Turning the Baby

If your baby is breech, and you are in or past your 36th week of pregnancy, your care provider may try to turn the baby around in your uterus. This technique is called external cephalic version (sometimes known as ECV). The version procedure moves your baby into a head-down position, allowing you to labour and deliver normally.

Your care provider will press his or her hands on your abdomen and shift the baby around using pushing or lifting movements. You may be given medication to relax the uterus and/or a local anesthetic to make the procedure more comfortable for you.

Benefits of version

  • Overall, version is considered a very safe procedure.
  • If the version procedure successfully moves your baby into a head-down position, your chances of delivering vaginally become about the same as any woman whose baby is normally positioned for birth. This will help you avoid a cesarean birth.

Risks of version

In the hands of an experienced maternity care provider, version is successful up to 50% of the time. Risks include:

  • It’s not always possible to move the baby into the correct position.
  • Infrequently, after a version procedure, the baby will shift back into a breech position.
  • Repeat attempts at version become more difficult as baby grows.
  • Very rarely, version may cause problems with the baby’s heart rate or lead to early labour.