ECV – External Cephalic Version

You might wonder what those words mean! I didn’t know until I was about 36 weeks pregnant in my second pregnancy.

I was referred to the consultant after a routine scan at 34 weeks to check my placenta had moved from it’s low lying position. I’m pleased to say that it had, and just as my husband and I high fived each other, we were told the baby appeared to be moving from the breech position (bottom first) to the transverse position (side lying) and back again. How it had the space I’ll never know.

So at 36 weeks my consultant arranged for me to have an ECV which stands for External Cephalic Version. In plain english, this means they move the baby from the breech or transverse position  into a head down position. The purpose of this movement is to increase your chances of giving birth naturally.

I was apprehensive at first, but felt reassured that my consultant seemed to be a pro at these. I was told to pop into the hospital and I was monitored for about 1 hour before the ECV took place. This was to check the baby’s stats and to ensure after the ECV that the baby wasn’t in any distress.

The consultant then performed the ECV which involved her using her hands to move the baby around from the breech position into the head down position. I didn’t require any medication or relaxants and the experience, whilst it took my breathe away, was not particularly painful. It was strange for my husband to watch as he could see the baby moving right around. I was then monitored again for an hour and after that I was allowed to go home.

At home I felt quite uneasy for a while after, it didn’t help that I had googled ECV in the waiting room and read some horror stories. I felt quite nervous that something would happen to my baby, I don’t like to interfere with nature and I was worried that I had done so. The next day I felt quite sore down the left hand side of my stomach, but a quick call to the midwives who called me in just to check the baby was still in the right position, left me reassured. After that my nervousness went away. We did have one instance where it swung back round and then decided it was happier head down and made its way back there!

Would I recommend an ECV?

Yes, I would. I am very keen to deliver naturally and this increases the chances.

Was it painful?

No, not particularly. I have read and heard that they can be. Whilst it wasn’t comfortable, it also wasn’t as bad as I expected.

Where can I read more?

If you would like more information about an ECV I can really recommend the following links. I found both of these very useful.


NHS – Coventry & Warwickshire


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