Osteopathy

By Gianna Buonocore

breechI wrote about how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help relieve morning sickness the last time. This time I would like to talk about turning breech babies and preparing for labour.

"Lisa" was a 36-year-old pregnant mum. She visited my clinic at 35 weeks. She was diagnosed as having a breech baby, which was confirmed by a scan.

By around 32 weeks, most babies assume a head down position, known as a cephalic presentation. If a baby is breech, it means he is poised to come out feet or buttocks first, which presents some hazards to the baby and makes a vaginal birth very difficult, and often requires a C-section.

Lisa also complained of the same problem two years ago with her first child. Fortunately after using moxibustion and acupuncture treatment, her baby turned around at 38 weeks and she was able to have a natural vaginal birth.

Moxabustion

Moxabustion is used for babies in breech and posterior positions. It involves burning a herbal stick directly over an acupuncture point on the little toe of both feet. This method stimulates fetal activity and with continued treatment encourages the baby to turn. The optimum time to use moxibustion is 34 weeks although it may be effective as late as 38 or 39 weeks.

Lisa was as desperate as the first time to have a natural childbirth. Her doctor had already booked her to have a caesarian section at 38 weeks. She looked tired. She told me she had caught a cold earlier in the week but she was feeling better now. She complained of nasal congestion and a cough, which troubled her mainly at night.

Acupuncture

I gave Lisa a few acupuncture treatments to relax her mind and reduce the frequency of Braxton Hick contractions (false labour pain) she was experiencing. I was confident that acupuncture would enable Lisa's baby plenty of space and freedom to turn easily.

Acupuncture is well known to treat aches and pain but it also helps to relax the body and mind. It does not hurt and is safe to use during pregnancy.

I prescribed Lisa some herbs for her blocked nose and cough so that she could sleep better and recover her energy quickly.

I reminded Lisa to use lighted moxa sticks every day for 15 minutes when her baby was most active, which she said was in the evenings after dinner.

After Lisa completed her 10 day moxa treatment the baby was still in a breech position, confirmed by scan. Her cough and blocked nose had improved considerable and her energy was back to normal. I advised her to repeat the moxa treatment for another 10 days.

When I saw Lisa again she was delighted to tell me that her baby was no longer breech. She insisted we start acupuncture treatment to prepare her for labour as before.

Acupuncture can be used successfully to help women prepare for labour. There are specific points to soften the cervix and strengthen the uterus. Studies show women who use prebirth acupuncture have a quicker and less painful labour with less medical intervention. Babies are born alert and ready to feed and mothers recover quickly after childbirth.

Lisa's baby was born naturally 3 days early and 5 days into the new year.