Breech and posterior positions

Chinese Medicine, in particular Moxibustion, has been shown to be quite effective in helping breech or posterior babies reposition. Around weeks 34 to 36, it is expected that baby will settle into a head down position in the pelvis, with its chin tucked in and the back of the head and spine aligned toward the mother’s abdomen ready for action.  Unfortunately, not all babies seem aware that they need to follow this plan.  Malposition of the fetus involves the baby’s head presenting into the pelvis, but either having the back of the head facing the mother’s spine or the chin not being tucked in.  This can contribute to longer and less efficient labour, as well as increased back pain for the mother as the baby’s spine is pressed against her own.

Malpresentation is when the baby has a body part other than the head in the pelvic outlet.  This could be a breech presentation, with the baby’s bottom presenting and the head at the top of the uterus, or it could be a brow, face or shoulder presentation.

If the baby is presenting in breech position, Traditional Chinese Medicine can be utilised to encourage the baby to turn and remain in the best possible position for birth.  Moxibustion is employed for a course of 10 days, with the mother being being provided with all she needs at her clinic visit to carry this out at home.  The best results for turning a breech baby using moxibustion are achieved around week 34, and although results can still be attained later in the pregnancy, getting in sooner than later will always increase success rates.  It is actually safe to start working on ensuring best position for delivery from 30 weeks if the position of the baby’s feet gives rise for concern.

Research has shown that moxa therapy is significantly effective, with the percentage of pregnancies still in breech at delivery being 32%, as opposed to 52.9% for mothers using standard care.  The combination of moxibustion therapy and standard care is actually most effective, with only 12% still in breech presentation at delivery.