Notes on turning breech babies



This week I was called by a woman who was 40 weeks pregnant.  I will call her  Mary (not her real name) for the sake of confidentiality.   Not only was she overdue, but her baby was in a crosswise or transverse position.  Her friend, whom I had seen through two pregnancies, had referred her to me.  

Chinese Medicine is a well known treatment for turning breech babies, as well as inducing labor.  This is a very safe treatment that does not involve any kind of direct manipulation or touching of the abdomen or pelvic area.  The acupuncture point used to turn a malpositioned fetus is located on the side of the small toe of each foot at the corner of the nail.  It is called Bladder 67, being located at the end of the Bladder meridian.  You can find this point on any acupuncture chart.   Commonly, moxibustion (a dried herb, artemesia vulgaris) is burned over the point and the baby will often turn.  It is best to do this treatment at no later than 34 weeks as it is most effective when the baby has a lot of room to move around.  This woman’s baby had recently changed from the head down position to transverse so I was fairly confident that we could get her turned back.  Since she had already reached her due date, I was also able to use acupuncture points to induce labor during the same treatment.  This is also a very safe treatment.  Points Colon 4 on the hand and Spleen 6 on the ankle were used.  I did acupuncture to these points while performing indirect moxibustion on her small toe. 

Mary slept through most of her treatment.  The baby had been quite active prior to the treatment, but during it, she became very quiet.  This “quieting” of the baby is very common during acupuncture.  Overly active fetuses are considered “restless” in Chinese Medicine, and there are specific treatments, both with herbs and acupuncture, to nourish and quiet a restless fetus.  This was Mary’s fourth baby and the pregnancy had been uneventful.  Her only problem was that she was slightly anemic and seemed to have an excessive amount of amniotic fluid.  After the treatment, Mary went home, drank the herbal formula I had made for her and rested during the evening.  The herbal formula was to treat Mary’s anemia and build her energy for the onset of labor. 

I saw Mary the next day for a second treatment.  She reported that she had felt better after the treatment and drinking the herbs.  Her baby had moved and seemed to be in a head down position.  I gave her a similar treatment using both acupuncture to induce labor and moxibustion to keep the baby in the head down position.  With previous patients, I had learned that sometimes a baby will turn and then flip back to the breech or transverse position, so it is important to continue the treatments even though the baby seems to be in the correct position.  That was yesterday.  I’m not sure if Mary went into labor or not….I will try to report on her labor in my next post.

About Francine Ball, L.Ac.

I am a licensed acupuncturist practicing in Walnut Creek, California. I have been in private practice since 1984. In my practice I see a wide variety of patients with many types of health problems from late stage cancer to allergies and infertility, and everything in between. The age of my patients range from infants to 96 years old. I have many children and teenage patients. My areas of specialty are internal medicine, infertility and neurology.
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