Everything you Need to Know about External Cephalic Version (ECV)

ECV or External Cephalic Version is a process which is used to turn a fetus from a breech position or a side lying position to a head down or vertex position before labor starts. When done successfully, this version makes it possible to try a vaginal birth.

ECV is usually done before the labor begins and this is around 37 weeks. This procedure is used during labor before the amniotic sac has been ruptured. To know more about External Cephalic Version, you can go through the following given information.

know about external cephalic version

Process Followed

Before the attempt to do this procedure, you will be given an injection to relax the uterus and in order to avoid or prevent uterine contractions.  This injection consists of tocolytic medicine or terbutaline.  When the uterus is relaxed, the doctor will try and turn the fetus.

One of the doctor’s hands will be on the head of the fetus and the other hand will be on the buttocks.  Now the doctor will try to push and roll the fetus so that he can come to a head down position.  During this stage, you may feel a certain discomfort and this will especially happen in the case when uterus will contract.

If the first attempt of this procedure is not successful, the doctor will try to aim for another attempt and this time possibly with the help of epidural anesthesia so that the amount of pain felt can be reduced and you feel more relaxed.  There are very few chances of any serious complications due to this procedure. This procedure is done in the hospital so that care can be taken if by chance any rare complication takes place.

Risks Involved

There can be certain risks involved with ECV and some of them have been given as follows:

  • Squeezing or twisting of the umbilical cord may take place and this is one of the risks involved.
  • Another risk involved with ECV is reduction in the blood flow and oxygen to the fetus when the procedure is being attempted.
  • The starting of labor is yet another complication or risk factor involved with this process. This can be caused by the rupture of the amniotic sac around the fetus.
  • Some of the other risks involved include damage to umbilical cord, rupture of uterus and placenta abruptio.

Who Should not go for ECV?

  • This process must not be done in the case when the mother’s uterus does not have a normal shape or the mother is pregnant with multiples.
  • This will also not be done if the bag of waters has been ruptured.
  • ECV cannot be done if the mother has a medical condition such as a heart condition which prevents her from taking medicines needed to prevent contractions.
  • In the case when a caesarean delivery is needed, even in that case this process cannot be attempted.
  • ECV cannot be done if the fetus inside her may not be doing well.


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