A breech baby is a condition that would make it difficult for you to give birth naturally because the baby is positioned feet or bottom first in the uterus. Most medical doctors can’t place an accurate cause of this condition, but in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a pregnancy is mostly breech because of qi stagnation as a result of stress or depression. To turn the baby to the normal position so that you can give birth naturally, TCM uses moxibustion and acupressure points for breech baby to adjust the excess or deficiency of Qi.
What Is Breech Baby?
A breech baby, also known as breech birth, is a situation where your baby’s feet or buttocks are facing downwards in the uterus by the 36th week of pregnancy rather than the head. It is not strange for a baby to be positioned this way earlier in the pregnancy, but whereby towards the end of the pregnancy, from the seventh to ninth month, the baby’s feet or bottom is still facing downward, then you have a breech baby.
There are four kinds of breech birth that will require acupuncture to turn the breech baby. They are:
- Frank Breech: This is when the baby has his buttocks positioned downward in the vaginal canal, and its feet placed upwards beside its head.
- Complete breech: This is the type of breech birth whereby the baby’s buttocks are facing downwards, and its legs are folded underneath.
- Footling Breech: This is when the baby’s buttocks are still facing downwards, but one foot is stuck out and would be delivered first before any other part of its body.
- Transverse Position: This is a different position entirely, whereby the baby is lying horizontally in the uterus rather than vertically.
What Are The Causes Of Breech Baby?
In modern medicine, breech pregnancies can be a result of any of the following:
- The woman having several pregnancies
- The pregnancy being that of more than one child
- The woman having a premature birth in the past
- The woman’s uterus has either too much or too little amniotic fluid. This is the fluid that surrounds the baby in the womb and assists in their movement.
- The woman having an abnormally shaped uterus or complications like fibroids.
In TCM, however, a baby can be breech based on any of the following:
- Qi and Blood Deficiency: Here, the woman’s qi and blood are depleted because she has a weak qi. This then affects the uterus and may cause misconception. Symptoms of this cause of breech babies include low energy, pale complexion, and weak limbs.
- Air Stagnation: This is usually due to a deficient liver qi caused by emotional stress or depression. The woman’s qi and blood can also get stagnated due to cold or her uterus is too large that it blocks qi. Here, the symptoms the woman experiences include a feeling of movement in the chest, a bloated stomach, and depression.
- Blood Stagnation: In this case, qi is obstructed because blood and moisture are stagnant. This makes the stomach swell and hurt, and the woman pees less. Her legs may also swell as a result of the inability to pass out enough urine.
Whichever the cause of breech baby, the acupressure points for breech baby discussed in this article will help you turn your baby for safe vaginal delivery.
Can Acupuncture Help Breech Baby?
Yes, acupuncture is in fact, the most trusted way to turn a breech baby to deliver normally. Aside from it being proven over the years by acupuncturists, scientific evidence exists to prove acupuncture and breach babies. One such piece of evidence is a 2004 controlled study that was conducted on 226 women within 33 to 35 weeks of their pregnancy to confirm the efficacy of moxibustion and acupuncture in resolving breech delivery.
The study placed the women in two groups – the group for active treatment and the group for observation. The active treatment group received acupuncture plus moxibustion at acupoint BL67. The aim of the study was to see if, at delivery, the babies would be at a cephalic position, which is the normal, head-down position of the baby. The result of the study showed that the observation group had a lesser proportion of cephalic presentation on delivery (36.7%) than the active treatment group (53.6%). This goes to show that combined acupuncture and moxibustion are better in resolving fetal presentation than observation.
More recent research conducted in 2012 confirmed this by finding enough evidence to prove that acupuncture combined with moxibustion has a greater chance of leading to fewer births by cesarean section for breech presentation than by moxibustion alone or external cephalic version (ECV) alone.
Can Acupuncture Turn A Breech Baby At 37 Weeks?
It is difficult for acupuncture to turn a breech baby at 37 weeks because that is about the time the woman is due for delivery. In modern medicine, you can’t say a baby is breech until the pregnancy is 35 or 36 weeks old. Before this time, if the baby is in a transverse or breach position, it is normal because there is a good possibility of the baby turning head down on its own. At 35 weeks, the baby would have grown bigger and run out of room space to turn to the optimal position.
In TCM, however, a baby is said to be breech if it hasn’t gotten to the head-down position by 28 weeks. So, it is advised to start acupuncture to flip the breech baby between the 28th and 32nd week of pregnancy. Once it gets to 36 weeks, the cesarean section is your safest option.
Is Acupuncture Good For Pregnancy?
Yes, acupuncture is good for pregnancy. Acupuncture packs a lot of benefits for pregnant women, including warming the womb, improving blood flow, and helping the baby turn. The best part of it is that it is safe. A 2014 study that sought to identify the Adverse Events (AEs) associated with acupuncture treatment during pregnancy identified 1.9% of AE incidents in an analysis of 105 studies. Only 25 of these studies reported AEs, and these AEs were unlikely to have been caused by acupuncture. Another research upholds the assertion by oriental medicine practitioners that acupuncture can serve as pain relief during delivery. However, there are certain acupuncture points to avoid during pregnancy.
Acupressure Points For Breech Baby
Now that you fully understand what breech presentation is and how acupuncture is useful for this condition let’s dive right into the acupressure points for turning a breech baby.
Acupoint: Bl-67 (Other Names: Urinary Bladder-67/Zhi Yin/Reaching Yin)
The first acupressure breech baby point that you should know about is Bl-67. This Urinary Bladder meridian acupoint is called Zhiyin, which means Reaching Yin in English, and it is located on the foot. You’ll find it at the edge of the bottom corner of the nail of the little toe.
The function of Bl-67 is to improve blood flow and assist your baby in moving easily in the womb. In addition to this, Bl-67 also eliminates wind and helps to clear your head. All this is possible because BL-67 is located at a point where the urinary bladder and kidney meridian intersect.
Clinically, in addition to turning breech baby, Bl-67 is also one of the acupressure points to start labor as well as treat headaches, eye aches, and nasal congestion.
Acupoint: SP-6 (Other Names: Spleen-6/San Yin Jiao/Three Yin Intersection)
SP-6 is the next of the acupressure points for breech babies that you should stimulate to help your baby turn. Known as Sanyinjiao, this spleen meridian acupoint is located on the leg. You’ll find it four finger-width above the inner ankle, in the hollow part of the tibia.
The function of SP-6 is to relieve the pregnant woman of coldness and assist the baby in turning on its own. SP-6 happens to be at the intersection of the spleen, kidney, and liver meridian, hence the name Three Yin Intersection. Therefore, it helps to strengthen the spleen and stomach, resolve dampness, strengthen the kidney, and treat medical conditions that involve the three organs.
Clinically, you can use SP-6 to stop irregular menstruation and treat enuresis, prolapse of the uterus, skin diseases, dizziness, and headaches. It also serves as acupuncture for swollen ankles.
Acupoint: Liv-3 (Other Names: Liver-3/Tai Chong/Supreme Rush)
Liv-3 is the last acupressure point for breech babies that you should know. Known as Taichong in Chinese, this liver meridian acupuncture point is also located on the foot. You can find it by tracing your finger up the junction of the big toe and second toe to the top of the slope. The depression before the top of the slope is Liv-3.
The main function of Liv-3 is to improve the liver. By doing so, qi and blood flow are improved, and the mind relaxes. In addition to this, Liv-3 also helps to regulate menstruation as well as serves as acupressure for back inflammation.
Medical conditions like headaches, vertigo, wry face, depression, hiccup, and abdominal distention can be easily treated with Liv-3.
Pregnancies with the baby in a breech position during the early period are normal. However, if the baby continues to remain in this position past the 28th month, it is best to start using the acupressure points to turn breech baby. The aupoints to push include:
- Bl-67 to promote blood flow and aid the easy movement of the baby in the womb;
- SP-6 to relieve coldness and assist the baby in turning on its own; and
- Liv-3 to improve qi and blood flow and relax your mind.