! I cried with joy and the doctors and my boyfriend all celebrated! Two days later I had a doctors appointment and my doctor said she was really sore the day after and I had felt like I got hit by a truck! But it was so worth it and the pain goes by so quickly.. It almost feels like it never happened!!!


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