Understanding Breech Presentation
Breech presentation is a common abnormality where the baby is misaligned for delivery. There are different varieties of breech presentation but the common theme is that the head is not pointed down. The danger in a breech presentation is that the buttocks or feet can create an unsuitable dilating wedge, causing full delivery to be delayed or impeded, and creating an anoxic environment for the baby. Misalignment is often diagnosed early enough to treat successfully without the need for a cesarean section.
How Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Treat Breech Presentation
Research from China and Europe has shown acupuncture and moxibustion therapy (Chinese herbal treatment consisting of the external warming application of the single herb, mugwort, at acupressure points on the body) to have varying efficacy rates from 60-90%. Treatment has become more popular and more widely documented as women have sought alternatives to surgical interventions. The best time to turn a breech presentation is between the 32-37 weeks of gestation.
Acupuncture protocol is aimed at increasing blood flow to the uterus to help allow for increased fetal mobility while stimulating and balancing the hormones necessary to begin the labor process. Acupuncture treatment can be implemented upon initial diagnosis of misalignment of the fetus, and repeated as needed until the position has been corrected and proper labor has begun.
Chinese herbal treatment consists of moxibustion therapy—the external warming application of the single herb, mugwort, at acupressure points on the body. Research postulates that moxibustion increases adrenocortical stimulation, thereby improving myometrial contractility and sensitivity leading to increased fetal motility. Mugwort treatment has a documented effect on smooth muscles which affect uterine contractility and on raising basal tone to aid in instigating fetal position.
Some other methods, such as pelvic tilt and slant board exercises, may be recommended by your practitioner as well.
How Western Medicine Treats Breech Presentation
Western medicine can offer a non-surgical method. The doctor first checks the position of the baby, the location of the placenta and the amount of amniotic fluid, and then begins to gently push on the lower abdomen to try and turn the baby into the head down position. If unsuccessful, a cesarean section will be performed for safe delivery of the baby.
Research and Related Articles on Breech Presentation
Moxibustion for correction of breech presentation: A randomized controlled trial
JAMA 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1580-4