Finding out that your baby is in a breech position can be a bit of a shock, especially if you had been planning on having a natural delivery.
The first thing to remember is not to panic. Prior to 28 weeks gestation up to 20% of babies are in the breech presentation, this drops to 15% by 32 weeks, with only 4% of babies still in the breech position by full term (I.e. at 37 weeks gestation).
Your Dr. may suggest an external cephalic version (ECV) if you are categorised as having a low risk pregnancy and a scan of your uterus shows that the placenta is in a suitable position for it to be attempted safely.
This involves manual manipulation of your abdomen, with the aid of an ultrasound to track the babies position as well as the foetal heartbeat. The aim is to help the baby to 'somersault' so that the head moves down towards the cervix. Medication may be administered to help the muscles of the uterus to relax as some women do find the treatment to be quite uncomfortable.
Acupuncture & Moxibustion Treatment
A good alternative to try before resorting to ECV would be acupuncture in combination with the use of an ancient herb called moxa.
Recent research has shown that acupuncture is not only safe, but an effective treatment for turning breech babies. Five randomised studies were carried out by the department of foetal medicine at Hautepierre hospital, France using acupuncture needling on UB67, a point located on the outer corner of the little toe of each foot. The researchers concluded that the results were statistically signficant and stated that 'acupuncture should be attempted in cases of breech presentation'. While there was no control group used for these studies, this is one instance where a placebo effect is unlikely to have had much impact as given the nature of a breech presentation, 'belief' alone is not going to cause the baby to turn.
The use of moxa may also be recommended to patients with breech presentation to embelish the effects of the in-clinic acupuncture session. A pack of moxa rolls is provided, along with home-instruction for how to use them.
Treatment shouldn't start too late in the third trimester as there needs to be enough space available for your baby to turn. Beginning acupuncture from 32 weeks gestation would be advisable, in order to achieve the best possible result.
If you would like more information on acupuncture for breech presentation, please click here.