Cephalic version by postural management for breech presentation

Cochrane Review by Hofmeyr GJ, Kulier R

This record should be cited as: Hofmeyr GJ, Kulier R. Cephalic version by postural management for breech presentation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2000, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD000051. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000051.



Cephalic version by postural management for breech presentation


Babies with breech presentation (bottom first) are at increased risk of complications during birth, and are often delivered by caesarean section. The chance of breech presentation persisting at the time of delivery, and the risk of caesarean section, can be reduced by external cephalic version (ECV - turning the baby by manual manipulation through the mother’s abdomen). It is also possible that maternal posture may influence fetal position. Many postural techniques have been used to promote cephalic version.


The objective of this review was to assess the effects of postural management of breech presentation on measures of pregnancy outcome. We evaluated procedures in which themother rests with her pelvis elevated. These include the knee-chest position, and a supine position with the pelvis elevated with a wedge-shaped cushion.

Search strategy

We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (10 September 2010).

Selection criteria

Randomised and quasi-randomised trials comparing postural management with pelvic elevation for breech presentation, with a control group.

Data collection and analysis

One or both review authors assessed eligibility and trial quality.

Main results

We have included six studies involving a total of 417 women. The rates for non-cephalic births, Cesarean section and Apgar scores below 7 at one minute, regardless of whether ECV was attempted or not, were similar between the intervention and control groups (risk ratio (RR) 0.98; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.84 to 1.15; RR 1.10; 95% CI 0.89 to 1.37; RR 0.88; 95% CI 0.50 to 1.55).

Authors' conclusions

There is insufficient evidence from well-controlled trials to support the use of postural management for breech presentation. The numbers of women studied to date remain relatively small. Further research is needed.