Your baby is breeched. Now what?
A breech presentation occurs when the baby is positioned with its buttocks or feet down, rather than its head, which is the optimal position for a vaginal delivery. This can increase the risk of complications during delivery; in some cases, cesarean delivery may be necessary.
Acupuncture can help turn a breech baby by stimulating specific acupuncture points, such as those on the lower back and around the uterus. This stimulation can encourage the baby to move into the head-down position, which is ideal for vaginal delivery.
Many of us likely know someone whose baby has been in breech position as the delivery date drew near. There are several reasons a baby may settle into a breech position, but the cause is not fully understood. Most babies will settle into a head down position within the pelvis moving closer to the birth canal around week 34 to 36 of pregnancy. However, occasionally, the baby may settle into a breech position. This occurs in about 1 out of 25 full-term births.
There are three types of breech positions: full (or flexed) breech, frank, and footling. Women in a frank breech position may be given the option for a natural birth, but in a hospital setting where they may be monitored in case of any complications necessitating a cesarean birth. If the baby is footling or full breech, then a cesarean birth is advised. An ultrasound or an abdominal examination can establish the position of the baby a few weeks prior to the due date.
Knowing that many breech-positioned babies are delivered healthy and happy is important. But there is an increased risk of other complications which can require a cesarean birth. The earlier the baby is found in a breech position, the more likely it is the baby will turn; some will turn on their own. However, if that does not happen, there are many things you can do to help!
Acupuncture to the rescue! Did you know that acupuncture and moxibustion are very effective in helping to turn a breech-positioned baby? Moxibustion is the use of heat therapy; it is very warming, soothing, and when applied to specific points, has many different beneficial effects on the body. The treatment is most effective when used in week 34 but can be effective as late as week 38 or 39. An acupuncturist using the acupuncture point Bladder 67, combined with a ten-day round of moxibustion and weekly acupuncture treatments, can help bring the baby into the correct, optimal position: hands in lap, back to belly, chin to chest, and head down, also known as a well-flexed anterior position. In some instances, the baby can even turn as late as day 9, 10, or 11. During the moxibustion, the baby will become more active. Even if the baby turns, the moxa is continued throughout the duration of the ten days to prevent the baby from turning back to a breech position.
Acupuncture may also help relax the uterus and surrounding muscles, creating more space for the baby to turn. Additionally, acupuncture may help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can contribute to the baby remaining in a breech position.
Other interventions may be used in conjunction with the above treatments to help turn or reposition a breech-positioned baby. A practitioner may place their hands on the mother’s abdomen externally and gently try to turn the baby. The baby is closely monitored during this version. Other helpful methods the mother may do at home include inversion poses to encourage gravity to help turn the baby.
In Chinese medicine, when a baby presents as breech, theory suggests that there is a deficiency in the kidney qi, or energy. This is because the kidney has a strong relationship with the uterus and its ability to nourish the fetus. In order for the baby to turn and be in a proper position for a vaginal birth, the kidney yang must be strong. It is also helpful to encourage foods that are yang in nature and temperature. By including warm and cooked foods, the mother will help to encourage the growth of this yang.
It is also helpful for the mother to focus on positive posture in the final weeks of the pregnancy, keeping the knees lower than the hips. This allows gravity to help assist the baby in moving head down. Mamas in the third trimester are encouraged to sit in a kneeling position with forearms on the floor or against a straight-back chair with knees below the pelvis. It can also be helpful to rock and rotate the pelvis while on all fours and encourage gentle walking throughout the day.
At Gulf Coast Acupuncture and Fertility, we are here to help you feel better. Our office is minutes away from the Pensacola International Airport and is easily accessible from the I-10. Book your appointment today. (850) 331-9991
Kerry Goodwin. Acupuncture for Breech Positioned Babies. Accessed 04/14/2023
Kimberly Thompson. Breech Baby: A Scientific Approach. Acupuncture Today. Accessed 04/14/2023
Jennifer Kelly Geddes. Breech Position: What It Means if Your Baby is Breach. Whattoexpect..com. Medically Reviewed by Shannon Smith, M.D. on Dec. 05, 2022. Accessed 04/14/2023