Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Breech Positions

Moving Your Baby into the Perfect Position

By Paul J.O'Brien
B.A., N.C.E.H.S., Dip. Acu., Adv. Dip. OBB, Cert Clin. Med. M.AFPA, M.ETCMA, M.C.Th.A.

Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Breech Positions is one of the most pleasingly effective treatments in Chinese Medicine. I say this because it is simple (a single point in most cases), effective and fast acting. Before I explain the TCM understanding and treatment options for a breech position baby, let’s look at the Western Medical viewpoint.

Between the 34th and 36th week of the pregnancy the baby should settle into the correct position. This is called a “well-flexed anterior position” and in this position the baby should be low in the pelvis, its chin tucked into the chest and its spine facing the mother’s abdomen.

However things aren’t always so straight forward and often times we get what is called a breech position. There are a few of these and each has an effect on the baby’s health and what intervention may be necessary, including of course Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Breech Positions.

The first and least serious is similar to the ideal position, the “well-flexed anterior”, except the baby can turn slightly to face the left (Left Occipital Anterior) or the right, (Right Occipital Anterior). Of these two the LOA is considered the best position and both are considered fine for birth. You can go into labour without any additional treatment in these positions, though Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Breech Positions can be useful to turn the baby into the “well-flexed anterior position”.

3 Imperfect Positions

The remaining positions are deemed malposition’s, malpresentation or breech positions; essentially they aren’t optimal for giving birth and require further intervention.

In the case of malposotions, the baby will have its head, or part of the head, in the pelvic cavity, however, it may be facing posterior (the baby’s spine facing the mothers spine – the opposite of the ideal anterior position), or the baby’s head may be deflexed, in other words, rather than having the chin tucked nicely into the chest the baby’s head is hyperflexed and stretching backwards.

In the first instance of malposition, a posterior presentation, you can as in the anterior have the baby’s head facing both left and right, creating a Left Occipital Posterior or a Right Occipital Posterior position. These complicate labour and contribute to longer labour, dilation time and increased pain. This is primarily because the force of pressure is not aimed at the cervix and the baby’s spine is pressing into the mothers. This is diagnosed fairly early on by palpitation and can be easily treated with Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Breech Positions.

In the second instance of malposition the baby’s head is hyperflexed and this can occur in both the anterior and posterior positions we’ve already talked about. Unfortunately this can’t be detected until during labour. This presentation can prolong labout as the head isn’t placing pressure on the cervix and can hold up the first stage of labour. Usually medical intervention is needed.

In malpresentation the crown of the baby’s head is not in the pelvic cavity, and often another body part such as a face, brow or shoulder could be angled into the pelvic. Each of these carries concern for the safe delivery of the baby. A face and brow presentation will become obvious on vaginal examination prior to labour and there is a risk that the cord can become pressed and the head even get stuck. In a shoulder presentation the baby is lying sideways on and a vaginal delivery is out of the question as it may rupture the uterus, a life threatening situation. Unless the baby can be turned a cesarean delivery will be necessary.

A complete rotation of the baby with its head facing upwards, and bottom facing downwards is a breech presentation which we’ll look at now and Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Breech Positions is really good at treating these occurrences.

Breech Positions

Within a breech position there are 3 presentations; Full (flexed) breech, Frank (extended) breech and a Footling breech. The full breech is defined as the baby sitting cross-legged, in the pelvic cavity just above the cervix. In the Frank breech the baby is in the same position, bum facing the cervix, except this time the legs are extended upwards, with the toes pressing against the baby’s head. Finally a footling breech is where one or more feet are situated directly over the cervix.

Any breech presentation can produce complications during delivery. These can include compression or prolapsed of the cord which can lead to a cut off of oxygen to the baby and intracranial hemorrhage. This is an internal bleed in the baby’s head caused by the rapid compression due to its position. These are all extremely serious and require a caesarian; though in the case of a footling presentation a trial labour may be considered. In this case a natural vaginal delivery is attempted moving to cesarean as a second option.

Western Treatment

Unlike Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Breech Positions which is very subtle, western medicine approaches breech and posterior positions through more direct methods. In the case of posterior presentation, specific exercises may be given to use gravity in rotating the baby. However in the more extreme presentations discussed here, physical external manipulation is often performed. This is done only be very highly trained professionals who are prepared to perform an on the spot caesarian and involves physically turning the baby using gentle pressure. This is still a dangerous procedure as it carries with it the risk of compressing the cord.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Diagnosis and Treatment

By contrast the Traditional Chinese Medical understanding of Breech and posterior presentations is more refined and far easier and subtle in its treatment. Ultimately its seen as a weakness of the Kidney energy. (According to Chinese medicine the Kidneys “hold and grip”, included in this is the correct position of the baby). A differential diagnosis of the different positions isn’t needed either – if there’s any type of posterior or breech presentation it’s a weakness of the Kidney. The treatment for which is surprising, easy and very pleasant.

For more patients it only requires a single 20 minute session, and in it involves using moxa, a warming herb to heat around the area of the little toe on both feet. One this is done I generally teach patients how to do it themselves and they continue to do that for 10 days. This would be one complete course of treatment. It has a 75.4% success rate according to a recent Italian study and 81% success rate according to a Chinese study. Every time I've done it, it's worked so far and it’s amazing to see the baby move in real time. Ideally it's best to start Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Breech Positions treatment around week 34.

If you are pregnant and are concerned with labour and the position of the baby, I strongly encourage you to consider Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Breech Positions treatments, to esure the baby is in the ideal position for a natural, efficient birth.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Acupuncture for Pregnancy and Breech Positions treatment protocols that I provide or wish to start a course of treatment then please feel free to contact me or make an appointment where we can discuss any specific concerns or questions you may have.

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