Can Acupuncture Resolve Breech Presentation?

Breech presentation refers to malposition of the unborn fetus.  Normally, toward the end of pregnancy, the baby turns so that it is oriented head-down toward the cervix prior to delivery.  A baby that is breech will typically present with either their buttocks down toward the birth canal or with one or both feet down.  Common causes are cases of premature delivery, subsequent pregnancies, abnormal amniotic fluid levels (too much or too little) or multiple births-such as twins.

The most common medical solution is to deliver the baby or babies by cesarean (C-section).  However, there are options prior to delivery that may enhance your chances of turning the baby to the proper position in time.
One intervention that has come back into favor in recent years is the use of a technique called external cephalic version.  Simply put, the doctor, usually an OB-GYN, will manually attempt to turn the baby by applying pressure with their hands on the expectant mother's abdomen and turning the baby to the proper position. This technique has good success rates and is relatively comfortable for the mother however, it is not without risk.  It is important that the practitioner be as gentle as possible when performing the maneuver.

Another option is the use of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to turn breech babies and in many cases has been very successful.  Some practitioners will incorporate an herbal medicine called moxibustion with acupuncture treatment.  There are a growing number of people supporting the use of this option for treatment of breech presentation.  Acupuncture treatment is extremely safe and should be considered as an option to aid in turning a breech baby.

How does acupuncture turn a breech baby?  There is a specific point on the fifth toe that is believed to increase fetal movement and encourage the malpositioned fetus to turn to it's correct position to prepare for delivery.  The use of this method has sparked the interest of the medical community in recent years.  Literature reviews and randomized controlled trials are concluding that additional research is warranted to further investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture for breech presentation and that use of this ancient healing art is a viable option for expectant mothers.  A randomized controlled study conducted by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Turin, Italy concluded that Acupuncture and moxibustion is "more effective than observation in revolving fetuses in breech presentation. Such a method appears to be a valid option for women willing to experience a natural birth."
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