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Turning Breech Babies: Exploring Acupuncture and Moxibustion Techniques


A woman holding her pregnant stomach

Welcoming a new life into the world is a magical experience, but sometimes, nature throws us a curveball. Around 3-4% of pregnancies result in a breech presentation, where the baby's buttocks or feet are positioned to emerge first instead of the head. While cesarean sections are often recommended for breech births, many parents seek alternatives to encourage their baby to turn into the head-down position for a smoother delivery. Among these alternatives, acupuncture and moxibustion have gained attention for their potential to encourage fetal repositioning. Let's delve into how these ancient practices are believed to aid in turning breech babies.


Understanding Breech Presentation: Before exploring the techniques, it's essential to understand what a breech presentation entails. Typically, towards the end of the third trimester, babies settle into a head-down position in preparation for birth. However, in some cases, they may remain in a breech position, posing potential complications during labor and delivery. While the reasons for breech presentation can vary, factors like premature birth, multiple pregnancies, or abnormalities in the uterus can contribute to this positioning.


Acupuncture: A Holistic Approach to Encouraging Fetal Movement Acupuncture, originating from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow or Qi. When it comes to breech babies, acupuncturists focus on points believed to influence fetal movement and encourage the baby to reposition itself.

The most common acupuncture points targeted for turning breech babies include:

  1. Bladder 67 (Zhiyin): Located on the outer corner of the fifth toenail.

  2. Urinary Bladder 60 (Kunlun): Positioned behind the outer ankle, between the Achilles tendon and the ankle bone.

  3. Urinary Bladder 31 (Shangliao): Found on the lower back, at the midpoint between the dimples above the buttocks.

  4. Gallbladder 21 (Jianjing): Situated at the highest point of the shoulder muscle.

By stimulating these points, acupuncturists aim to encourage relaxation of the uterine muscles and promote optimal positioning for the baby.


Moxibustion: Harnessing the Power of Heat Therapy Moxibustion, another traditional Chinese therapy, involves burning the herb mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) near specific acupuncture points. This technique aims to stimulate these points with heat and encourage the flow of Qi.

In the context of turning breech babies, moxibustion is often applied to the Bladder 67 point on the outer corner of the fifth toenail. By burning a moxa stick near this point, heat is directed towards the acupuncture point, believed to stimulate movement in the uterus and prompt the baby to turn.


Combining Acupuncture and Moxibustion: While acupuncture and moxibustion can be effective independently, many practitioners advocate for a combined approach for optimal results. By incorporating both techniques, practitioners aim to enhance the stimulation of key acupuncture points and increase the likelihood of fetal movement.


Moreover, beyond the physical aspects, these therapies also address the emotional and psychological well-being of expectant parents, providing a sense of empowerment and involvement in the birthing process.


While the journey of pregnancy and childbirth is filled with uncertainties, exploring alternative therapies like acupuncture and moxibustion offers hope and possibilities for expectant parents facing breech presentations. However, it's essential to approach these techniques with caution and under the guidance of trained professionals. Additionally, individual responses to these therapies may vary, and results cannot be guaranteed. Ultimately, the decision to pursue alternative methods for turning breech babies should be made in consultation with healthcare providers, ensuring the safety and well-being of both mother and child.


Kelsey Bru is a licensed acupuncturist and TCM Herbalist in the Comox Valley, British Columbia. She loves working with women's health, hormones, menopause, fertility, mental health, and beyond through her online articles and at her clinic, The Remedy Room, on Cliffe Avenue, Courtenay. Call for an appointment at 250-800-7738.

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