Acupuncture for a Breech Baby
Every mother dreams of the perfect pregnancy and a complication-free delivery. Unfortunately, sometimes babies have a mind of their own and she finds herself turning a breech baby.
About 3-4% of pregnancies result in a breech baby, where the baby’s head is positioned away from the birth canal. While this is harmless and normal in early pregnancy, a breech position at the time of delivery can cause complications or require interventions like C-sections.
Thankfully, acupuncture offers a safe and non-invasive method that encourages breech babies to turn naturally. Let’s learn more about why you should consider acupuncture and moxibustion if your baby is breech and how Wellnest Denver can help!
What Is Breech Presentation?
A breech presentation occurs when the baby moves out of the optimal birthing position in utero. Ideally, a baby will settle into a head-down or head-first position towards the end of the third trimester of pregnancy. With the baby’s head directed towards the birth canal, the mother is more likely to experience a smooth, safe delivery.
In breech presentation, however, the baby is in a feet-first or side-lying position. Breech position is common in early pregnancy when the baby has plenty of room to move and grow. As we get closer to the due date, however, the position of the baby becomes more critical. Breech births can be difficult, which is why many doctors recommend trying different methods to turn the breech baby. If the baby does not turn, many women opt for a Cesarean section to avoid labor complications.
What Causes Breech Baby?
There is often no particular reason why a baby has settled in a breech position, but there are some situations that make a breech baby more likely:
- Early or premature birth
- There are multiple babies (twins or more)
- There is not enough amniotic fluid
- The uterus has an abnormal shape
Western Treatments for a Breech Baby
Obstetricians have few options for helping mothers turn their babies head-down before birth. The most common Western treatment to turn a breech baby is called external cephalic version (ECV).
During an ECV treatment, the doctor uses an ultrasound to see how the baby is positioned, then uses external pressure to adjust the baby into a head-down position. When successful, this treatment can help women avoid having a Cesarean section. Unfortunately, the treatment itself can be uncomfortable for women and stressful for babies.
Can Acupuncture Turn a Breech Baby?
Thankfully, Eastern medicine offers another option for moms with a breech baby: acupuncture and moxibustion.
Acupuncture and moxibustion have been reported to turn breech babies to the optimal head-down position for centuries. At Wellnest Denver, we’ve used these same ancient techniques to help our patients turn their breech babies naturally and painlessly.
Research on Acupuncture and Moxibustion
Modern research supports the use of acupuncture and moxibustion for a breech baby, too. In one randomized study, a group of women with breech babies were split into two groups: a control group and a treatment group. The treatment group was given acupuncture and moxibustion at a strategic point, BL 67.
Of the women who had acupuncture and moxibustion, 53.6% of the babies were born head-down, compared to only 36.7% of head-down babies in the control group. Researchers concluded that acupuncture and moxibustion for breech babies are effective treatments and “a valid option for women willing to experience a natural birth.”
Another study cited a 75.4% success rate in turning breech babies naturally with acupuncture and moxibustion.
Acupuncture and Moxibustion for a Breech Baby
Acupuncture and moxibustion offer non-invasive and comfortable time-tested treatments that encourage breech babies to move on their own. Let’s see how it works!
How Does Moxibustion Work?
Moxibustion is a traditional method used in Chinese medicine that may even be older than acupuncture itself! Moxibustion involves heating a cotton-like herb called Artemisia vulgaris, or “moxa,” over acupoints or areas of the body. The heat and essential oils of the mugwort plant have a warming, soothing, and restorative effect on the body.
When applied to strategic acupuncture points (with or without acupuncture treatment), moxibustion can help turn a breech baby by encouraging it to move into a head-down position.
What Are the Acupuncture Points to Turn a Breech Baby?
The most common acupuncture point used to turn a breech baby is called Bladder 67. This acupuncture point is located on each foot, at the outer corner of the fifth toenail (the pinkie toe). It is the last point on the long and expansive Urinary Bladder channel.
In addition to this special point, we may stimulate other points along the body with acupuncture or moxibustion to help release stress, relax the uterus, improve energy, and stimulate gentle circulation through the body.
How Do Acupuncture and Moxibustion Turn a Breech Baby?
From a Chinese medicine point of view, these therapies help to boost the mother’s Kidney energy (which is closely related to the uterus and reproductive system) and smooth any stagnation that may be preventing the baby from transitioning into a head-down position.
From a more biomedical perspective, acupuncture and moxibustion work by stimulating specific nerves and receptors in the body. The stimulating heat of moxibustion releases pregnancy hormones such as placental estrogen and prostaglandins that cause slight contractions in the uterus. This subtle movement in the uterus encourages the baby to move into a new position.
Because the points we stimulate (right and left Bladder 67) lie at the very end of the last toe, the baby is drawn downward and finally settles with their head positioned towards the vaginal canal.
How Many Treatments Are Needed to Turn a Breech Baby?
Breech babies have been known to turn after just one or two acupuncture and moxibustion treatments. In other cases, they may need additional treatments. The most common recommendation is to use the treatment once per day for up to 10 days.
When Can I Turn My Breech Baby with Acupuncture and Moxibustion?
The timing “sweet spot” for turning breech babies is between 33-35 weeks. At this time, there is still enough room for the baby to move and adjust position. But, it is possible to turn a baby as late as 38-39 weeks.
Are There Any Risks with Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Breech Baby?
Acupuncture and moxibustion are gentle and safe for both mom and baby when performed by a licensed practitioner. The most common side effects of acupuncture and moxibustion are subtle movements in the uterus (as the baby shifts position) and a feeling of calm relaxation.
Turn Your Breech Baby Naturally at Wellnest Denver
Are you looking for acupuncture for a breech baby in Denver? Wellness Denver Acupuncture offers gentle, trusted holistic care to help you have the safest and most comfortable pregnancy possible.
After learning more about your pregnancy, delivery date, and overall health, we’ll help your baby turn naturally with acupuncture and moxibustion. Then, we’ll equip you with a few at-home techniques to help you progress through the rest of your pregnancy, labor, and postpartum period with ease.