Being told by your OB/GYN or midwife that your baby isn’t in the optimal position for a vaginal delivery isn’t exactly the conversation you'd like to hear. Towards the end of pregnancy most babies will rotate into a head down position to prepare for birth. The anterior head down position, which is the optimal positioning for labor, typically occurs by the 34th week of pregnancy. However, approximately 3-4% of babies are in the bottom down or breech presentation at the end of pregnancy. Given the limited options of childbirth with a breech baby, the majority of these moms will wind up with a cesarean section (c-section).
The use of acupuncture with moxibustion is a safe and effective option for turning breech babies. Treatments are most successful between 32-35 weeks gestation as there is more room in the uterus for the baby to reposition. Beyond week 35, the chances of the baby turning decrease due to the lack of space, but it is still possible as many breech babies have turned in the final weeks of pregnancy or even just before delivery. Expectant moms are encouraged to begin treatment for shortly after they find out their baby is breech to increase their chance of success.
Although part of the therapy occurs in office with the acupuncture treatments, the second part of the treatment occurs at home. Moxabustion (aka moxa) is the use of a chinese herb called mugwort that is burned over specific points on the body. When it comes to flipping breech babes, moms will be sent home with moxa sticks to burn over an acupuncture point on the corner of the little toe for 20 min per day (10 minutes twice a day) for 10 days. This along with acupuncture sessions can help encourage the little one to rotate into a head down position to allow for a vaginal delivery.
In addition to acupuncture and moxa, there are some other things that you can try to help flip a breech position baby:
In addition to the recommendations above, I encourage all pregnant mamas to begin acupuncture treatments starting at week 36. Prenatal acupuncture in the last trimester can reduce the need for medical interventions such as epidurals and emergency c-sections.
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