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External Cephalic Version ECV

External Cephalic Version ECV:

Most pregnancies, the baby position himself as cephalic with the head down. The baby usually places himself in this position within the last few weeks of the pregnancy right before birth.

  If the baby does not turn down and remains feet down position it’s called, “breech baby.” During labor a C-section will be require. The doctor might try external cephalic version or ECV to try to turn the baby around.

What Is And External Cephalic Version ECV?

External cephalic version ECV is a process by which a breech baby can sometimes be turned. The procedure is usually performed by the 37th week.  The medical procedure is to try to turn your baby into a proper head down position from a breech position.

ECV Procedure:
Turning A Breech  Baby

The main reason for the procedure of the  external cephalic version ECV is to give the mother an opportunity to have a natural birth.  If you’re going to have the ECV procedure the doctor will prescribed some tocolytic medication. The medication helps the uterine muscles relax and prevents any contractions during the process.  

The external cephalic version it’s a procedure where the doctor places his hands on the baby head and below his buttocks to push the baby to see if he will rotate.  At times the procedure does work after trying numerous times.

During the procedure, the baby’s heart rate is observed at all time.  If the baby has any type of distress the procedure is completely stopped. To avoid any major complications the amniotic fluid level is measured.

When Is An ECV Attempted?

There is no ideal gestational age for attempting an ECV. Many doctors will practice the procedure to shrink the chances of breech baby at birth. The process is performed around or after week 37.

Does An External Cephalic Verson Hurt?

Many women can tolerate the procedure since it’s a short duration. They might feel a bit of discomfort and moderate pain.  A small percentage of women report severe pain during the attempt of an ECV.

When Is External Cephalic Version Avoided

In order to look at risks, the doctor will check your medical history.  Here are the most common factors that doctors will stray away from attempting the procedure:

  • High blood pressure or preeclampsia
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abnormally shaped uterus
  • Abruption placenta
  • Fetal distress
  • Having twins
  • Low levels of amniotic fluid

Are There Any Risks of An External Cephalic Version (ECV)?

ECV is considered a safe procedure with some rare situations having some complications.

Maternal Complications

Before attempting an ECV you need to consider these complications.

  • Placental abruption
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Uterine rupture
  • Labor

Fetal Complications

After turning a breech baby studies have proven no risk of fetal death.  The procedure is usually done at the hospital and the baby is consistently monitored at all times. ECV might sometimes lead to the following complications:

  • Changes in the baby’s heartbeat
  • Reduced oxygen and blood flow from the umbilical cord
  • Nuchal cord
  • Fetomaternal hemorrhage
  • Emergency c-section

External Cephalic Version Success Rate

ECV has about a 58 percent success rate in turning breech babies. ECV usually works better if it’s your first pregnancy. The purpose of doing the ECV is for the mother to reduce the changes of having a vaginal breech delivery and have a normal birth.

Factors Contributing To A Better Chance of Success

  • Second pregnancy
  • The baby is positioned high up in the uterus
  • Amniotic fluid levels
  • Normal weight gain
  • Posterior placenta

When To Call The Doctor

Here are some of the most common signs to watch for after an ECV:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Less movement of the baby
  • Abdominal pain
  • Contractions
  • Temperature over 102 F

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