Can Acupuncture help turn a Breech Baby before birth?

At around 28 to 30 weeks gestation, most babies begin to turn around so their head faces downwards. However, when mothers-to-be learn their babies still have their legs and bottoms facing down (a breech baby) as their due date approaches, they might try a number of tactics to flip their unborn child around – including acupuncture.

According to Tommy’s, giving birth to a breech baby is not ideal, as it can lead to complications such as an emergency caesarean-section, more pain relief and a long labour. If the baby has not turned by 36 weeks, midwives typically suggest a number of things to do to turn him or her so that labour can be as straightforward as possible.

This includes an external cephalic version (ECV), which involves a healthcare professional applying pressure to the abdomen to attempt to turn the baby manually. However, not only can it be uncomfortable, but it also only has a 50 per cent success rate. 

An alternative to this is acupuncture, with a study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health revealing this ancient Chinese treatment, together with moxibustion, “is more effective than observation in revolving foetuses in breech presentation”.

The trial concluded it, therefore, is a “valid option for women willing to experience a natural birth”.

Real world examples

According to the study of 226 breech cases, 53.6 per cent of those who received this treatment managed to turn their babies around, compared with 36.7 per cent of those who were randomised to observation. As a result, only 52.3 per cent of those in the first group were assigned caesarean sections, compared with 66.7 per cent of the latter cases.

More and more expectant mothers have been trying acupuncture as a way to avoid a breech delivery, including Eva Amurri, daughter of actress Susan Sarandon and Italian director Franco Amurri.

The 34-year-old actress recently revealed on her Instagram Story that she was about to try acupuncture to encourage her third baby to flip around.

She updated fans to say: “We did some pressure points to get baby to move around a bit and then I relaxed for a while. He is definitely transverse right now so hoping he will move a bit tonight head down.”

The Undateable star is not the first celebrity to opt for acupuncture for this issue, as both Pretty Little Liars actress Shay Mitchell and former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson also revealed they tried the treatment as a natural alternative to turning their babies.

It is often used together with moxibustion, which involves burning a cone or stick of ground mugwort leaves called a moxa on or near acupuncture points. This heat is thought to stimulate these, increase circulation, and improve the flow of qi around the body. While it has other health benefits, such as to relieve menstrual cramps, asthma symptoms, and cancer-related nausea, it is best known for its role in helping to turn a breech baby.

As well as assisting with this, acupuncture can also help during pregnancy, as many expectant mothers turn to the ancient treatment to relieve them of challenging symptoms.

For instance, it has been shown to be effective for morning sickness and lower back pain, both of which are incredibly common during pregnancy.

To find out more about Acupuncture, including its effects, get in touch today.