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Toowoomba Acupuncturist Discusses Medical Facts Pertaining to Babies in Breech Position

My name is Louis Gordon and I am an acupuncturist. I practice acupuncture from ANTRAC Acupuncture Clinic in Middle Ridge, Toowoomba, 4350, Queensland, Australia. Just as fresh clean water bubbling up from a natural well is vital to sustain life … my WELLNESS information will help YOU to sustain a healthy vibrant life beaming with optimal wellness. Call for more information on (07) 4636 6100.

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Medical Facts Pertaining to Babies in Breech Position

The Wikipedia article titled “Breech birth” (1) states, “A breech birth occurs when a baby is born bottom first instead of head first. Around 3-5% of pregnant women at term (37–40 weeks pregnant) will have a breech baby. Most babies in the breech position are born by a caesarean section because it is seen as safer than being born vaginally. As most breech babies are delivered by caesarean section in developed countries, doctors and midwives may lose the skills required to safely assist women giving birth to a breech baby vaginally. Delivering all breech babies by caesarean section in developing countries may be very difficult to implement or even impossible as there are not always resources available to provide this service.” …. “In the third period, from the 36th gestational week onward, the incidence of cephalic and breech presentations remain stable, i.e. breech presentation around 3-4% and cephalic presentation approximately 95%.” …. “A breech presentation at delivery occurs when the fetus does not turn to a cephalic presentation. This failure to change presentation can result from endogenous and exogenous factors. Endogenous factors involve fetal inability to adequately move, whereas exogenous factors refer to insufficient intrauterine space available for fetal movements.” … “women with previous Caesarean deliveries have a risk of breech presentation at term twice that of women with previous vaginal deliveries.”

The Wikipedia article titled “Breech birth” (1) notes that there are 3 differing types of breech, which depend on how the baby’s legs are lying.

  • A frank breech (otherwise known as an extended breech) is where the baby’s legs are up next to its abdomen, with its knees straight and its feet next to its ears. This is the most common type of breech.
  • A complete breech (flexed) breech is when the baby appears as though it is sitting crossed-legged with its legs bent at the hips and knees.
  • A footling breech is when one or both of the baby’s feet are born first instead of the pelvis. This is more common in babies born prematurely or before their due date.

In addition to the above, breech births in which the sacrum is the fetal denominator can be classified by the position of a fetus. Thus sacro-anterior, sacro-transverse and sacro-posterior positions all exist, but left sacro-anterior is the most common presentation. Sacro-anterior indicates an easier delivery compared to other forms (1). Research suggests that spontaneous natural breech-position reversal may occur at week 34. Even when women present later, even as late as 38 or 39 weeks, so long as they are not too large, some babies in breech position may still turn to a correct cephalic presentation.

How Can Acupuncture Treatment Help Generally?

When a pregnant woman close to term knows that her baby is in breech position, it can cause a lot of stress, sleepless nights and often a lot of pain. As it is so far along in the pregnancy, often the women is fatigued and wants the whole thing to be over. 50% of babies have turned spontaneously by 36 weeks. Having several acupuncture treatments from week 34 onwards is the most appropriate, as the acupuncture treatment at this stage may reduce the stress, may reduce the pain and may ease the fatigue.

Acupuncture and herbs are both an integral part of Chinese medicine practice, which may help patients to manage a range of symptoms including pain, stress and fatigue during the birthing process. Chinese medicine is generally considered to be safe but occasionally (as with all health treatments) may be associated with possible adverse reactions in individual cases. These beneficial aspects of acupuncture may allow for Mother Nature to take its course.

It is essential to find a qualified and accredited acupuncturist that has personal experience with treating pregnant women. In Australia, the AACMA has a searchable list that will advise where the nearest acupuncturist is to you based on your post code. You generally require several treatments performed on a daily basis until you give birth.

When searching for a Chinese medicine practitioner that is adequately trained and licensed in acupuncture, be sure to check that they are registered to practice acupuncture on the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website. If they are not registered on the AHPRA website, please report them as they are fraudulent, and a danger to the public.  Question the practitioner to ensure he/she has a sound background in treating pregnant women. An MD who simply practices acupuncture once in a while often has just several hundred hours of experience, compared to several thousand hours of training and practice required for a traditional Chinese acupuncturist.

What to Wear for the Acupuncture Treatments

As I need to access acupoints on the legs to the knees and the arms to the elbows, it is important to wear clothes that allow me to readily access these areas, and that are loose fitting over the abdomen and in the sacral area.

During the First Treatment
After I have taken the Case History, the patient lies down, generally on her left side to prevent pressure of the baby on the inferior vena cava vein, which if compressed could cause mum to feel faint. I needle the points as determined by the Case History. For points that might be painful, I use a painless laser treatment to set about balancing all the meridian energies.

Then, I apply moxibustion treatment to the acupoints on the little toes. The lighted Moxa stick is held over Bladder 67 bilaterally until they feel uncomfortably hot. Then “hen-pecking” moxibustion is applied for twenty minutes bilaterally, for one minute on the left little toe and then for one minute on the right little toe. In this method, the ignited moxa stick is moved up and down over the point like a bird pecking. The hot glowing moxa “cherry” is held about a thumbs width away from the acupoints so it does not burn the skin.

Two Subsequent Treatments
It is very beneficial if the patient can take along their partner or a friend to be trained in the moxibustion procedure. I apply the moxibustion treatment as above for two more days. During the third treatment I ensure the patient is skilled with the acupoint location and the moxibustion procedure, and I answer any remaining questions.

Due Diligence & Warnings Regarding the Moxibustion Procedure
• The outer cover of the moxa stick should be removed before lighting the moxa.
• The moxa stick is held vertical, and the lighter is held underneath until the flat end lights.
• Once lighted, blow on the end of the moxa stick to make the end glow orange.
• Note any darker regions (ash accumulation) and wipe this region on the edge of the moxa extinguisher. Blow on the end again until the entire surface is glowing orange. This is called the “cherry”.
• The smoke from the burning moxa may set off smoke detectors.
• The smoke from the burning moxa permeates hair and clothes, and can irritate sensitive eyes, so perform in an open area or outside if possible.
• During treatment, hold the moxa stick like you would hold a pencil.
• Wipe the ash off about every minute and blow the “cherry” to make it glow.
• During treatment hold the glowing tip about a thumb width away from the acupoint being treated.
• For acupoints being tonified use the “hen-pecking” procedure – (See above). For Spleen 6 warm the acupoint gently so it is soothing, unlike the irritating “hen-pecking” procedure.
• When finished, the burning moxa stick must be extinguished in the moxa extinguisher, which sits on a dinner plate to catch ash and prevent scorching damage and starting fires.
• The moxa stick must be snuffed out in the extinguisher without damaging the “cherry”, so it is ready to light easily during the next treatment.
• Should the “cherry” break off in the extinguisher, cut the end off with a sharp knife and start again.
• Do not leave the moxa on any timber or combustible surfaces to prevent the possibility of scorching damage to surfaces or starting fires.
• When the moxa extinguisher is half filled with ash, use the handle of a teaspoon to scrape the ash out into a tissue and discard. Make sure the ash is cold so it does not ignite the tissue.
• Advise asthmatics to avoid inhalation of the moxa smoke.
• Greater care should be exercised if the woman is a diabetic to prevent burns on the sensitive skin.

How Acupuncture and Moxibustion May Help Patients to Manage a Range of Symptoms Including Pain, Stress and Fatigue Prior to the Birthing Process

Acupoint Bladder 67 is the end point of the Bladder channel and has many different dynamic properties according to TCM. Being the terminal point it is the “Exit Point” of the Bladder channel. It is also the “Jing-Well Point” on the Bladder channel, and also happens to be the “Metal Point” on the channel. As it is the “Metal Point” on the Water Element Meridian, according to the sophisticated TCM mathematical paradigm, Bladder 67 is thus the “Tonification Point” of the Bladder meridian, which just happens to be the Qi (energy) meridian with the largest number of acupoints in the entire body. Adding heat (Yang) to a Yang meridian may account for relief of stress and fatigue during the treatment.

As there is a cumulative effect of moxibustion, the baby may become more active with each subsequent treatment, until eventually the woman may feel a rather uncomfortable period of activity. This heightened activity may occur around days four to six, and again may occur around day ten or 11. Once the pregnant woman is less stressed and in less pain and has less fatigue, Mother Nature may come to the rescue and allow the malpositioned baby to assume the nature-intended position. Correct positioning of the baby should be confirmed by a qualified midwife or doctor. Midwives have noted that there appears to be a higher success rate in the manual external correction procedure in women that have used the moxa treatments for at least five days before the manual external procedure. (2)

REFERENCES:

(1) Wikimedia Foundation Inc., Breech birth (6 January 2018, at 20:24). Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breech_birth

(2) Betts, D. The essential guide to acupuncture in pregnancy & childbirth. The Journal of Chinese Medicine Ltd. 2006. 320 pp.

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