External Cephalic Version (ECV)

Delivery Obstetrics 

What is ECV ?

ECV (External Cephalic Version) means turning the baby from a breech position to a head first position.

What are the implications of having a Breech delivery ?

About 4% of pregnancies are breech at term. Each pregnant lady will be counselled about the options for delivery. The aim is to select the safest mode of delivery, which will depend on individual factors such as the size of the baby, the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis and the way the baby’s legs are positioned.

What is the point of ECV ?

The aim is to turn the bay so that you can have a head first delivery and so avoid the difficult decisions about breech delivery. About 50% of babies can be successfully turned, although the occasional baby turns back to a breech.

What happens at ECV ?

On the day of ECV, you will come to the hospital fasted. A drip is put in your arm and a small injection of a drug to relax the womb is given as this may make it easier to turn the baby. The procedure may be uncomfortable, but not painful (and will be stopped if it is painful). The baby’s heartbeat will be monitored before and after the ECV, You will be in hospital for around 2 to 3 hours.

What are the risks of ECV ?

The risks of ECV are very small. Very occasionally, the baby can become distressed, and if this persists an immediate caesarean section is done (less than 1% of cases). Other complications such as vaginal spotting or ruptured membranes can occur.

What if the ECV does not work ?

We will discuss the best way to deliver the baby if the ECV fails.

I consider the risks of doing an ECV less than leaving the baby in a breech position.

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