“Measure twice, cut once.”

Does anybody else remember hearing that — whether someone cutting fabric to make a dress, or cutting a piece of wood for some construction project?

It’s a short motto that serves as an excellent reminder that some things can’t be undone, so diligent care should be taken to make sure that this “thing” is necessary and right. I recently read a birth story which reminded me of it.

At 37 weeks, the woman had an ultrasound that showed her baby was in the breech position, so her doctor scheduled a C-section at 39 weeks. The story was told from the L&D nurse’s perspective, and she suggested just prior to the surgery that the woman be given an ultrasound to verify that the baby was still breech. The attending physician said he didn’t think it was necessary — he had palpated the woman’s abdomen the day before in his office, and decided that the baby was still breech.

Imagine everyone’s surprise when the baby was actually head-down when it was cut out of the mother’s womb. Of course, by the time it was discovered, it was too late — the mom had had an unnecessarean.

Had the attending physician merely followed the nurse’s suggestion to do a quick ultrasound just to make sure, the woman would have been spared the surgery. Measure twice, cut once — or maybe, not cut at all!

This also reminds me of the many C-sections that are done because “the baby is too big,” and when the baby is born, it is not big at all. Perhaps, prior to getting a C-section due to macrosomia, you should get a second opinion — ultrasounds can easily be off by a pound or more. A couple of years ago, I read of a hospital that cut its C-section rate in half by doing a few different things, including requiring a second opinion before giving a woman a C-section.

C-sections are major abdominal surgery, so it makes sense to get a second opinion (measure twice) before getting cut.



4 Responses

  1. My “other” comment – find an alternative practitioner to attend at home, and if that didn’t pan out, go unassisted!!

  2. Ahhh, you have written about my birth Achilles heel. My Achilles womb. Personally, I would give strong consideration to a surgical delivery in the case of breech presentation after labor has begun and if baby just doesn’t seem to be flipping. This is because a) there is only one doctor in the entire metropolitan area in which I live that “specializes” in breech deliveries and b) because I have a history of very large babies. I would do a lot of research before considering delivering what might very well be another 11.5 pound baby (with a 15.5 inch head circ) if he or she were in breech presentation.

    I’ve never discussed this with my midwife. I’m also not planning any more babies, so it doesn’t weigh on my mind at all. It’s my hypothetical risk analysis.

    I have been enjoying your posts of late, Kathy. You’ve been touching on many powerful topics and referencing great articles.

  3. I myself am also conflicted, and would approach the decision with much thought and prayer. I know that most babies will do just fine being born breech, but I also know that there are some definite risk factors that make C-section a better idea. My younger son was just over 9 lb, so if the weight was less than that, I’d be comfortable with breech, but I would want to have an ultrasound to make sure his chin was tucked down. I’ve heard some “breech horror stories” but also many wonderful breech birth stories — unassisted, midwife-attended and in-hospital.

    There is no single right or wrong answer here, which is why it’s an “opinion poll.” 🙂 I include the poll questions because 1) I *like* the new poll feature! & 2) I’m curious as to my readers’ thoughts on subjects I touch on — their opinions, what they would do, or what they did do. I’m curious by nature (curious as a Kat!), and I enjoy hearing about different aspects of what everyone thinks. To be perfectly honest, I’m tempted to go back to the posts I wrote before the poll feature was available, and add polls to all of those posts, because I’m so curious. 🙂

  4. I would first try to find a midwife who was skilled in it and do it. I also would probably be willing to travel to a different area to find a doctor skilled in it.

    I think that they should have hospitals that still teach breech births and that can be an option for moms. Though I would prefer a midwife who was hands off trained.

    I choose go to the hospital and refuse cesarean, though that would make me nervous, because if the OB isn’t comfortable and doesn’t know what to do that could lead to problems. So I may just wait until labor and then see if baby turned… or even wait and see if baby turns during labor.

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