Determinants of pain perception after external cephalic version in pregnant women

Sophie E. M. Truijens, Marieke van der Zalm, Victor J. M. Pop, S.M. Kuppens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


A considerable proportion of pregnant women with a fetus in breech position refuses external cephalic version (ECV), with fear of pain as important barrier. As a consequence, they are at high risk for caesarean section at term. The current study investigated determinants of pain perception during ECV, with special attention to maternal mental state such as depression and fear of ECV.
Prospective study of 249 third-trimester pregnant women with breech position with a request for an ECV attempt.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in a large teaching hospital in the Netherlands.
Prior to the ECV attempts, obstetric factors were registered, participants fulfilled the Edinburgh Depression Scale (EDS) and reported fear of ECV on a 10-point visual analog scale. Perception of pain intensity was measured with a 10-point visual analog scale, immediately after ECV.
Multivariate linear regression analyses showed success of ECV to be the strongest predictor of pain perception. Furthermore, scores on the depression questionnaire and degree of fear of ECV independently explained pain perception, which was not the case for obstetrical or ECV related factors.
Apart from ECV outcome, psychological factors like depression and fear of ECV were independently related to pain perception of an ECV attempt.
Implication for practice
Maternal mood state should be taken into account when offering an ECV attempt to women with a fetus in breech position. Due to the painful experience and the importance of successful outcome, ECV should only be attempted in institutions with experienced practitioners and with careful attention to maternal mood and the way a woman is coping with the ECV attempt.
Keywords: Externalcephalic version, Breech presentation, Pain perception
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E102-E107
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Externalcephalic version
  • Breech presentation
  • Pain perception


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