Acupuncture For Breech Babies | Paddington Clinic, Acupuncture Brisbane & Natural TherapiesPaddington Clinic

Acupuncture For Breech Babies

8 Jan, 2014 - Acupuncture, Blog


Since the late nineties there has been evidence to suggest that your breech baby can be turned to its optimal position for birth using moxibustion and acupuncture, a Chinese medicine technique.

One of the main techniques used to warm the acupuncture point at the end of your little toe, the last point on your Bladder meridian!

You’d be forgiven for thinking that it all sounds like a bunch of hocus pocus. However, the Chinese have been doing this for women for centuries with great success, and now research is backing up its efficacy with reports of over 80% success rates. Many doctors are even recommending this procedure as research has made its way into many medical journals.

What should baby be doing?

As a pregnancy progresses and the baby continues to grow, available space within the uterus reduces resulting in less room for the baby to move. The baby’s head eventually becomes heavier than its bottom and under normal circumstances around 32 weeks gestation the baby sinks down, head first into the pelvis and engages in preparation for birth.

Between 29-32 weeks 15% of all babies will be in a breech position. This means that the baby is presenting with its buttock, knees or feet pointing down, essentially poised to come out bottom first. Only 3-4% of these presentations will stay in this position until labour.

As such, breech presentation is considered normal in preterm pregnancies and is not generally medically diagnosed until later in pregnancy.

When is breech presentation a problem?

While the majority of breech babies turn spontaneously before birth, the longer a baby stays in the breech position with conditions becoming more cramped, the less likely it will be to turn of its own volition.

Very few obstetricians will attempt a normal vaginal delivery. Standard medical management is a caesarean section. The remedy for this situation is to find an effective way of turning the baby quickly and safely to the physiological desirable head down position.

By the time a woman presents at a Chinese Medicine clinic they are usually at a crossroad. If their baby remains in breech position their freedom of choice around birthing options is dramatically reduced and the time to turn the baby naturally is fast running out.

The technique

home medicineMoxibustion uses a special herb called Mugwort, which has medicinal qualities that help to move energy deeply.  It feels very warm to receive the treatment and the heat at the point is connected to the uterus via meridian pathways, encouraging the baby to move.

The technique involves, among other things, the burning of mugwort to warm an acupuncture point on the outside of the little toe. It is carried out once-twice a day for up to 10 days, until the baby has turned into the optimal position. Many women report the baby beginning to kick and move after a few minutes of treatment. It can take several days of treatment for the baby to turn.

Our acupuncturists often teach the technique to mums or partners so they can do it themselves at home.

When a baby hasn’t turned, the practitioner of Chinese Medicine will seek to address the root cause of the problem, by rebalancing the body’s organs, qi (energy) and blood. When a baby hasn’t turned, all of the pregnant woman’s signs and symptoms are taken into account. For example, a pregnant woman who gets frustrated easily, is moody, gets constipation, has tense muscles, wakes up during the night consistently between one and three in the morning would be considered to have a Liver disharmony. So along with treating her for breech baby, her acupuncturist would use acupuncture points to help calm her Liver, which would help to decrease her feelings of frustration, relax her muscles and improve blood and energy flow. So, along with using moxa to turn a breech baby, she/he will use acupuncture points to help restore balance to the body so it has the best possible chance of giving birth efficiently and naturally to a healthy baby.


When is the optimal time to turn my baby with this technique?

The optimal time to perform this treatment is at 33-36 weeks gestation, but babies have been known to turn in the later weeks, too, when this technique has been used.


Other tips to turn a breech baby:

1. Always pay attention to your posture. Reclining back does not promote good positioning of baby, so spend a lot of time on your hands and knees, or at least lean forward while sitting down.

2. Adopt a knee-to-chest position. Kneel on a bed with your bottom in the air. The aim is to tip your baby back up and out of your pelvis, to give him more room to turn around. Don’t let your thighs press against your bump. Keep your head, shoulders and upper chest flat on your mattress. Maintain this position for 15 minutes every two waking hours, for five consecutive days. In a study of 71 breech babies, 65 turned when their mum adopted the knee-chest position. 

3. Swimming. This keeps your body and pelvis loose, and performing handstands in the water can help encourage the baby to flip.

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