Flippin’ out. Acupuncture for breech babies
“At 37 weeks, my Little One was still in breech position and my OB didn’t want to do an ECV. I wouldn’t have been devastated if I ended up with a caesarean, but obviously I wanted to try avoid it.”
- Jodie (patient, used with permission)
Here's a heads up (catch what I did there?) most babies move into a head down position between 26 and 34 weeks gestation. Mums whose babes don’t turn are at much higher risk of intervention during labour – and are generally encouraged to opt for a planned caesarean.
What does an acupuncturist do for breech babies?
The protocol for turning breech babies is to warm the channel that surrounds the uterus, bu applying heat to an acupuncture point on the little toe. The heat causes movement which supports the baby turning in utero. Acupuncturists use a herb called Ai Ye, (mugwort) which is burned over the point on both sides. Specific points tailored to the patient are also used to support the pregnancy and deal with any other complications or complaints. And yes, it is totally safe, if not a little whiffy.
When should I act?
Most MD’s or OB’s here in Australia won’t suggest taking action on a breech positioned baby until 36 weeks. I can’t reiterate enough the importance of acting sooner rather than later. As Baby gets bigger and fluid within the womb decreases, it can get harder to get Baby flipped upside down. This is mind, if baby is still breech at 31-32 weeks, I suggest getting started on flipping that baby – and this is particularly important for a mother with a history of breech births.
What does the science say?
A 2008 analysis of studies on moxabustion use on breech pregnancies
gives us positive news. When the studies were collated, analysis showed that breech presentations were significantly less likely to result in a breech labour or caesarean when moxabustion was used as an intervention. If you like numbers - caesarean or breech birth occurred in 28% of women in the treatment group, and 56% of women in the non-treatment group.
A final note
There is more you can (and should) do! I am a huge advocate of body work throughout pregnancy. Working with an osteopath can subtly align the pelvis to allow more space for Baby to move. Pregnancy is a time of feminine energy and our intuition and drive to protect that little bud inside is strong – listen to your gut (literally), and if something doesn’t feel right, look for another opinion or option until it does.