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Capital & Coast DHB Women's Health Obstetrics & Maternity Service

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External Cephalic Version (ECV)

About 3 - 4% of babies will remain in a breech position near term. The term breech means that the baby’s head is up near your ribcage and his or her legs and bottom are situated near your pelvis. Babies who remain in the breech position are at a higher risk of encountering problems during the birthing process, and many will need to be delivered by caesarean section.
One way to try and reduce the number of babies who are in the breech position near term is to turn the baby while he or she is still in the mother’s uterus. This is referred to as ‘external cephalic version’ or ‘ECV’. The likelihood of success for this procedure varies from 36% to 97% depending on the trial being reviewed, but it is recognised that the caesarean section rate will be significantly lower for those women who undergo a successful ECV. Many doctors and midwives offer ECV to women if it is discovered that their baby is presenting by the breech near term and prior to the onset of labour.

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This page was last updated at 4:01PM on February 5, 2020.