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What is external cephalic version?

External cephalic version is a procedure used if your baby is in a breech position (with the buttocks, legs or feet pointing down toward the birth canal) or side-lying position at around 36 to 38 weeks of pregnancy. The procedure moves the baby into a headfirst position and is done manually by manipulating the baby through your abdomen before labor begins to make it possible to have a vaginal birth.

During the procedure, your baby’s heart rate will be monitored to ensure that there is no compression of the umbilical cord.


You may feel some discomfort during this procedure and may be offered a uterine relaxant to help the baby move more easily, which is typically given by injection.

The procedure is performed near the labor and delivery suite, so if your baby’s heart rate goes down from umbilical cord compression, we can deliver the baby quickly by C-section—but this is a rare occurrence.

How to prepare

It is recommended that you should not have a full stomach prior to the procedure.

What to expect after treatment

If you are Rh-negative (where there is a lack of the rhesus protein in your red blood cells), you will need to get a vaccine to stop your immune system from attacking the Rh-positive cells from the baby.

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