External Cephalic Version

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What is external cephalic version?

Not all babies naturally turn into the right position for delivery. In these cases, and external cephalic version may be necessary. this prodecure changes the a baby’s position in the uterus by manipulating the mother’s abdomen. If the baby is moved to a headfirst position, you may avoid having a vaginal breech delivery or cesarean section.

When is it used?

External cephalic version may be done when your baby is in the breech position near your due date, but not before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Your health care provider may diagnose a breech position by feeling your abdomen and locating the baby’s head and bottom. You may also have an ultrasound to check the baby’s position.

What are the risks associated with this procedure?

This procedure is generally considered safe, but as with any procedure there are risks. You should discuss these risks with your healthcare provider prior to undergoing the procedure. Some of the potential complications of this procedure include:

  • Premature labor in about 1% of mothers.
  • Premature rupture of the membranes in about 1% of mothers a small amount of blood loss from you and the baby.
  • The bag of water around the baby could rupture.
  • Fetal distress could occur.
  • The need for an emergency cesarean section because the baby is not getting enough oxygen, usually because of a pinched umbilical cord.
  • Damage to the placenta, possibly causing separation of part or all of it.
  • The likelihood of these complications is small. However, any of these problems can be very serious.

What happens after the procedure?

After the procedure a non-stress test is done again to check the baby’s well-being. If the procedure is unsuccessful, your doctor will discuss the risks and merits of vaginal delivery compared with cesarean section in your particular case. Even if the procedure is successful, the baby could return to the breech position before you begin labor.

When should I call Greenville OB/GYN

Call the doctor during regular office hours if:

  • You have questions about the procedure or its result.
  • You want to make another appointment.


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