With an all time high rate of 32.8% for cesarian birth in our country, Acupuncture has recently gained popularity as a method of turning a breech baby or inducing labor naturally. This article seeks to demystify this ancient approach as I have seen it work time and time again. Traditionally, the point named Zhi Yin or UB-67, located on the lateral side of the pinky toe is used to turn a baby in breech presentation. Zhi Yin translates to “Reaching Yin.” For those of you with some working knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine, one can understand how a fetus would be the utmost Yin (fluid, soft tissue, or very center) of a woman’s body as the fetus does not obtain its own Yang energy until it takes its first breath outside of the womb.
To offer assistance with breech presentation, often only one acupuncture appointment is needed. Typically the mother is instructed to continue using a technique called moxabustionat home for 10-20 minutes a day until her next sonogram or physical examination. Moxabustion is a technique that involves burning of an herb called mugwort to gently stimulate an acupuncture point. Exceptions to this treatment are when there are structural hindrances in the mother’s body, low levels of amniotic fluid, dehydration or what we sometimes call blood deficiency in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Points and techniques are chosen to address the blocks first before attempting to needle or moxa the point that coerce the baby to turn into the proper head down position. When the mother is properly hydrated it increases the volume of amniotic fluid allowing the baby to turn with ease. When the mother is properly nourished, the blood supply in the uterus is ample allowing the baby to turn and calmly remain in the head down position instead of becoming what we refer to as “restless” and moving in and out of position. Helpful food choices that prime a pregnant woman’s body for optimal conditions for a fetus to turn can include coconut water, fruits high in water content, eggs, avocados, red meat, red raspberry leaf tea, and fatty fishes that are high in omega-3 like salmon and tuna.
Although babies can be successfully relocated to the proper position up to the moment before birth, it is optimal to seek out treatment around week 33-34 of your pregnancy if you know your baby is not in the correct position. This ensures that all significant blocks to turning are addressed and allows more time with the baby’s head against the cervix to help release proper hormones needed for a smooth birth.