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External Cephalic Version

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

What do I need to know about external cephalic version?

External cephalic version is a procedure used to move your baby into a headfirst position in your womb. This is usually done at around week 37 of pregnancy. A rear-first or feet-first position is called a breech position. This position can cause problems for the baby during pregnancy or delivery. Examples include a hip dislocation and nerve or brain injury. Babies in a breech position may need to be delivered by cesarean section (C-section). External cephalic version may help prevent problems during delivery.

What will happen before an external cephalic version?

What will happen during an external cephalic version?

Gentle pressure will be used to prevent problems for you or your baby. An ultrasound or other test will be used several times during the procedure to check your baby's heart rate.

What will happen after an external cephalic version?

What are the risks of external cephalic version?

You may feel some pain or discomfort during the procedure. You may also have nausea, and you may vomit. This procedure may cause labor to start, or cause premature rupture of the membranes (PROM). PROM means fluid leaks from your amniotic sac before labor begins. The placenta may pull away from the uterus, called abruption. You or your baby may also lose blood. Your baby's heart rate may become too slow. Your baby may turn back into a breech position even after a successful external cephalic version. During delivery, your baby may have a dislocated hip. His or her shoulder may get stuck in the birth canal (called shoulder dystocia). You may need to have a C-section to deliver your baby if he or she is in distress.

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Further information

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